Duquesne simply couldn’t execute against YSU, and they were made to pay to the tune of a 59-17 loss. The Duquesne defense did keep it interesting early, and if it wasn’t for their efforts the loss would have been even more lopsided. The offense simply offered no support early and the defense found itself backed against a short field multiple times.
On one of those occasions in the first half, they were able to hold. After a Ryan Ho fumble, they managed to stand their ground and hold YSU to a field goal. Later on, though, a shanked punt by Fleck gave YSU the ball in Duquesne territory, and they simply couldn’t stop their offense.
Buechel was very good yet again, throwing for 362 yards and getting two receivers over the century mark. He continues to make the case for rookie of the year even in a losing effort, though that was tarnished by a fumble in the middle of the fourth quarter, well after the game was out of hand. The Dukes got Marty Mitchell some work late, and the interception (and pick six) in the game was his and not Buechel’s.
The run game was a different story.
Ryan Ho only managed 26 yards on seven carries as the Dukes netted just 39 rushing yards as a team. There are two major issues with the run game. The first is the inability to overcome the first instance of contact. The second is the inability of the offensive line to effectively block for the backs. Too often, there is a defender on the ball carrier the instant after the handoff.
Buechel’s success was also in spite of a lack of help by his receivers early on in the game. Several dropped passes, including a couple of significant ones by Chris King, made it difficult for the offense to find any sort of momentum until Youngstown was already well ahead. King also had a fumble early in the second quarter.
The special teams didn’t help the Dukes either. Excellent punting by YSU repeatedly gave the Dukes difficult field position, and Austin Fleck had a difficult time punting them out of it. Aside from his long punt of 49 yards, the other 6 averaged 28.5 yards. This is a far cry from what he was able to do in the Albany game, though admittedly some of them were sent airborne from the Duquesne endzone.
The defense did give up a lot of yardage and points, but they had difficulty staying off the field. Time of possession for the Duquesne offense through three quarters was just over 16:30 to YSU’s 28:30. Twenty five percent of YSU’s drives started in Duquesne territory, and another two started very close to midfield. All of their first half points except for one touchdown came as a result of these short fields, so it’s hard to fault the defense.
The Dukes have a lot of work to do before they enter conference play, especially in terms of the offensive line’s blocking schemes. The running backs need a lot of work. After another set of turnovers, ball control will have to be pushed – again. The run defense was actually not horrible, considering that Youngstown State didn’t manage to get a back over 100 yards despite having done so three other times – and considering that they were more inclined to run late in the game with a comfortable lead. Still, they could get more pressure on the quarterback and I still see issues with making the initial tackle at a higher rate.
Luckily, Duquesne will have the chance to do all of that. This week is another off week, and then the Dukes will welcome West Liberty, a Division II team, before conference play begins with Wagner on October 12th.