Saturday afternoon is the first chance for much of the Flyer Faithful to see Dayton football in action. Dayton has its first home game of the season after a successful 2-0 start to the year, including a win over 14th-ranked Indiana State in week one.
We know what to expect from Adam Trautman, Jack Cook and company, but Duquesne provides a new challenge early in the season. I’ve enlisted the help of David Borne, the sports editor at The Duquesne Duke, for help previewing this weekend’s matchup.
I asked David a few questions about the upcoming matchup, and he delivered with some answers that should give us a sneak peak at Dayton’s competition this Sunday.
Duquesne is coming off a very successful season, what has changed and what has stayed the same?
David Borne: A good amount of talent from last year’s NEC Championship squad returns this year for Duquesne. While the team lost a number of big time contributors to graduation, the team’s overall depth and ability to land Division I transfers plugged the gaps left by the departing seniors.
The offensive line and receiving core have a bit of a new look to them. Nehari Crawford, the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards, along with All-NEC team linemen Matt Fitzpatrick and Alex Conley, left the biggest holes to fill.
Daniel Parr and A.J. Hines return and lead Duquesne’s offensive game. Parr’s a versatile QB that threw for over 2,000 yards last season. Hines is an absolute beast. He’s the top running back in the NEC. That’s all that really needs to be said. His numbers say enough.
Even with the loss of Crawford, Duquesne still has a solid group of receivers. Kellon Taylor and Kareem Coles are back, and Davie Henderson seems to be emerging as one of Parr’s go-to passing options.
What is Duquesne’s outlook for this current season?
DB: Duquesne was selected to finish at the top of the NEC again this season in the preseason poll. It’s tough to tell exactly where the team is at right now because they’ve played Walsh (DII) and Youngstown State, who is annually one of the top FCS programs in the nation.
2019 should be another successful year for Duquesne, but this weekend’s matchup with Dayton will probably provide a better look at the team’s current status.
Who are the main Duquesne players to look out for?
DB: Like I said before, A.J. Hines has to be one of the most exciting offensive players to watch in the FCS. He’s on pace to become Duquesne’s all-time leading rusher by the end of this season, and his combination of size and speed makes it so tough for opposing defenses to bring him down.
On the defensive side of the ball, I would keep an eye on Reid Harrison-Ducross and Chris Favoroso. Harrison-Ducross is shutdown corner and has given Duquesne’s coverage efforts a huge boost since he transferred from Boise State. Favoroso has looked extremely comfortable this season and leads the team in tackles with 13.
Dayton’s main asset is the throwing game. How is Duquesne’s defense set up to contain that?
DB: Duquesne has a really talented group of defensive backs, and they play a lot of man coverage. Harrison-Ducross headlines the group. He has a strong group of safeties behind him as well, as Spencer DeMedal and Duke transfer Mason Williams have proven to be pretty reliable as well.
The defense will probably use a lot of blitz schemes and stunts in an effort to create confusion for Jack Cook as well.
What’s your score prediction?
DB: Duquesne and Dayton have played each other all three years that I’ve been on campus, and I think each of those games have been pretty close. This weekend should be another fun one to watch, and even though Dayton is at home, I’m going to roll with the Dukes for my prediction.
Duquesne 34, Dayton 24
While I can’t say I agree with his score prediction, thanks to David for his extra insight on what should end up being a competitive game.
The game kicks off at 12 p.m. Saturday, and you can catch it at Welcome Stadium or on the Facebook livestream. Make sure you stay tuned to the Flyer News Sports Twitter page (@FlyerNewsSports) for live updates throughout the game and all of our coverage after the game!