Will Troy Calhoun stay undefeated vs. the FCS?
Tune up or upset alert?
What about Duquesne?
Head Coach: Jerry Schmitt
Conference: Northeast (FCS)
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2019 Record: 6-4
The 2020 variety of the Falcons obligatory FCS season opener comes by way of the Duquesne Dukes. This is one where I really wish Air Force was playing an away game, as Duquesne University is only 30 miles away from me. Fun Fact, I actually worked in the city of Duquesne for five years.
In 2019 the Dukes got off to a good start, going 6-2 before stumbling to the finish, losing their final 3 games. They ended the season in the middle of the Northeast Conference at 6-5. One of the five losses ironically came at the hands of fellow Mountain West member, Hawai’i, where they entered the second half only down by seven, before succumbing by a respectable score of 41-21.
One of the major reasons Duquesne was able to find success last year was their ground game. Similar to Air Force, they actually rushed for more yardage than they passed, grinding out of 2,000 yards on the ground.
Its also no coincidence that their season started to get away from them, when Duquesne lost starting quarterback, and former Florida Atlantic transfer, Daniel Parr. The injuries piled up for the Dukes in general by years end, and the team will look very different as they take the field in Colorado Springs, in 2020 for their opener.
What to Expect
Duquesne is no slouch as it pertains to NEC (Northeast Conference) or even FCS teams in general. They won their conference just two years ago, in 2018, and have been crowned the conference champs in two of the past four seasons. They expect to compete in every game, every season.
Unfortunately for them, in even the most generous of definitions, to compete with Air Force would be a very tall order. Gone are the two-deep, top producers for the Dukes at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
The departure of NFL Prospect Daniel Parr was previously documented. But what is going to be impossible to replace is the ground production from an outstanding tandem of running backs in Mark Allen and A.J. Hines.
Mark Allen was a Penn State transfer who provided plenty of production on a very run oriented offense. A.J. Hines on the other hand leaves Duquesne as the most decorated runner in the programs history; graduating as the all-time leader in most rushing categories.
The Dukes may do a nice job of filling holes on their offense in particular, but that will only be relevent as it relates to their conference play. They have the unfortunate task of trying to sort those things out against a pre-season top 25 Air Force team that will in all likelihood impose their will.
Prediction: Air Force wins by Name Your Score