Hawaii Football: First Look At The Duquesne Dukes
The Warriors will host FCS Duquesne during its five-game non-conference slate in September.
An easy home win, or something more?
Hawaii Football: First Look at 2022 Non-conference Opponents
The Hawaii Warriors will square off with a FCS opponent in Week 3 when the Duquesne Dukes visit the islands.
Duquesne isn’t getting the same kind of attention that other FCS foes are on this year’s Mountain West football schedule, but they’re no pushover. For a Warriors team turning the page to a new chapter in its program history, they should not be overlooked.
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Series History: Hawaii leads the all-time series, 1-0.
2021 Record: 7-3 (5-2 NEC)
Head Coach: Jerry Schmitt (18th year at Duquesne; 109-72 with Dukes, 137-93 overall). While the Dukes haven’t made a FCS playoff appearance since 2018, Duquesne has nonetheless strung together three winning seasons since under the stewardship of one of that level’s longest-tenured head coaches. Last year, Schmitt’s Dukes often lived on the razor’s edge, compiling a 4-1 record in games decided by eight or fewer points that included a shocking upset over the MAC’s Ohio Bobcats.
Billy Lucas, RB
Lucas is a rising star within the NEC who produced a conference rookie of the year campaign during the FCS’s 2021 spring season and then followed that up last fall with 699 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 137 carries. The Dukes aren’t shy about putting the ball in his hands, so the Warriors will need to be ready to slow the Erie, Pennsylvania native.
Maxi Hradecny, DL
While it’s a growing trend, there still aren’t that many European standouts across college football. You can count the Austrian Hradecny among their number, though, as the nose tackle started all ten games last fall and earned a second-team all-NEC nod with 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, as well as a PFF grade of 81.7 that was second among interior defenders in that conference.
— Duquesne Football (@DuqFB) September 5, 2021
Joey Isabella, WR
If the surname sounds familiar, that’s because Joey’s brother Andy was a former standout at Massachusetts and is now in the NFL. He spent most of the last calendar year as a depth piece, catching 29 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns between the spring and fall seasons, but he recently received a spot on the preseason all-NEC offense and figures to see more targets in a bigger role.
Darius Perrantes, QB
Perrantes spent 2019 at Rhode Island before transferring to Duquesne and his first campaign as QB1 ended up being a pretty good one. In nine games (including eight starts), he completed 60% of his passes for 1,620 yards and 17 touchdowns, though with an interception rate of 3.0%.
This for my people who ain’t make it this far… LongLiveSeven 🏁🖤 pic.twitter.com/jNh13YWBji
— Darius Perrantes (@dmperrantes) June 15, 2022
Todd Hill, LB
Hill has been a defensive standout in his two seasons as a starter at middle linebacker, earning a spot on the all-SEC second-team defense in both the spring and fall campaigns last year. In 15 combined starts, he picked up 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.
Duquesne maximized most of their opportunities last year despite averaging only 5.54 yards per play. The Dukes moved the chains on 43.9% of their third downs, the 11th-best mark in FCS, and got points on 94.9% of their trips to the red zone, which ranked third. Can they fight regression and do that again?
Any step forward that Perrantes takes in his second year as QB1 will help, but Lucas will be there to shoulder a big burden, as well. One big challenge will be finding new reliable targets in the passing game, as the Dukes must replace their top five pass catchers from last season. Isabella appears to be one candidate, but others like Toledo transfer Jalin Cooper and Old Dominion transfer Rafael McCoy could be just as important.
The Dukes defense wasn’t exactly elite last year, but they had a way of buckling down when it mattered most. Despite finishing just 54th among FCS teams with 5.46 yards per play allowed, Duquesne ranked 16th in allowing conversions on 31.7% of third downs it faced and 11th with a 70.3% red zone conversation rate allowed.
Hradecny, Hill, and defensive back Jeremiah Josephs were all recently named to the preseason all-NEC defense, so there’s at least a foundation at all three levels of this unit upon which to build. Defensive lineman Kevin Kurzinger looks like a keeper, too, after posting four sacks and a team-high eight tackles for loss as a freshman, but creating more disruptive plays up front will go a long way.
The Dukes will make for a decent test against a Hawaii team that’s rebuilding on both sides of the ball, but the Warriors should still possess the overall talent advantage and find enough explosiveness on offense to keep any upset bid at arm’s length.
Hawaii 38, Duquesne 21