While the game was tense and the outcome, at times, felt to be in doubt, Duquesne ultimately responded yesterday to a must-win situation against St. Francis and took sole possession of first place in the NEC. This is one of those cases where I’m pleased that my prediction (a Duquesne loss) was incorrect – though part of my reasoning for that choice did rear its head, which was giving up a critical turnover. The Dukes came away victorious anyway, so lets have a look at how based on the five keys from the other day.
Key 1. Pull a Williams on Harbridge
This was essential, as Harbridge is the SFU offense. The defense did me one better. Williams (of Wagner) still gained something like 90 yards on the Dukes. Harbridge was somewhere in the 40s. The Dukes’ defense took one of the best running backs in FCS and made him look bad. Without that feather in their cap, SFU really couldn’t get anything going at all offensively. The defense was ready and heavily committed to stopping the run. They succeeded. This was the most important element of the game for the Dukes and they handled it masterfully.
Key 2. Ix-nay on the Urnovers-tay
Unfortunately, the Dukes were not so successful in this department. In the 2nd quarter, Buechel overthrew Carter on third down for a pick six. Later, though not technically a turnover, a strange punt play that looked like a fake but maybe wasn’t gave SFU the ball at the 18. Luckily, the Red Flash was held by the Duquesne defense and only managed a field goal from that. They were in position to tie the game up. Expect an article later this week – Tuesday, to be precise – examining some of the Dukes’ turnovers and the situations in which they occur.
Key 3. Keep Rahming Involved
This was a solid “check.” Rahming had two receptions for 26 yards and was out there on an end-around or two. He scored the lone passing touchdown for the Dukes. Some of the plays indicate a desire to take advantage of Rahming’s elusiveness, and so far I’d say that this is a plus. I’d like to see the use a bit more of Rawlins in that way too, perhaps in tandem with Devin. Could be fun, and the offense could use a spark.
Key 4. Only run when the pass has set it up
This was not the case for all of yesterday, though I’ll grant that the weather had something to do with it. During the first quarter, the Dukes were methodical, mixing up plays. Buechel was 8 for 8 on passes at one point. They were similarly varied during their last scoring drive in the 3rd quarter. In the middle, not so much. We continued to see some of the long passes for incompletions on first down, or runs up the middle for no gain. So a mixed bag here, but we’ll blame the weather. For now.
Key 5. Be Yourselves
The point of this was to be what you are and don’t try to overpromote your strengths or overcompensate for your weaknesses. I think that the Dukes mostly served this philosophy on Saturday. The defense especially. They didn’t try to overreach. They committed to something they’ve done well and they did it again in stopping the run. The offense had to adjust based on conditions, and that impacted their playcalling. Ethan Dorsey was also somewhat effective at running against SFU, and sometimes you need to ride the hot hand.
Duquesne will travel to face the Sacred Heart Pioneers tomorrow. SHU just won a meaningless game against Monmouth and is going to try to do anything to get back in the hunt. They’ll have Keshaudas Spence ready to run against the Dukes, so whatever they did to stop Harbridge will need to be repeated.