Sat, Sept 7 @ Dayton
1:00 PM ET
The Dukes second game of the season takes place against the Dayton Flyers of the Pioneer league. Dayton finished in the middle of the league with an overall record of 6-5. The Dukes won last year 17-7, scoring two touchdowns late in the game after trailing most of the time 7-3.
The Flyers have lost five of their last six games against the Dukes.
If the Flyers of 2012 could be described in one world it would be “balanced.” Four different players had 400 or more rushing yards, including the quarterback. Three of those players relatively equally combined for 17 touchdowns. While the Flyers ironically relied on their ground game to score points, their receiving game was also quite balanced. Five players had 200 or more receiving yards, with individual totals ranging from 208 to 270
Dan Jacob, RB: The clear leader of the Flyers hydra-like rushing attack, Jacob led the team in attempts and contributed 648 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Players to Watch:
Will Bardo, QB: Not an efficient passer, but an effective quarterback who can move in the pocket and make things happen.
Rob Washington, RB: The clear number two back in the offense last year, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and scoring 6 touchdowns. He will take on a larger role this year.
Pat Dowd, DE: Patrick Dowd had four times more sacks than any other Flyer last year.
Keys for the Dukes:
Stay tight on the Flyer ground game on defense and take care of the ball on offense. The Flyers play a physical run game and the Dukes will need to focus on that. Quarterback Will Bardo is very mobile in the pocket, himself running for 511 yards and three touchdowns. If the Dukes can contain him and force him to make bad passes, they will come away with interceptions. He is prone to them.
The Flyers have a lot of experienced players returning and they could take a step forward this season. That said, they have weaknesses, and the Dukes can force them to be one-dimensional and keep them off the board.
Sat, Sept 21 @Youngstown St.
4:00 PM ET
A superb example of the differences between the haves and have-nots in FCS, the Dukes play at Rooney field, and YSU plays at the 20,000-seat Stambaugh Stadium. This is almost like a buy game for the Dukes much in the way that the Penguins play a buy game against FBS teams. For the Dukes, this is really not too different from the ODU game last year or the Delaware game a few years before – though perhaps easier to drive to.
YSU was a 7-4 team last year and shattered the “new coach” enthusiasm in these parts by spoiling Pitt’s home opener 31-17. Not to give up any ground, but this will be a great “experience” sort of game for the Dukes.
Jamaine Cook, RB: Far and away the leader of the offense last year, with 1279 rushing yards, 19 receptions, and 15 touchdowns. Torrian Pace will likely grab the baton and run with it. He averaged 5.4 yards per attempt last year as the primary backup.
Most of the Defensive Line: Aronde Stanton, Nick DeKraker, and Josh Fenderson combined for 83 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 17 tackles for loss last year. All have graduated.
Players to Watch:
Chris Elkins, OL: Elkins is a preseason All-MVC pick and was designated a preseason All-American by two different services. Offensive linemen don’t always get the praise that they deserve, and the adage goes that the better they are the less you hear their name. Elkins will be a significant obstacle for any Dukes looking to make a tackle for loss.
The New Defensive Line: They’ll have to be able to communicate and be in position. It’ll be interesting to see how they adjust. This could be a weakness early in the season as they learn to work together.
Keys for the Dukes:
If the YSU D-Line looks to have issues, the Dukes must take advantage of this. This will undoubtedly be a tough game for the Dukes, but success is possible. Continuing a theme from the first two games, the Penguins love to run the ball. 2/3ds of their touchdowns last year came from the backs. If the Dukes can effectively control Albany and Dayton’s ground game, then they do have a shot here. If they struggled in previous weeks, this will be a difficult game to watch.