Duquesne vs. Hawaii: Get to Know the Dukes
The Hawaii Warriors host Duquesne on Saturday night, so we talked with Parker Hurley of Pittsburgh Sports Now to preview Dukes football.
Hawaii can’t overlook their next opponent.
Hawaii will wrap up its September non-conference slate on Saturday night with a homecoming date against the Duquesne Dukes. The Warriors hope to get the offense back on track and overwhelm its FCS opponent, coasting to an easy win. Seems plausible, right?
The game could be tough, however, as Duquesne has fought their way to a 3-1 record so far. Like Hawaii, they have a bit of explosiveness in their own offense and it could easily turn into an unexpected track meet.
Matthew Kenerly: One guy who stands out in the Dukes offense is wide receiver Nehari Crawford. For those readers who don’t watch a lot of FCS football, how would you compare his game to someone that might be more familiar?
Parker Hurley: I also cover the NFL, so I do not get to watch too much FBS action; however, a name some college diehards and NFL fans may compare Nehari Crawford to stylistically would be Christian Kirk from Texas A&M and the Arizona Cardinals. Or John Ross on the Cincinnati Bengals now, formerly at Washington. Crawford is undersized but electric. He can beat you in so many ways. Crawford blazes off of the line into space, is elusive with the ball in his hands, and is dynamic in the punt return game. There are some questions regarding his physicality, but he is tough to jam, because with his quicks off of the line of scrimmage, once he beats you, he can take the top off. Crawford has a punt return for a touchdown this season and is coming off of the best game of his career, which featured 11 receptions, for 223 yards and two touchdowns, winning in all of the ways mentioned.
MK: What can you tell us about quarterback Daniel Parr? I noticed that he already has five interceptions in Duquesne’s first four games, and I wondered whether that was characteristic of him or something that’s more of an aberration.
PH: Daniel Parr has arm talent and some athleticism. That is clear in the fact that Parr went to Florida Atlantic and started before hurting his foot and deciding to transfer. However, between transferring and starting late, he is still catching up in this offense. It has been evident through the early season that they have relied heavily on the run to open things up in the passing game later. The team also uses the short passing — bubble screens and quick slants to Crawford — to try to set some things up for Parr.
Parr threw three interceptions against FBS UMass to start his career in Duquesne. Since then, he has tampered down, all aside from a poor decision with a lead late into their game last week against Dayton. Still, the Dukes are throwing Parr into the fire against teams such as UMass and Hawaii, and letting him rip it late against Dayton, so that he will have a more comfortable feel in the offense by the start of conference play next week.
MK: One name that Mountain West football fans will recognize is cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros, a former Boise State blue-chip prospect. How has he fit in with the Dukes secondary so far, and what role do you think he’ll handle against Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense?
PH: The Dukes have three cornerbacks they trust in Jonathant Isatache, Daquan Worley and Reid Harrison-Ducros. What they like about the three is that they can move all three in and out of the slot and play matchups on the outside. Harrison-Ducros has been a staple in helping that happen. However, it will be worth noting that he was in and out of the lineup last week late into the game. The Dukes were doing a lot of shuffling in the back end which [head coach Jerry] Schmitt had chalked up to injuries postgame.
It affected a pass defense that was having a tremendous start to their season. Last week against Dayton, a redshirt freshman quarterback marched his team down the field, one play away from pulling off a comeback upset. That is after starting 5-13 when the defensive group was fully loaded. Schmitt did not have an update postgame, but how they shuffle these three will be worth noting.
MK: Who in the Duquesne front seven is the playmaker that Warriors fans should keep an eye on and why?
PH: Junior Brett Zanotto leads the team in tackles with 28 through four games. He is the leader of the group. He is a physical presence but has the speed of a run and chase type of player. Zanotto is a transfer from Maryland who made play after play last week against Dayton to help preserve that lead. It saw him named the All-NEC defensive player of the week.
MK: Finally, how do you think this game will play out, and do you have a prediction?
PH: The Dukes opened their season on the road at FBS UMass and got handled 63-15. While the Dukes are a better team now than at that point, UMass has lost three straight FBS games since then. On the other side is Hawaii, who is playing uptempo and has caught some eyes across the NCAA landscape this season.
On top of questions in the secondary, A.J. Hines left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not play in the second half last week. As mentioned, he is the straw that stirs the drink and helps things open up for Parr and Crawford. The team has struggled to find consistency when he leaves the lineup as well, making his value even more important. When compounding that with some injury questions in the secondary, the Dukes may be in for a long day against Hawaii.
I do not have much of a score prediction, but Hawaii will likely win comfortably, especially if Duquesne cannot control the clock on offense.