@DuqFB Opens 2016 Season Thursday Evening at Youngstown State
Aug. 30, 2016
DUKES AND PENGUINS: This is the third meeting between Duquesne and Youngstown State with YSU holding a 2-0 advantage in the series. The Dukes and Penguins first met in 2013 in Ohio with the home team capturing a 59-17 victory. Duquesne travelled to Youngstown again in 2014 and suffered a 34-23 setback.
LAST MEETING: Duquesne posted 322 second half yards and outscored Youngstown State, 16-3 in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 28-0 deficit as the Dukes lost to the Penguins, 34-23 in Youngstown. Dillon Buechel was 25-44 passing for 347 yards with touchdown passes of 64 and 57 yards. Then freshman Nathan Stone led the Dukes with nine tackles (4 solo).
ABOUT DUQUESNE: The Dukes won their third Northeast Conference title in five years, finishing the 2015 season 8-4 (5-1 NEC) and playing in their first ever FCS Playoff. Picked to defend as NEC champions by the league's coaches, the Red and Blue return seven starters on offense and six on defense, including six players who were named to the 2016 NEC Preseason Team. Duquesne is led by senior All-American linebacker Christian Kuntz, who led the nation in tackles for a loss in 2015 with 26 and senior preseason All-Conference quarterback Dillon Buechel, who enters his senior campaign second all-time at Duquesne in career completions (593), completion percentage (.583) and passing yards (7,465).
ABOUT YOUNGSTOWN STATE: The Penguins are coming off a 5-6 season under second year head coach Bo Pelini, finishing with a 3-5 mark in Missouri Valley Football Conference play. YSU was pickeded to finish fifth of 10 teams in the league's preseason poll. They are led by preseason Al-American senior defensive end Derek Rivers and preseason All-Conference senior tailback Jody Webb. Rivers posted nine sacks in 2015 and had 15.5 tackles for a loss while Webb rushed for team highs of 857 yards and nine touchdowns.
IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY: Duquesne is 29-22 in non-conference games under 12th-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Dayton (four times), Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Bucknell (three), Monmouth (twice) and Fordham (twice). At home, the Dukes are 21-2 in non-league play under Schmitt, while on the road Schmitt's Dukes have fashioned an 8-20 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 4-2 in non-conference games in 2014 and finished 3-2 last year.
PRE-SEASON ALL-NEC: Six Dukes were named to the 2016 Northeast Conference Preseason All-Conference Teams as senior quarterback Dillon Buechel, senior wide receiver Wayne Capers and junior lineman Ben Huss were all named on offense and senior linebacker Christian Kuntz, senior lineman Jake Radziukinas and junior linebacker Nathan Stone were tabbed on defense.
MAKING A CAREER OF IT: Seniors Christian Kuntz, Austin Crimmins and Dillon Buechel climbed their ways onto Duquesne's all-time career leaders list last season and look to climb higher in 2016. Kuntz registered 10 sacks last season to give him 21 on his career and move him into fifth place all-time at Duquesne. He is 6.5 behind the school leader Antoine Bullock. Crimmins has sole possession of the top spot in career field goals made with 44. The placekicker was good on a Duquesne single season record 15 as a freshman, had 13 in 2015 and had a single-season record 16 last year. He is currently second all-time in career points by a kicker with 228, five points off the leader, and is tied for fourth in career PAT's with 96. Buechel is second all-time in completions with 593 and second in attempts with 1,017. He is also second in career pass completion percentage at .583, second in yards at 7,465 and fourth in career touchdowns with 52 .
SUCCESSIVE STARTS: Senior right tackle Larson Graham has started all 35 games of his collegiate career and has the longest current starts streak on the team. He is followed by junior linebacker Nathan Stone who has 24 consecutive starts, all 12 games in each of the last two seasons. Right behind Stone is junior cornerback Malik Shegog who has 23 straight starts.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Duquesne is slated to play four games on ESPN3 this season, the most in program history. Thanks to the Northeast Conference's television package, Duquesne's home game versus Robert Morris on Oct. 15 will be aired on the trey as will its road contest on Oct. 21 as the Dukes travel to Saint Francis for a Friday night game. The season opener at Youngstown State on Sept. 1 and the Oct. 1 contest at Jacksonville will also be available to a national audience on ESPN3.
ALL-AMERICAN PERFORMANCE: Senior linebacker Christian Kuntz has received Preseason All-America laurels from four organizations. Kuntz, who received four postseason All-America accolades last season, was also the Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the nation in tackles for a loss in FCS in 2015 with 26 for a total of 114 yards while adding 72 total tackles (47 solo), four interceptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns, 11 sacks for a loss of 70 yards, six pass break-ups and six quarterback hurries.
FBS INFLUENCE: There are 12 players who were previously on FBS rosters on the Duquesne roster in 2016, nine of whom are on the Dukes' opening day two-deep. Those players include senior WR Wayne Capers, Jr. (Arizona), sophomore QB Kareem Coles (Idaho), junior WR Jaquan Davidson (Pitt), sophomore LB Bryan Glover (Eastern Michigan), junior LB Carter Henderson (Penn State), junior WR Thomas Lucas (UConn), redshirt P/PK Mitch MacZura (Ohio State), junior WR Chavas Rawlins (West Virginia), graduate transfer WR Blair Roberts (Old Dominion), sophomore DB Brandon Stanback (Buffalo), senior LB Gary Wooten (Penn State) and sophomore DB Daquan Worley (Penn State).
QUICK START WHEN IT COUNTS: Duquesne's football team, which joined the Northeast Conference in 2008, is 7-1 in NEC openers. The Dukes won its initial NEC game at home versus Saint Francis, 21-7 in 2008 before falling at Monmouth in year two, 17-10. Since then, DU has won its last six NEC openers dating back to its 2010, 28-17 win over Albany.
CAPTAINS: Duquesne's captains for the 2016 season are senior QB Dillon Buechel (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour), senior OL Larson Graham (Wyoming, Ohio/Wyoming), junior OL Ben Huss (Upper St. Clair, Pa/Upper St. Clair), senior LB Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley), senior DL Jake Radziukinas (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Upper St. Clair) and junior LB Nathan Stone (Scottdale, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic).