The Dukes are off this week and will be preparing for their matchup with Youngstown State University on September 21st. Now that we have two games to use as a reference, it’s time to look at some areas that the Jerry Schmitt and staff will want the team to focus on in practice during the bye.
- Tackling. As effective as the Duquesne defense has been at times, they need to convert at a higher clip on the first instance of contact between player and ball carrier. This was a big problem against Albany and did seem to improve over Dayton, as they limited a potent run game to mere field goals in the second half. One game isn’t a permanent fix, however, and this should be a focus, especially when dealing with…
- Run defense. Albany is comfortable throwing if they have to, but Dayton is a running team and refused to give that up. The 190 yards that they gained on the ground came pretty much exactly they way that they want them to – balanced gains by their backs, and a quarterback who is as willing to run as pass.
- Running Backs. I don’t want to overlook the fact that both Albany and Dayton have a very solid front seven and a good track record against the run, but this needs to be better, especially with a redshirt freshman under center. Establishing the run will help everyone – Buechel will have more time to throw and playaction will become a possibility. Of course, Since Buechel has played so well, the two threads of the offense can help one another by looking more at…
- Short Passes. Early on in the Albany game, this was happening. The backs had space because the front seven of the Danes had to open up and respect the quick hits that Buechel put out in the first half. This went away in the Dayton game. The Dukes never trailed by a significant amount, but almost played like they were behind. I’d like to see more looks to Dave Thomas, who showed his potential by turning a short pass into a long game during week one. Once Dayton nullified Carter, the passing game sputtered.
- Chavas Rawlins. Loved the way he was used against Albany and would like to see more. He’s a gifted athlete who can make plays if the staff gives him the opportunity. This may already be happening behind the scenes – he did make his switch relatively late in the summer.
- Safety Depth. There have been a few plays that went longer than they needed to as the result of some questionable positioning by the secondary, especially the safeties. The Chillis reception at the end of the first half of Albany comes to mind. Coverage was a bit soft and that can improve.
- Turnovers. First, take care of the ball. It’s also true that TOs are going to happen, and the Dukes should reexamine how to respond when they happen. I’m thinking specifically of the miscue between Fleck and the long snapper. Dayton scored two touchdowns and both were the result of Duquesne turnovers. Turnover margin is a huge stat and often is an indicator of who won and lost the game. Certainly it isn’t news that one can predict the result of the game by glancing at turnover ratio.