by Dave Morus
First let me say how excited I am to have everything set on FanSided. I truly could not have imagined this three years ago and the support of all in the DU fan community is what made this possible. Thank you all so much.
In the coming days, we’re going to preview the teams that the Dukes are playing this year. We’ll look at a little background information for all of the other teams, talk about key departures and who we might want to watch on the opposing sidelines. We’ll also be looking at areas in which the Dukes will need to execute in order to win. Last season’s numbers will play a big role, as will speculation.
Of course the Dukes have a lot of question marks themselves this year, with a new QB and the departure of talented running back Larry McCoy. Senior wideout and preseason All-NEC pick Gianni Carter should make some noise this year after being ranked second in the NEC in receiving yards and third in catches per game last season, this according to the Dukes 2013 football prospectus. The same document notes that Ryan Ho is expected to pick up the halfback mantle. He was productive in a limited role last year; how he responds to the feature back job is anyone’s guess.
Another interesting storyline is the addition of local talent Chavas Rawlins, an all-state quarterback in the PIAA and a member of the Post-Gazette’s yearly Fabulous 22 team. How will his presence impact the position of QBs Marty Mitchell and Dillon Buechel on the roster? Then there’s the JMU transfer, Michael LoPresti, added to the mix. No question – the QB situation will be interesting! Regardless of who the starter is, it is possible that Rawlins could make an appearance in certain packages, or at wideout. The interesting thing with him is that he could be a danger in any offensive position and, if utilized like that, he’ll be fun to watch moving forward. Early rumors seem to be giving Buechel the edge at QB, but stay tuned – rumors are just that.
Still, the defense looks to be formidable, with Dorian Bell leading the way. Bell was recently named to the watchlist for the Buck Buchanan award, recognizing the top defensive player in the FCS. Chris Johnson, transfer from FBS Florida, should be a scary presence in the secondary.
The first half of the schedule is without a doubt brutal. The Dukes will face the two NEC co-champs and Youngstown State. Division II West Liberty will offer a welcome respite in week four, though that could be the proverbial “trap game” before playing division rival Wagner.
That represents the most important game of the season – Wagner. In the preseason NEC poll, the Hawks received 4 first place votes to the Dukes 3. This is a pivotal matchup that could decide the conference champion. Should the Dukes lose to Wagner, it is quite likely that they will need to run the table to be in the hunt. Moreso, even a victory could require the Dukes to win out in what should prove to be a close race.
The remaining teams are not pushovers but will be less challenging. Monmouth, in the season finale, will be the most difficult opponent on the second-half schedule, though they are no longer a conference opponent.
Anyway, there’s certainly a lot to learn about the Dukes this year! Watch this space as we preview the upcoming opponents and see how the Dukes season may unfold.