It’s here it’s here college football is back in Fort Worth.
The Horned Frogs will open their season on a four game homestand, welcoming the Duquesne Dukes out of Pittsburgh, PN for a Saturday night tilt at the Carter.
Duquesne is a private, Catholic, research-heavy university that boasts just over 6,000 undergrads but sponsors 16 sports — including bowling. No, seriously. They have a women’s bowling team. The Dukes compete in both the A10 and NEC for athletics, playing for an NEC Championship in football last spring. The Dukes have been coached by Jerry Schmitt since 2005 and have had just three losing seasons in his tenure. They were 4-1 in the abbreviated spring season.
Quarterback Joe Mischler is really good. The sophomore is a preseason All Conference pick after throwing for nearly 1200 yards and nine touchdowns in last year’s five game tilt. He’s got great weapons in wide receiver Cyrus Holder (491 yards and five touchdowns) and tight end Bill O’Malley, and has two All Conference linemen protecting him in Jake Dixon and Vincent Lumia.
Four different players averaged over four yards per carry last spring and all are back for the fall, led by 6’3”, 230 pound Garrett Owens, an absolute bruiser who went for 430 yards and five scores last season. Sophomore Ky’ren Cunningham average 6.0 yards per carry in limited action, but at 6’ and 240 pounds, he’s not a guy defenses want to see much.
After averaging nearly 26 points per game in the spring, the Dukes should be more explosive this fall. That being said, TCU’s defense won’t be the team they discover that against, I would imagine.
Find yourself frustrated by TCU’s inability to get to the quarterback? Try being a Dukes fan. After just five sacks in five games last spring, don’t expect a ton of pressure on Max Duggan Saturday night. But this is a unit that can contain, allowing less than 18 points per game last season.
Led by defensive back Leandro DeBrito, a 6’2” senior who was named to the preseason All Conference team, the Dukes have a solid secondary and play fundamentally sound ball. They are a well-coached, veteran unit that has some star power, and has excelled at forcing turnovers and keeping the passing game in check. Max Duggan will get a solid early-season test working against an experienced secondary that was really good in the abbreviated spring campaign.
Kicker Brian Bruzdewicz is the best in the NEC, hitting on 4-6 attempts in the spring as a freshman. He did send three kickoffs out of bounds though, and free yardage is a recipe for disaster in these buy games. The Dukes aren’t big on explosive plays in the return game, and could be vulnerable to allowing some to the Frogs. JD Spielman and Derius Davis should both have some opportunities for big plays and big yardage when they get their hands on punt and kick returns.
The Dukes are a really solid FCS program that has championship aspirations annually. 2021 is the 11th-straight year in which Duquesne was selected first or second in the conference preseason coaches poll. Led by Jerry Schmitt, who is entering his 17th season at the helm, the Dukes have recorded 69 overall wins, 43 conference victories as well as five league titles over the last ten seasons, all figures which lead the NEC.
Expect an entertaining game early that the Frogs take control of by midway through the second quarter, allowing us a chance to get a good look at Chandler Morris — and maybe Sam Jackson — in the second half.