After being blown out in their season opener against Old Dominion, the Duquesne Dukes have rebounded nicely with consecutive victories against Dayton and Valparaiso.
They get the opportunity to make it three in a row this Saturday when Jerry Schmitt’s team opens up Northeast Conference play on the road against Bryant University. The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the preseason coaches’ poll and are off to an 0-3 start on the season.
But while things seem to be coming together nicely for Duquesne on both sides of the ball, the key to this game may be as simple as who can slow down the opposition’s rushing attack.
This particular matchup features two of the best all-around running backs in the FCS in Duquesne’s Larry McCoy and Bryant’s Jordan Brown.
Their impressive resume’s stack up very nicely against one another as McCoy ranks second among FCS runners with 3,823 career yards, while Brown is third with 3,493. Brown has 22 career 100-yard rushing games, while McCoy tied the Duquesne school record with his 21st last Saturday at Valparaiso. Brown has 35 career rushing TDs, McCoy has 31 and so on.
On the season, McCoy has rushed for 354 yards and five touchdowns; including a 125-yard performance against Dayton and a 171-yard game against Valpo. Brown though is off to a bit of a slower start on the season, rushing for only 231 yards on 63 carries, only finding the end zone on one occasion.
For the Dukes to return home with their third consecutive win, preventing a breakout game from brown will be big for the young Duquesne defense, which has come together nicely, allowing only 24 total points in the past two weeks.
They could be getting Bryant at the right time as the Bulldogs have averaged only 100.7 yards on the ground as a team and quarterback Mike Westerhaus has thrown for only 141.3 yards per game.
On paper, this could be a big day for McCoy as he continues to climb up in the Duquesne record books. The Bryant defense has allowed a whopping 932 yards rushing, an average of 310.7 per game.
Against a team that has had such difficulties stopping the run, I would expect a heavy dose of both McCoy and quarterback Sean Patterson on the ground as the Dukes should look to exploit the Bulldogs weakness in a big way.
Saturday afternoon it could all come down to who can stop the run, At least on paper I’d give the Dukes a big edge in that department.
Photo Credit: Duquesne