It’s that time of the week again! The Colonials present some dangers, but are beatable – check out yesterday’s preview article for more on that. Today, it’s time to see what the Dukes will try to do against their crosstown rival.
1. Capitalize on opportunities
Given the Colonials’ track record this year, the Dukes should get at least one turnover. They need to punish RMU for it. It isn’t enough to get the ball, they also must make something of it. Duquesne was very capable in this area against West Liberty University, but that was all the defense. I won’t turn my nose up at any points, but it’s time for the offense to score off of a turnover or take advantage of a short field.
2. Continue to win the field position battle
The RMU offense can move through the air or on the ground, but they aren’t terribly efficient at it. If the Colonials are continuously stuck deep in their own end, their chances of scoring go way, way down because they don’t move the ball that well. We’d like the Dukes to score on every single play, but that just isn’t going to happen. Punts will happen, and Fleck can pin them. Hopefully kickoffs are plentiful, and Crimmins can be of help in this department too. Both have shown that they’re more than capable, and certainly the coverage unit has held up their end of the bargain so far, too.
3. No more picks
Buechel has thrown four interceptions in the last two games. He needs to buck that trend now, especially since it is quite evident that the Dukes are a pass-first team this year. Defenses are already going to be looking to the air for the ball, which won’t make Buechel’s life easier, so some of the more inadvisable throws can’t continue. Success or failure here is also going to do a lot to dictate how the Dukes do in the battle of field position.
Oh, this also means that unblocked blitzes on the blindside that hit the QB as he throws have to stop, too. Thankfully, we didn’t see any of that against Wagner.
4. Get them off the field
The defense has to force third down situations against the Colonials and then follow through with it. Robert Morris is only converting at a 24% clip. The defense has to be able to halt drives. Sometimes the bend-but-don’t-break schtick has worked this year, but realistically, we’ve seen too many drives that have continued beyond where they should. Even middling teams will make you pay for that eventually.
5. Get a plan, stick to it.
Duquesne’s offense was very efficient against Wagner during the first quarter last week. Then the Dukes neglected that game plan for the better part of two quarters, finally returning to it late in the third. When the Dukes have a formula that works, they need to stick with it. The Colonials are a good starting place for this. While they don’t stand out in any one area, they also don’t do anything particularly poorly. Each phase of the game for the Dukes will be challenged in one way or another and the Dukes will need to be consistent.
I’m 4-1 in this department. There’s every reason in the world why the Dukes should beat the Colonials this year. The problem is, there was every reason in the world why they should have won last year, too, and they lost a close game. Still, this is a very different team, and if the offense is clicking they can put up points in bunches. While Wagner is not as good as advertised, they’re a better team than RMU. The way that Duquesne stopped Dominique Williams last week, the way the defense dominated the third quarter, the play of Zidian and Kuntz, all of that convinced me. RMU already doesn’t score a lot, and they won’t do that this week either.
Dukes will win, 24-13.