Aug. 28, 2017
The Dukes and No. 4/6 Jackrabbits will meet in the 2017 season opener on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7pm CT at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, S.D. Duquesne is receiving 14 votes in the 2017 STATS FCS Preseason Top 25.
Duquesne posted an 8-3 record last season with a 5-1 mark in Northeast Conference play, earning a share of the conference crown. The Dukes have captured at least a share of the NEC title in four of the last six seasons. (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016).
South Dakota State finished 9-4 overall and 7-1 in Missouri Valley Football Conference action, clinching the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Football Subdivision Championship (FCS) postseason. After earning a bye, the eighth-seeded Jackrabbits topped Villanova 10-7 in the second round before falling to North Dakota State 36-10 in the quarterfinals.
This marks Duquesne's fifth matchup against a ranked FCS opponent and first since facing No. 13/13 William & Mary in the 2015 FCS Playoffs. The Dukes are 0-4 against nationally-ranked opponents.
Entering the season fourth in the STATS FCS Top 25 and sixth in the FCS Coaches Poll, South Dakota State is the highest-ranked FCS opponent Duquesne has ever faced.
Duquesne returns 13 position starters entering the 2017 season (five on offense, eight on defense).
The Dukes are 32-24 in non-conference games under 13th-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (six times), Bucknell (four times), Fordham (twice), Albany (once as a CAA member) and Monmouth (as an independent). At home, the Dukes are 22-3 in non-league play.
Head coach Jerry Schmitt enters the fall looking to develop a replacement for four-year starting quarterback Dillon Buechel (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour). Buechel, who finished his career as the NEC all-time passing leader with 10,320 yards, threw for 75 touchdowns as a three-time All-NEC player. The 2016 Walter Payton Award finalist led the Dukes to three Northeast Conference championships (2013-co, 2015 & 2016-co) and the school's first FCS Playoff appearance (2015).
Schmitt will look to Boise State graduate transfer Tommy Stuart (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall/Boise State) (6-0, 205), redshirt sophomore Brett Brumbaugh (McDonald, Pa/South Fayette) (6-4, 215) and true freshman Alex Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) (6-4, 200) to fill the void. Stuart attempted 23 passes in 12 games at BSU. Brumbaugh has attempted one pass as a Duke.
The new QB will be working with a talented - but young - receiving corps led by junior Nehari Crawford (30-359-3). Gone are starting wideouts Wayne Capers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley/Arizona) (51-959, 9 TDs) and Blair Roberts (Rochester, N.Y./Trinity-Pawling/Old Dominion) (47-782, 8 TDs).
An area of strength should be the running game with Jerry Rice Award-winning sophomore RB A.J. Hines (Wilson, N.C./Fike ) (1,296 yards and 13 TDs) and junior P.J. Fulmore (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Catholic) (355 yards and two TDs) returning.
The 5-11, 225-pound Hines, who enters the season as the nation's fifth-leading returning rusher (117.4 ypg.), and the 5-7, 200-pound Fulmore, will be running behind a veteran offensive line led by senior guard Ben Huss, a Third Team STATS FCS All-American and three-time All-NEC player as well as junior guard Matt Fitzpatrick (Pennsauken, N.J./Bishop Eustace), a second team All-NEC pick. Junior left tackle Alex Conley (Akron, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit ) is the third returning starter on the o-line.
Duquesne returns its top two tacklers in senior linebackers Carter Henderson (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional/Penn State ) (90 tackles) and Nathan Stone (Scottdale, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic ) (73 tackles). The pair combined for 15.5 tackles for loss (7.5 by Henderson and 8.0 by Stone). Henderson and Stone, who started all 11 games last season, will help ease the loss of three-time All-American and NEC all-time sack leader Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley).
Redshirt junior safety Abner Roberts, who finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles and led the team with eight passes broken up, will anchor an experienced secondary that includes returning starters junior Jonathant Istache (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) (CB), redshirt junior Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville/Penn State) (CB) and junior Brandon Stanback (Harisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt/Buffalo) (S). Redshirt senior nickel back Malik Shegog (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) (CB) is also back.
This marks just the second meeting between the Dukes and Jackrabbits. The two teams last met on Nov. 11, 1932 with Duquesne claiming a 34-12 victory in Pittsburgh. The Dukes went on to finish with a 7-2-1 ledger that season under head coach Elmer Layden.
SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
The Jackrabbits enter the 2017 campaign fourth in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25 following a Missouri Valley Football Conference title and FCS quarterfinal appearance in 2016.
South Dakota State was picked to finish second in the MVFC, trailing just North Dakota State. The Bison earned 21 of a possible 40 votes following an appearance in the 2016 FCS semifinals. Youngstown State, the 2016 national runner-up and who Duquesne opened the season against last year, was picked to finish third in the conference in 2017.
The Jackrabbits paced all teams with six selections on the 2017 STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team. All told, the MVFC led all conferences with 17 Preseason All-Americans.
Headlining the selections was is senior tight end Dallas Goedert. A 2016 STATS FCS All-America First Team honoree, he recorded a school-record 92 receptions for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The NFL prospect had seven 100-yard receiving games in 2016.
Wide Receiver Jake Wieneke, center Jacob Ohnesorge and linebacker Christian Rozeboom rounded out South Dakota State's first team selections.
Wieneke earned All-America honors for the third season in a row in 2016 with a second-team selection by STATS after tallying 78 receptions for 1,316 yards and matching his own school record with 16 touchdowns. Wieneke enters his senior season as the SDSU and Missouri Valley Football Conference career leader in both receiving yards (4,192) and receiving touchdowns (43). Ohnesorge enters the 2017 season with a streak of 39 consecutive starts.
Rozeboom finished as the 2016 runner-up for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football behind Duquesne running back A.J. Hines. Hines edged Rozeboom by just one vote for the award. Rozeboom led the Jackrabbits with 132 tackles to go with five tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. He was named to the Buchanan Award list earlier this month, which is presented to the top defensive player in the FCS.
Quarterback Taryn Chrstion and fullback Kane Louscher garnered third team selections for South Dakota State. Christion, the 2016 MVFC Offensive Player of the Year, set or tied 11 single-game and single-season school records as a sophomore. He threw for a school-record 3,714 yards and tied an SDSU mark with 30 touchdowns. He also ran for 335 yards in becoming the first Jackrabbit to top 4,000 yards of total offense in a season. Louscher has been primarily used as a lead blocker throughout his Jackrabbit career.
In addition, Christion, Wieneke and Goedert were each named to the 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award Watch List. All three players were finalists last season.
South Dakota State opened the 2016 campaign against TCU and hung with the Horned Frogs as the matchup was knotted up at the half. The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense in the contest.