The Blue Devils' starting signal-caller struggled in last week's monumental 13-10 road upset against then-No. 16 Virginia Tech. Completing just seven of his 25 passes on the afternoon, Boone failed to connect with a Duke receiver for the entirety of the second half.
But when the Blue Devils walked off the field at Lane Stadium with a historic win in tow—defeating a ranked opponent on the road for the first time since 1971 and cementing a bowl trip in back-to-back years for the first time in program history—Boone improved to 6-0 in his career as a starting quarterback.
Despite his struggles throughout the contest, Boone continues to be the most important thing any quarterback can be—a winner.
"I think that's a great term to be labeled," said Kurt Roper, Duke's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "He just wins. It doesn't have to be pretty. He just finds a way to win. So I don't think there's anything better—that's why we all play the game."
With the victory, Boone became Duke's first quarterback to win the first six starts of his career since Worth Lutz ripped off six consecutive wins to begin the 1952 season.
After taking over for recently-departed quarterback Sean Renfree as a full-time starter for the first time in his career, Boone wasted no time setting off some offensive fireworks as Duke rolled to a 45-0 win in its season-opener against N.C. Central. But as the season wore on and Boone returned from a collarbone injury that had him sidelined for more than a month, Duke's defense has taken center stage, allowing a combined 39 points in the team's last three victories.
"The one thing you'll never take from him is he's got a lot of confidence, and even though it was a struggle Saturday he's got a lot of confidence in his ability to make plays," Roper said. "And I think that always permeates through a team."
Although Boone will be the first to tell you that Saturday's contest was a far cry from his best showing, he viewed his defense's ability to bail the offense out as a positive step for the program. Duke's 13 points were the lowest total the Blue Devils have scored in a win since they defeated East Carolina by the same 13-10 margin Sept. 10, 1994.
"Our team is evening out. It's not just a bunch of offensive skill players that are keeping us in ballgames," Boone said. "It's the fact that we have young talent on defense and experienced guys on the offensive and defensive line that can help get the job done and be physical—be our edge and our game-changers when it comes to playing these ACC opponents."
With four contests remaining in the season and his second consecutive bowl berth already under his belt, Boone and the Blue Devils look toward a number of other milestones they hope to reach this season. Among them are the team's first winning season since 1994, first trip ever to an ACC Championship game and first bowl victory since all the way back in 1961.
But as Boone proceeds with his usual one-week-at-a-time mentality, he will have a number of opportunities to stop and reflect on the growth of a quarterback who used to doze off in team meetings to one who can't stay out of the film room and is yet to lose as a starter. Boone said that if he could go back in time, he would give his freshman self some valuable advice.
"I would have told him to wake up and get the ball rolling earlier," Boone said. "That's kind of how today's world is—people give you advice, but at the end of the day it's the decision you make, and you have to live and learn. The ones who get to it earlier like the Peyton Mannings of the world who really buy into it at a young age, it shows."
Fresh off a week where the Blue Devils got two votes in the AP top 25, gaining national exposure is one of the goals that Boone said he has had since his first season in Durham.
"We've been knocking on doors for a long time, and nobody's answered them," Boone said. "And now we finally knocked on the right door, and somebody is finally giving us attention. Now is the time to actually go out there and prove what we really have and gain more respect that we do deserve."
With an open date this week, Boone and the Blue Devils will have two weeks to rest for a matchup against N.C. State. The last time Duke hosted an in-state ACC foe was what until last week was the team's last program-defining win—a 33-30 last-second victory against North Carolina to make the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time in 18 years.
That win was one that Boone said changed the trajectory of Duke's program and helped to shift the football culture on campus. If Boone can keep up his unblemished record as a starter, he can expect that culture to continue to change.
"It's why I came here," Boone said. "I wanted to change the culture and be around a bunch of guys who wanted to do the same thing that I wanted, which was to change the Duke culture and be a part of something special. It's a great feeling, and the opportunities that are still left on the table are endless."