Sat, Oct 19 @ Robert Morris
6:00 PM ET
Ah, the Division I-AA version of the Backyard Brawl – and, really, the only such game in the area given the perils of conference realignment. Duquesne faces the Colonials of Robert Morris in an evening game at Joe Walton. This was a close game last year, and one the Dukes seemed to be winning, until long pass in the 4th quarter from Colonials QB Jeff Sinclair to Duane Mitchell sealed their fate.
That wasn’t it, though, as Duquesne nearly came back. A solid drive saw them marching 72 yards down the field, but they fell just short of a touchdown in four-down territory. RMU ran out the clock, and the Dukes lost, 17-13, the second of four that they dropped to close out the season.
Jeff Sinclair, QB: The Colonials didn’t particularly excel at the passing or running game last year, but for strengths, give the edge to the passing and mark the reason as Sinclair. He was their most productive offensive player, throwing for 15 touchdowns and running for three more – which is more than any RMU running back had.
Nolan Nearhoof, DL: Bobby Mo also lost a key defensive playmaker. Nearhoof had 10.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries last year. He was a force to be reckoned with and definitely leaves a hole in the defense.
Players to Watch:
The Wide Receiver Corps: Duane Mitchell and Donte Jeter combined for 1100 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, quite a lot considering the team only passed for 1800 yards during the entire season. These are both talented players who are capable of breaking tackles downfield.
Keys for the Dukes:
RMU is simply OK at many facets of the game. They can be run on, they can be thrown on. The defense is fine, but unspectacular. The Dukes will simply have to be better and remember that this is a game that they nearly won last year. Conversely, the Colonials are decent, if unspectacular, at running and at passing (though a new starting QB could change those fortunes), so the Dukes will need to be solid on all facets defensively.
Sat, Oct 26 @ Bryant
1:00 PM ET
The third of Duquesne’s six conference games comes against the Bulldogs of Bryant University. This will be a test for the Dukes’ defense, especially the secondary. Bryant, picked to finish third in the NEC, is a very good passing team. The scary part about Bryant is all of the talent that they have returning, including one of the best receivers in FCS – Jordan Harris – and an experienced quarterback – Mike Westerhaus. This will not be an easy game and will require a strong effort from the Duquesne defense.
Jordan Brown, RB: Brown was an effective running back last year, especially in NEC play, where he averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Ricardo McCray will step into the role this year. He was effective with 272 yards on 38 attempts, but a few long runs skew that stat.
Players to Watch:
Jordan Harris, WR: Harris was last year’s NEC Offensive Player of the Year, as well as a first team preseason All-American pick. He’s an explosive receiver who caught 15 touchdowns last year. If he makes plays at the same clip as he did last year, he’ll be the all-time NEC leader in receiving yards by game 6 or 7.
Jeff Covitz, DL: Covitz is a 2nd team preseason All-American pick. He is a scary lineman and finished 2nd in the league in sacks last year.
Keys for the Dukes:
Bryant’s passing offense is good. Very good. Dangerously good. To win, the Dukes will have to be ready for it. Jordan Harris is a candidate for a double-team. The secondary will have to be solid and limit the efficiency of the Bulldogs. The front seven must not allow Westerhaus to feel comfortable in the pocket. If the expected starter Ricardo McCray is able to pick up the slack at running back, look for Bryant to run playaction and other similar looks to keep the pressure off.