Saturday's rout against Georgia Tech in Duke's ACC opener told another story.
Completing six of his first seven passes, Connette drove the Blue Devils down the field for their first touchdown with relative ease, but the signal-caller finished just 15-of-28 for 122 yards in a 38-14 loss.
"It's a pretty tough circumstance. You went around the room, talking about every position, and right now it's pretty tough at quarterback. Brandon has had it all thrown on his shoulders," head coach David Cutcliffe said. "I'm sure he feels somewhat the weight of the world but we'll make sure he's okay. I'm glad he's on our football team."
Duke's offense failed to get in sync against the Yellow Jackets. The Blue Devils morphed from a team that excelled in both the run and passing games against N.C. Central and Memphis to one that struggled to take shots down the field against Georgia Tech.
Connettte averaged just 8.1 yards per completion against Georgia Tech—more than two yards fewer than Boone averaged during his first two games of the year—and his three completions of more than 20 yards were aided by significant yardage after the catch.
With Duke's signal-caller unable to spread the field and beat the Yellow Jackets deep, Georgia Tech was able to stack the box in anticipation of the zone-read, holding the Blue Devils to just 3.9 yards per carry.
"The whole game we were able to run the ball, they just brought more [linebackers] into the box and really loaded up the box, started rolling safeties down to stop the run because that's where we were really killing them," Connette said. "Once they got to that, they minimized the amount of run plays we could run."
The Blue Devils' third-down woes did not help Connette's case, as Duke was doomed by a 3-of-14 performance on third down.
"The biggest thing that turned us from moving the ball on a more consistent basis was third-down production," Connette said. "And a lot of that was just me being inaccurate on third down and missing guys that were open."
As Connette prepares for his second start of the season against Pittsburgh, among the keys will be the quarterback's pocket presence. The redshirt junior was sacked just twice against Georgia Tech, but made a number of hurried throws that came as a result of holding onto the ball too long.
Connette's struggles against the Yellow Jackets put the Blue Devils' larger quarterback issues on display. With Boone out indefinitely with a broken collarbone, Thomas Sirk still rehabbing his injured Achilles and the team still nursing Parker Boehme's first year of eligibility, Connette will be Duke's quarterback for the near future.
The burden will fall on Connette as the Blue Devils move forward to face Pittsburgh, Troy and Navy in their next three games—all winnable contests, but virtual must-wins for the team to reach a second straight bowl game for the first time ever.If there is anything the Blue Devils' last two games proved, it is that the team will only go as far as its signal-caller.
"It's still going to be a little bit of a process," Connette said. "The more and more repetitions I'm able to get—even just in practice—making those repetitions more game-like will help me."