The Dukes executed their gameplan to perfection against the Great Danes of Albany, and will obviously be looking to do the same against Dayton. What will Jerry Schmitt’s plan be? Well, I have a few guesses as to how the Dukes will attempt to impose their will against the Flyers.
1. Force Bardo To Throw
Will Bardo is effective if and only if the run is available to him. When it is not, he can and has made mistakes. The Dukes will need to bring the same effort that limited the Albany run game to under 70 yards last week. If they can do this, it is quite likely that they will also garner some interceptions and force a lot of 3-and-outs.
2. Take Advantage of a Young O-Line
There is not a lot of experience on the Dayton line, as I noted the other day in the preview of the offense. This is an advantage for the Dukes as they look to accomplish the first goal above. The danger will be to watch for Bardo to break out and run if and when the line falls apart – he is skilled on his feet. I look for Dorian Bell to lead the pressure in the backfield for the Dukes. If the defense can react quickly to some shifty backs, sacks and tackles-for-loss are not out of the question.
3. Keep The Secondary Guessing
They can’t intercept you if they don’t know where you’re going to throw, and Duquesne took care of that last week by getting eight different receivers the ball. The Dukes will need to provide the same variety, as I guarantee that Dayton won’t leave Gianni Carter as open as Albany did. I’ll be interested to see if the chemistry between Buechel and Dave Thomas continues this week. That really could be something special.
4. Mix Up The Offense
Once again, the Dukes will need to open up the playbook. Their effectiveness last week came from spreading the ball around. They mixed short and long yardage passes, adding running plays – and even giving a little Wildcat look with Chavas Rawlins – all big factors in their success against Albany. This will need to happen again, especially with a Dayton run defense that will limit opponents’ running backs. To avoid this, the Dukes will need give their players space once more. Some short passes that operate like a running game could really get Ryan Ho and crew some space.
5. Continue the Excellent Special Teams Play
The Dayton offense has the potential to struggle. Couple that with the poor field position that the Dukes forced Albany to start with, and the field position battle could go strongly in favor of the Dukes. The more short fields that Duquesne can find themselves looking at, the better off they’ll be. This starts with the kickers and the coverage team. If they can be that good again, the Dukes will be in a favorable position indeed.
I still hate these. I was five-for-five in what the Dukes game planned against Albany. I was also right with the win last week, but it wasn’t nearly as close as I guessed. This week, I’ll say again that this will be a close game. The defense that the Flyers put forward could be an issue, and I predict more than a couple of field goals for the Dukes as they won’t always be able to convert touchdowns from those short fields. If Duquesne can make their tackles a little cleaner this week, they will win.
Duquesne wins, 23-17.