#33 Duquesne FCS Football 2012 Preview

Duquesne Dukes

2012 Overall Rank: #33
#1 Northeast
Duquesne FCS College Football 2012-2013 Team Preview
Duquesne Team Page


Duquesne quietly finished the 2011 season with a 9-2 overall record and a 7-1 record in Northeast Conference play. A loss at Albany proved to be the tie-breaker as the Great Danes headed for the FCS Playoffs while the Dukes headed home. This year Coach Jerry Schmitt has some holes to fill, but he has amassed a pretty talented roster and should be right in the mix for an NEC championship and a trip to the playoffs. And this time Albany has to come to Pittsburgh.

2011 Record: (9-2, 7-1)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Jerry Schmitt (42-31 at Duquesne, 70-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gary Dunn
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Opfar

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Larry McCoy, RB, 1,381 yards
Passing: Sean Patterson, QB, 2,011 yards
Receiving: Noel Oduho, WR, 32 yards
Tackles: Horvin Latimer, LB, 60
Sacks: Derrick Lakins, LB, 2; Zach Richert, LB, 2
Interceptions: Serge Kona, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: FB Ethan Dorsey, DE Reggie Eiland, K/P Charlie Leventry, LB Chidozie Oparanozie, OT Jeremy Summers, G Eric Warning

Key Losses: S Khiry Carter, WR Connor Dixon, LB Christopher Oliver, DT Mike Passodelis, WR Brooks Roorback, WR Isaac Spragg, CB Jared Williams

There were not many defenses that were better than Duquesne last season. They led the nation in pass defense and were fourth in overall defense. The front line of coordinator Dave Opfar’s 3-4 defense will need to be rebuilt, but the back eight should again be the best in the conference. Free safety Serge Kona is, arguably, the best defensive player in the conference and has been for a couple years now. Kona, a former linebacker, is a big hitter who has forced seven fumbles during his collegiate career. While having Kona back is great, the rest of the secondary is gone. Rich Piekarski saw plenty of playing time last year and is ready to step into a starting safety spot. With sophomores Brandon Martin and Devin Williams joining junior college transfer Nick Floyd, there are options at cornerback. The linebackers return a slew of talent, including three starters. Horvin Latimer, Derrick Lakins, and Chidozie Oparanozie will remain in their starting positions. Add Dorian Bell, a transfer from Ohio State, to the starting lineup and Duquesne has a superb group of linebackers. Zach Richert and Tyler Zimmer will provide experienced and quality depth. On the other side of the ball, the Dukes will rely heavily on returning skill players Larry McCoy and Sean Patterson. McCoy, a 5-10 running back, should be in for a big year after rushing for 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. Having Ryan Ho back from injury will give Patterson more time to rest than he had last year. Patterson is no stranger to running the ball, but the senior quarterback can throw too. In 2011 he completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,011 yards and 23 touchdowns. But now the question becomes who does he throw to?

Isaac Spragg, Connor Dixon and Brooks Roorback accounted for a huge chunk of the team’s receiving yards. Spragg and Dixon alone accounted for 21 of Patterson’s 23 touchdown passes. Replacing that trio will not be easy. However, Duquesne has been in similar situations before, albeit not to this extreme, and turned out quite well. In 2010 Spragg caught two passes and that was better than Roorback. Thus, do not be surprised to see some major leaps in production from players like Noel Oduho, Sean Brady, Randall Coleman, Montana State transfer Gianni Carter or any other number of receivers further down the depth chart. The bigger concern on offense is on the line. Guard Eric Warning is an all-conference caliber player and tackle Jeremy Summers is back to man the right tackle spot, but the rest of the starters are gone. Nick Redden is capable of taking over at center after playing quite a few snaps last season, but the rest of the line, and its depth, will be largely inexperienced.

The Bottom Line:
Duquesne can still win the NEC even if the offensive line struggles. But they cannot win if the new defensive line has problems. This is a team that will rely heavily on the ground game and their stellar defense. They can run clock with McCoy and Patterson on offense, but they must continue to do well stopping the run. The sacks can even come from the linebackers, although pressure from the front three would not hurt. Reggie Eiland started three games at one of the end spots last year before suffering a season ending injury, so he has some experience. That is not the case with the rest of the line. Sophomore Toby Thuer, after playing in one game last year, is the likely starter at the all-important nose tackle spot and there are not many other options if Thuer struggles.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 212.82 (15th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 184.82 (74, 4)
Total Offense: 397.64 (31, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.36 (33, 2)
Rushing Defense: 142.36 (39, 2)
Pass Defense: 139.27 (1, 1)
Total Defense: 281.64 (4, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.27 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: .27 (41, 3)
Sacks: 1.73 (82, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.55 (37, 3)