As we noted yesterday, the Bulldogs have shown multiple personalities to this point and have some personnel questions at running back. Regardless of which Bryant team shows up, there are some big things that the Dukes can do to maximize their chances. Let’s take a look.
1. Don’t give Jordan Harris an inch.
Jordan Harris is an excellent wideout, and while his quarterback hasn’t been excellent, he has been very good at getting Harris the ball nonetheless. Jordan is effective even when Bryant is otherwise neutralized. Don’t be surprised to see some double teams of Harris this Saturday at 1.
2. Backfield Contact
Bryant has allowed 62 tackles for a loss this year, 22 of them sacks. The majority of the sacks that the Bulldogs have given up has come in their losses, including 11 total in their last two games. Combine that with a running game that is suddenly stalling and the Dukes could prevent the Bulldogs from moving anywhere. They’ll need the same kind of play from Zidian, Bell, Kuntz, and the rest that we’ve seen this year to make it happen. Get sacks, and Bryant is in trouble.
3. Accurate throws, no drops
With the exception of the illustrious Keshaudas Spence, teams have been doing most of their damage against Bryant through the passing game. Dillon Buechel will need to be accurate, and the receivers have to give him a bit more help than they have been. The damage is going to come this way, and that means that the Dukes have be a bit more productive in the passing game. There’s nothing wrong with runs here and there, but the eye test says that the Dukes have been far more successful when they start a set of downs throwing rather than running.
4. Field Position!
This seems obvious, but it’s an important factor against this Bryant Bulldogs team. In their most successful outings this year, the Bulldogs have started at their own 40 or better many, many times. In their less successful games, not so much. Again this seems obvious, but it also demonstrates how dangerous Bryant’s offense can be when they’re put in the position to score. The Dukes defense has sometimes shown a bend-but-don’t-break style, and that may not be good enough if Bryant is allowed to win the field position category.
5. Keep Buechel Upright
Here’s the inverse to #2 above – in Bryant’s three wins, they have 15 sacks. In their four losses, they have 5. The offensive line needs to do the equipment managers a favor and keep Buechel’s jersey clean.
Current prediction record – 5-1.
If you’d asked me three or four weeks ago, I would have been very concerned about Bryant. This would be a shootout, in my mind, and the Bulldogs’ running game would have a definite edge. Now, the DU run defense has solidified. The Bryant run game has diminished. Jordan Harris is the X factor for any Bryant success, but even then, Westerhaus has to get him the ball before he can do anything.
Duquesne 33, Bryant 17