Not all interceptions are created equal. In Anthony Boone’s case, they usually result from trying to do too much.
“Anthony’s, most of the time, he’ll take a risk every now and then, he’s got it calculated, but other times sometimes it’s just an overthrow with speed, velocity and height on the ball,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We’ve worked hard at trying to correct that.”
In terms of game time and downs, Boone was consistent with his interceptions last season, if there is such a thing. Of the 13 interceptions Boone threw, four came in the second quarter (30.8 percent). He threw three apiece in the first, second and third quarters. He threw five interceptions on second down (38.5 percent), five on third down and three on first down.
Six interceptions came when Duke was ahead (46.2 percent), four when the Blue Devils were behind, and three when the score was tied.
The biggest indicator of success came when considering the distance from a first down. Eight of Boone’s interceptions (61.5 percent) came when Duke was 10 or more yards away from a first down – a natural time to try to do too much.
“It was just immaturity, trying to force in big plays, usually that’s what it came down to,” Boone said. “Just trying to do too much and not what the defense was giving us, and trust the other guys, like our checkdowns or trusting our running backs to get the first down or extend plays.”
Three of Boone’s interceptions were caught behind the line of scrimmage, a sign that he was under pressure from defenders. One of Boone’s main areas of work during the offseason with new offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery was on his agility, which should buy him more time and space to make decisions under pressure.
Montgomery wants Boone to be more explosive, making his first steps count as he bursts out of the pocket. Improved agility and a better first-step should allow Boone to pick of chunks of yards when opportunities to scramble are present, and also help his decision-making when he drops back to pass.
Boone’s over-aggressive tendencies provide more potential big-plays than if he were timid and held onto the ball too long. But as a senior returning starter, Cutcliffe expects Boone’s touchdown to interception ratio to be better than last season’s 1-to-1 rate.
“He is better,” Cutcliffe said. “He is still not as good as I want him to be.”