The Wagner Seahawks travel to Rooney Field on Saturday for a homecoming matchup at 1:00 PM. Despite the records and question marks that both teams have, this should be a very entertaining game – and a very important one in the NEC.
Wagner is just 2 – 4, but is 1 – 1 in the NEC after beating previously undefeated Sacred Heart University. Two of the earlier losses came to FBS foe Syracuse and the perennial FCS power Delaware, so it’s difficult to count those against them.
Much like Duquesne, they had struggles against a Division II opponent – but unlike Duquesne, that opponent won. The biggest question mark in Wagner’s season is how to fix the defense after Merrimack dropped 42 points on them. Four touchdowns were passing, one was rushing, and the other was a kickoff return to begin the game.
Also like Duquesne, Wagner has also had difficulty taking care of the ball and blocking well enough to keep their quarterback upright.
Wagner’s offense can put up points when needed. Even though it is the defense that has brought up the most questions this year, the Seahawks’ coach Walt Hameline chose to switch quarterbacks early in the game against Bryant. Matt Misley has been mediocre this year, but it wasn’t Matt Misley that gave up 42 points to a DII school. After a couple of picks from him early in that Bryant game, though, Wagner elected to insert redshirt freshman Chris Andrews. He also started the next game. There have been mixed results.
In his time against Bryant, Andrews threw 3 touchdowns and ran for another. Then, in his first start against Sacred Heart, he threw for a mere 70 yards. Andrews has three picks to this point, and he’s been sacked 9 times since taking over in the Bryant game. Wagner quarterbacks have been picked off 10 times.
Conversely, the Wagner defense has managed 6 sacks all year. They have one interception to their credit.
The Wagner pass defense is porous and Dillon Buechel is more than capable of having a big day against them – after all, so did Merrimack!
On the ground, the big threat is Dominique Williams, who averages over 100 yards per game. The Dukes must contain him, and they must make Andrews work for his passing yardage.
We’ll be foregoing our “five keys” this week; suffice it to say, our pieces earlier in the week, as well as the discussion on the podcast, make it quite clear what the Dukes need to do to win. Minimize mistakes, tackle well, and stay tight on the receivers.
The Dukes may have bigger games this year, but they’ll matter less unless they start out the NEC portion of their schedule on the right foot. A win is needed here.
I’m currently 3-1 in predictions.
This will be a close game with a high combined score. Wagner has a good running back, and DU has not done well against good running teams. Conversely, Wagner has suffered against the pass, and the Dukes have the demonstrated ability to air the ball out well. Expect at least one turnover to factor into the score for each team.
Duquesne 35, Wagner 33