PLAYOFF PREVIEW: William & Mary vs. Duquesne

WM vs Duq

Despite the Tribe’s disappointing loss to Richmond this past Saturday, William & Mary has garnered a first round HOME GAME in this year’s FCS playoffs! The playoff committee released the brackets today at 11 AM on ESPNU, which included 4 CAA teams (W&M, Richmond, JMU, and UNH); you can find the entire bracket here. This ends the Tribe’s 5-year playoff drought, which last saw the team in the playoffs way back in 2010. ESPN also interviewed Jimmye Laycock live on national television, which is always awesome.

W&M’s opponent will be the Duquesne Dukes out of Pittsburgh, PA. Interestingly, if William & Mary defeats Duquesne on Saturday, the Tribe will face the Richmond Spiders in the second round, who earned a first round bye. What are the odds? You already know what we’re thinking: revenge tour 2015. Time to take care of the Dukes first. Check out Jimmye’s reaction to the selection below, courtesy of the nationally broadcasted ESPN interview today!

Duquesne Dukes Football: This will be the first-ever meeting between William & Mary and Duquesne. Though the two have never met, the Dukes’ football program has been around a very long time, much like William & Mary’s; Duquesne’s first year on the gridiron was all the way back in 1891.Overall, the Dukes sport a respectable 438-319-68 overall program record. The team currently competes in the smaller Northeast Conference (NEC), consisting of 7 total teams.

Other teams in the NEC include Saint Francis, Sacred Heart, Bryant, Central Connecticut, Robert Morris, and Wagner. Duquesne is coached by Jerry Schmitt who is in his 11th year at the helm. Throughout his 11 years at head coach, Schmitt has accumulated a 67-50 record with the Dukes.

Linebacker Christian Kuntz leads a Dukes defense that ranks #1 in scoring offense in the NEC. [photo: necovertime.com]
Linebacker Christian Kuntz leads a Dukes team that ranks #1 in scoring defense in the NEC. [photo: necovertime.com]
Duquesne this Year: The Dukes qualified for their first FCS playoff with an automatic bid by winning the NEC with a 30-20 victory over Saint Francis Saturday. This year’s team is balanced, as they top the NEC in both scoring defense, allowing opponents just 16.3 points per game, and scoring offense, as they average 29 points per game on offense. The team is currently on a four-game win streak, and are 6-1 over the last 7 games.

Earlier in the year, the Dukes did play against a CAA opponent–the lowly Albany Great Danes who finished 3-8 (2-6 CAA) this season. In what was the fourth game of the season, Albany knocked of the Dukes by a score of 17-14. This was a bad loss for Duquesne, no doubt, but the team has come a long way since then. As stated, the team is hot–riding a winning streak that goes back several weeks. Even still, the Tribe should be able to take advantage of this NEC team at home on Saturday.

Duquesne’s Players to Watch: The Dukes have been able to rack up the points in the NEC this year. Leading the way is sophomore running back #9 Rafiq Douglas. Douglas averages 88.8 rushing yards per game, and has accumulated an impressive 11 rushing touchdowns. Under center is a redshirt junior, #5 Dillon Buechel. Buechel averages 222.5 yards per game passing, has a 56% completion rate, and a 18:6 TD to interception ratio. Both Douglas and Buechel rank in the top-three at their positions in the NEC this year.

#18 Chris King makes up a strong receiving core for Duquesne. [photo: duqsm.com]
#18 Chris King makes up a strong receiving core for Duquesne. [photo: duqsm.com]
Buechel has two strong targets in senior wide receivers #19 Chris King and #2 Wayne Capers. King averages 83.2 receiving yards per game, and Capers isn’t far behind with 65.7 yards per game. In addition, King has 7 receiving touchdowns and Capers has 6. Despite all these impressive stats, we have a hard time believing these two are better than Richmond’s Brown and Diggs that we saw last week. Even still, Tribe defensive backs such as Trey ReedDenzel Dykes, and others will need to step it up this week.

Defensively, redshirt junior #43 Christian Kuntz leads Duquesne in interceptions from the linebacker position, including two pick-sixes. Kuntz is also second on the team in total tackles with 65, and has an insane 9 sacks on the year. He really can do it all; watch out for #43 on Saturday. On special teams, the Dukes have a very solid kicker. #35 Austin Crimmins is 14/18 on all attempts, and has converted on 3/4 kicks from 40-49 yards out, including a long of 45 yards. If the Dukes need to kick a longer field goal, they certainly have the capability to do so.

The Tribe will need to win in the trenches in order for this team to make a run. [via Tribe Athletics]
The Tribe will need to win in the trenches in order for this team to make a run. [via Tribe Athletics]
Tribe Keys to Victory: 

  • Win the Battle in the Trenches: The Tribe did an absolutely terrible job in the trenches last week, to say the least. The team was controlled on both sides of the line, on defense and on offense. This week against a weaker opponent, W&M must re-establish its dominance in the trenches. Protect the quarterback and open up the run on offense, and stiffen up against the run and get to the quarterback on defense–as we’ve done all year. It’s time to get back to it.
  • Establish the Run Game: Of course, this goes hand in hand with winning in the trenches, but it can’t be stressed enough. With Steve Cluley‘s shaky game against Richmond last week in which he threw an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions, running backs Mikal Abdul-Saboor and Kendell Anderson must come alive. The running game has been silent in the last few games, and it’s time for them to come alive. Help Cluley out and pound the Dukes on the ground.
  • Get to the Quarterback: It’s time to get some pressure. We can’t allow teams’ quarterbacks to sit in the pocket all day and throw the ball downfield. William & Mary absolutely has to get to the quarterback, especially in the playoffs. The team will see several great quarterbacks before it’s all said and done; it’s time to get to the quarterback now. DeAndre Houston-CarsonLuke Rhodes, and Tyler Claytor will need to lead the way. Big players need to show up in big games.

Viewing: Saturday, 3:30 PM on ESPN3.com

Prediction: William & Mary 28 Duquesne 17
William & Mary may need some time to get on track in this one, following last week’s let down, but will pull away against a lesser NEC opponent. If Albany can do it, the Tribe can certainly do it. Let’s set up that Richmond game with a solid win over the Dukes on Saturday. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

One thought on “PLAYOFF PREVIEW: William & Mary vs. Duquesne

  1. Please don’t look past the Dukes they don’t play in a conference like the CAA but they are well coached and have some decent athletes.

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