Author Topic: Duquesne Week  (Read 1252 times)

Offline Double ET

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Re: Duquesne Week
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2022, 05:59:46 AM »
Article from today’s Tribune/Vindy:

Penguins open season vs. Duquesne

LOCAL SPORTS
SEP 1, 2022

JOEL WHETZEL
Staff writer
jwhetzel@tribtoday.com
 
 

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State receiver Latrell Fordham (3) turns up field after catching a pa$$ as Jordan Trowers (11) and Logan Pasco (34) close in to make a tackle during a team scrimmage Aug. 20. Fordham will make his debut for YSU on Saturday.

YOUNGSTOWN — Doug Phillips doesn’t need to look far for an example of how dangerous a Duquesne team coming off a Week 0 loss can be.

In fact, YSU’s third-year head coach pointed out Tuesday, one needs to only look back to the 2021 season. The Dukes began their last campaign with a 45-3 loss to TCU, only to turn around and knock off Ohio University in Athens, 28-26. They became the first Northeast Conference team to defeat an FBS opponent in the process.


This year, the Dukes began their campaign with a 47-7 loss at Florida State, and are in search of another fruitful trip across state lines as they pay Youngstown State a visit.

“We’re playing a team that played in Week 0, and you make your greatest strides as a team between Game 1 and Game 2,” Phillips said. “We haven’t had a Game 1 yet, and they have. They’ve gone down to Florida State, just like they did last year when they went down to TCU and then they came back the next week and drove down to Athens and beat a very good Ohio University football team. So they’ve been here before; they know it. They’re going to be a lot better this week than they were last week.”

That buy game aside, Duquesne does present an interesting Week 1 opponent for YSU. The Dukes, in their 18th season under Westminster graduate Jerry Schmitt, are coming off a 7-3 campaign that included separate win streaks of four and three games.

The Dukes bring a fair amount of their talent back from that squad, and also welcomed back quarterback Joe Mischler, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2021 opener at TCU. He struggled against FSU — 7-of-17 for 71 yards and a touchdown — but was a Spring 2021 All-NEC First Team selection before that. In that season, he was the fifth-most efficient quarterback in the FCS, with a rating of 159.3.


“(Mischler) is smart, heady, can throw the football and has great pocket awareness,” Phillips noted.

Defensive end James Jackson added, “(Duquesne likes) to get rid of the ball quick, so we have to make sure we’re getting our hands up on the defensive line and be sound in coverage.”

His top target in Week 0 was Abdul Jenneh, who grabbed three pa$$es for 44 yards and the Dukes’ lone touchdown.

Duquesne’s bread and butter, however, is on the ground, where the Dukes this year feature a two-pronged attack with Samford transfer DeMarcus Ware (11 car., 30 yards vs. FSU) and 2021 All-NEC Second Team selection Billy Lucas (7 car., 13 yards vs. FSU). Lucas led Duquesne in 2021 with 699 yards on 137 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per rush.

That ground game is behind two-time All-NEC right tackle Vincent Lumia, who started in each of Duquesne’s 10 games last year.

That will provide an early test that’s perhaps welcomed by this Youngstown State defense, which finished last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in rushing yards allowed last season (221.5 yards per game).

Since then, the Penguins were active in the transfer portal, adding linebackers Greg Benton Jr. (Western Illinois) and Keon Freeman (Div. II University of Charleston) as well as strong safety Marcus Hooker (Ohio State).

Those three will look to make an immediate impact, as all of them made the two-deep depth chart and potentially could start. Valley Christian graduate Jordan Trowers, who first-year defensive coordinator Jahmal Brown said was the surprise of spring and fall camps, also is expected to make his first career start at defensive back.

Outside of those newcomers, the YSU defense features a lot of the same pieces it did a season ago.

“We weren’t very good defensively (in 2021),” Phillips bluntly a$$essed. “We haven’t earned anybody’s respect on the field. I think we need to take huge jumps defensively and in stopping the run and in scoring defense.”

Duquesne, meanwhile, certainly can relate.

The Dukes gave up 638 yards to Florida State, including 406 yards on the ground. Three Seminoles went for 100-plus yards in the win, and none of them needed more than 14 carries to do so.

That should bode well for a YSU team that features Preseason All-American Jaleel McLaughlin, the active career NCAA leader in both touchdowns and yards.

Then, too, YSU returns all five of its offensive linemen that were starting when the 2021 season concluded, providing helpful continuity up front. And if the depth chart is to be trusted, the offensive line as a whole has added some needed weight during the offseason, something Phillips emphasized at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

But, YSU center Mike McAllister noted, the Dukes have some size and capable defenders in their 3-4 defense.

Two-time All-NEC nose tackle Maxi Hradecny returns, as do defensive ends A.J. Ackerman and Kevin Kurzinger, who both started in all of Duquesne’s games last year. Duquesne also picked up some pieces in the transfer portal: Noah Palmer (Pitt) and Ryan Lopez (Stony Brook).

Todd Hill is back at outside linebacker after recording 38 tackles (21 solo) in 2021, earning him All-NEC Second Team honors. In the secondary, Jeremiah Josephs was an All-NEC Second Team player last year, and had a season-high nine tackles against Ohio.

When the YSU pa$$ing game is called upon, redshirt sophomore quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw will have one familiar face to turn to — Bryce Oliver. He nabbed eight touchdowns last season, the most of any Penguin receiver since 2011.

Outside of the junior transfer from Kentucky, however, the Penguins are a bit unproven. Slot receiver C.J. Charleston suffered an injury during fall camp, prompting Max Tomczak to take over that role. Tomczak was put on scholarship during a preseason in which he impressed the coaching staff.

FAMILIAR FACE

Duquesne linebacker Gianni Rizzo will get a shot at his former team Saturday, as the Norwin, Pa., native makes his first return to Stambaugh Stadium.

Rizzo redshirted at YSU in 2019, and then appeared in six games in both the Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 campaigns. He forced a fumble at Michigan State last season.

He’s listed as a starter on Duquesne’s depth chart.

PENGUINS ARE STREAKING

YSU enters Saturday’s contests in hopes of extending a trio of trends.

Youngstown State is 4-0 all-time against Duquesne, and has scored at least 34 points in each of those contests. The teams last met in 2019, a 34-14 YSU victory.

The Penguins haven’t fallen at home to a Keystone State team since 1978, when Villanova defeated YSU 22-17. Since then, Youngstown State has won 37 consecutive home games against teams from Pennsylvania, most of which came against Division II opponents.

Finally, YSU has won 38 of its last 40 nonconference home games since September 2004. The losses were to Liberty in 2008 (31-28) and Butler in 2018 (23-21).

PREDICTION

Given the Dukes’ trouble with stopping the run last week at Florida State, this should set up nicely for Youngstown State.

The Penguins obviously don’t feature the sort of line FSU does, but expect McLaughlin to turn in one of his trademark performances and explode for a few big runs to lead YSU to a win.

Youngstown State wins, 35-14.