West Liberty University, known as the Hilltoppers, have managed to score exactly one offensive touchdown this year.
I’m not sure we need to say much else. But seeing as the 2-2 Hilltoppers work as hard as anyone, they also deserve the full write-up.
The starting quarterback averages 132 yards per game and has thrown four interceptions. The run game collectively manages to get about 105. This isn’t just a Division II team, this is one that is struggling offensively. Case in point – their punter has been required to use his leg 31 times this year. Compare that to Aaron Fleck, who has punted 19 times. West Liberty’s Yocum is in all honestly a pretty decent punter, though it is fair to say that he has had plenty of practice.
Defensively, the Hilltoppers are a bit better. They’ve already garnered eight sacks, 31 total tackles for a loss, and six interceptions. One of their two touchdowns this year came as the result of a fumble recovery. The big threat? Senior starting cornerback Rod White, who has already matched his full season output from a year ago with three of those interceptions. While West Liberty struggles on the offensive side of the ball, the defense has absolutely been opportunistic. This is troubling for a Duquesne offense that has had issues across the line as well as a few too many turnovers.
As far as their defensive strength on the run versus the pass, it’s difficult to quantify. West Liberty has not played teams that are in any way comparable to Duquesne this season. The tackles for loss (96 in 2012) as well as the interceptions (21) and fumbles recoveries (13) tell us that this is an aggressive unit in both phases.
Now, all of that said, this will be a great opportunity for the Dukes to tune up before getting to NEC competition. Wagner taught us against Merrimack that we shouldn’t take games for granted, but there is every reason in the world why the Dukes should win this going away.
Next up – the five keys for the Dukes! Stay tuned as football returns to the Bluff!