#34 Duquesne FCS Football 2019 Preview

Duquesne Dukes
Overall Rank: #34
#1 NEC
 Duquesne Logo
Duquesne returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. And once there, the Dukes managed to knock off Towson to earn their first ever playoff win. That will be the main goal again in 2019, but it may not be as easy as it looks to win the expanded NEC and earn an automatic spot in the playoffs.
2018 Record: 9-4, 5-1
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jerry Schmitt (92-62 at Duquesne, 120-83 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Anthony Doria
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Opfar
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: A.J. Hines, RB, 1,520 yards
Passing: Daniel Parr, QB, 2,447 yards
Receiving: Kellon Taylor, WR, 576 yards
Tackles: Brett Zanotto, LB, 89
Sacks: Mike O’Malley, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: 4 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: WR Kareem Coles, LB Spencer Demedal, DB Leandro Bebrito, DL Kam Carter, P/K Mitch MacZura
Key Losses: RB Daquan Worley, WR Nehari Crawford, OL Alex Conley, DL Jalen Booker, DB Jonathant Istache, DB Brandon Stanback
Coach Jerry Schmitt has a few holes to fill on offense, but that may not be that big of a deal since A.J. Hines is not one of them. Hines rushed for 1,520 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and the Dukes offense can rely heavily on their talented workhorse. Also back is quarterback Daniel Parr, who threw for 2,447 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2018. Parr also ran for seven scores. Losing Nehari Crawford could be a big problem though. He caught 71 passes for 1,048 yards and ten touchdowns. Kellon Taylor is a big wide-out and Kareem Coles is a solid possession receiver, but Duquesne will need to find another target or two.
The defense was pretty good last year, allowing 27.9 points per game. That is not a great number, but games against Umass, Hawaii and South Dakota State really skewed the numbers. This is a group that went to Towson in the playoffs and held them to ten points. Linebackers Brett Zanotto and Spencer Demedal were the team’s top two tacklers and will again be great leaders in the middle of the defense. Mike O’Malley is a good pass rushing linebacker and the line should be in good shape with Kam Carter creating space for O’Malley and the defensive ends to get to the quarterback. The secondary has some holes to fill, but Leandro DeBrito and Reid Harrison-Ducros are solid players to build around and Duquesne does have the depth to fill in those holes.
The Bottom Line:
Duquesne does not play any FBS teams this year, but they will still be seriously tested on the road when they head to Youngstown State, Dayton and New Hampshire. Those games will prepare them for a potential playoff contest instead of just going to an FBS school and collecting a paycheck. The biggest game of the NEC could be the first one. Duquesne hosts new FCS team LIU. LIU-Post reached the Division II playoffs last year and merged with LIU Brooklyn from an athletics standpoint to move to the FCS. They boast a very good team and could be Duquesne toughest opponent in the NEC.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 178.5 (49th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 194.2 (81, 6)
Total Offense: 372.6 (68, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.2 (49, 3)
Rushing Defense: 181.7 (65, 3)
Pass Defense: 198.9 (36, 3)
Total Defense: 380.6 (56, 4)
Scoring Defense: 27.9 (56, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.46 (94, 6)
Sacks: 1.46 (91, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.31 (85, 7)