Duquesne Football Opens Season Saturday at Buffalo
Aug. 26, 2014
DUQUESNE (0-0) at BUFFALO (0-0) DUKES OPEN 2014 AGAINST FIRST FBS FOE:
DUQUESNE (0-0) at BUFFALO (0-0)
DUKES OPEN 2014 AGAINST FIRST FBS FOE:
EARLY START: The August 30 game at Buffalo ties the earliest opener in school history (2001 vs. VMI & 2003 at Bucknell are the others).
FBS INFLUENCE: Three players with FBS game experience are on the opening day 2-deep: back-up WR Wayne Capers (Arizona), starting S Chris Johnson (Florida) and projected starting OLB Armstead Williams (Purdue) have all played in a BCS game. Back-up CB Ken Egu ran track and was on the football team at Washington, but did not see action. FB Randy Morris was a two-year walk-on at Pitt, but did not play.
CAPTAINS: Captains for the 2014 season are: junior OL Dan Buchholz (Malvern Pa./Great Valley), sophomore QB Dillon Buechel (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour), junior DL Zach Zidian (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman) and senior DB Rich Piekarski (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson).
ON BUFFALO: Buffalo returns 16 starters from last year's 8-5 team which made an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl ... the Bulls finished second in the Mid-American Conference East with a school record six MAC wins (6-2) ... in a preseason poll, Buffalo was picked to finish 4th of 7 teams in the MAC East Division in 2014.
SEVEN AT HOME: The Dukes will play seven times at home and five times on the road. The seven home games are the most since 2001 when DU scheduled six home games and later added the ECAC Classic. It is the first time Duquesne has seven or more scheduled home games since 1934 (eight).
BALANCED ATTACK: The Dukes enter the season with 17 seniors (including graduate students), 23 juniors, 19 sophomores, which includes 14 redshirt sophomores, 11 redshirt freshmen and 27 true freshmen. The 27 newcomers is Duquesne's largest class of newbies in the school's six-year involvement in the Northeast Conference.
IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY: Duquesne is 22-17 in non-conference games under tenth-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (three times), Bucknell (twice) and Fordham (twice). At home, the Dukes are 14-2 in non-league play, while on the road Schmitt's Dukes have fashioned a 8-15 mark. DU snapped a seven-game skid in non-conference road games with a 22-13 win at Dayton on Sept. 3, 2011. The win snapped Dayton's FCS-best win streak at 10. DU went 3-2 in non-conference games last season.
NEW FACES ON THE SIDELINE: Head coach Jerry Schmitt added five new staff members for 2014 in defensive assistant Bret Colbert, co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Jason Makrinos, defensive line coach Tony Papley, linebackers coach Tyler Scudder and tight ends coach Chris Siegle. Colbert comes to Duquesne from Saint Vincent College where he held the titles of wide receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and video coordinator prior to being elevated to offensive coordinator in 2011. He began at Saint Vincent in 2007. Makrinos spent the past four seasons at Slippery Rock University where he coached defensive backs and also served as recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator. He was part of a staff that helped SRU to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West championships in 2011 and 2013. Papley, who completed his playing career at Slippery Rock in 2013, is in his first season as graduate assistant defensive line coach. Scudder is the former director of player personnel at Western Michigan. Prior to accepting the position at Western Michigan, Scudder spent three seasons at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. While at IUP, he served as cornerbacks coach as well as the assistant recruiting coordinator. A three-year letterman at nose tackle for SRU, Papley earned first team All-PSAC West honors as a senior in helping the Rock defense rank fourth nationally in pass defense efficiency, fifth in third-down conversion and 25th in rushing defense. Siegle, a former quarterback for the Dukes in 2001, was most recently the head coach at his alma mater, suburban Pittsburgh's Shaler High School, Siegle has coached at West Virginia Tech, Milford Academy, Florida International and Hampton University.
Duquesne, which returns 16 position starters, won three of its last four to tie Sacred Heart for the regular-season Northeast Conference title. The lone loss, which came at SHU on Nov. 9 (10-0), prevented the Dukes from earning the NEC's automatic bid to the NCAA Football Championship.
Twenty-three position returnees started at least once last season.
Twelve freshmen saw action in 2103: QB Dillon Buechel (RS), WR Chavas Rawlins, CB Sterling Parks, spec teams Xavier Nelson (RS), spec teams Anthony Alimenti (RS), LB Aaron Reed (RS), OL Larson Graham (RS), PK Austin Crimmins (RS), PR Bobby Gustine, TE Kevin Enright (RS), DL Jake Radziukinas (RS) & RB Zach DeNardo (RS). Buechel, Reed, Graham and Crimmins started every game. All but Parks (transfer) are back.
DU, which is 19-11 in NEC play over the past three seasons (5-3 in 2010, 7-1 in 2011, 3-5 in 2012 & 4-2 in 2013), won a share of the conference title for the second time in three years in 2013. The Dukes went 4-11 in their first two seasons in the conference (2-5 in 2008 and 2-6 in 2009).
DU has defeated every NEC team - both home and away - under current head coach Jerry Schmitt except CCSU. The Dukes, who have defeated the Blue Devils at home, have yet to win on CCSU's Arute Field under Schmitt (0-3). DU travels to CCSU on Oct. 11.
Dillon Buechel completed 58.2 percent of his passes for a freshman record 2,569 yards and 14 touchdowns (120.37 efficiency rating) in earning NEC Rookie of the Week honors three times last season. Buechel was the first freshman to open the season under center since Scott Knapp in 2005. Buechel replaced Sean Patterson, who started 33 consecutive games from 2010-12.
Junior LB Christian Kuntz, who tied for the team lead in tackles (74) and led the Dukes in TFL (19.5) and sacks (9.0) in 2013, is questionable for the 2014 season after suffering an off-the-field knee injury in the spring. Kuntz, a Sports Network Third Team All-American, ranked 1st nationally in tackles for loss per game at 1.8. First-year Purdue transfer Armstead Williams is the frontrunner to replace Kuntz should Kuntz not be able to play in 2014.
315-pound junior tackle Zach Zidian was a big reason linebackers ranked first, second and fourth on the team in total tackles. The Youngstown, Ohio native - when he wasn't occupying multiple offensive linemen - had 44 stops of his own (including 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks). In addition, Zidian - a second team All-NEC pick, showed a nose for the football with a team-high four fumble recoveries.
Senior safety Rich Piekarski, who finished third on the team with 70 tackles, led the team with two interceptions and seven passes broken up.
Duquesne is 22-17 in non-conference games under head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (three times), Bucknell (twice), Fordham (twice) Albany (once as a CAA member) and Monmouth (as an independent). At home, the Dukes are 14-2 in non-league play. DU plays its most ambitious non-conference game in recent history when it heads to Buffalo (Mid-American Conference) for the 2014 season opener. It will be DU's first game against a BCS school.