Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Coach: Jerry Schmitt (83-58)
Stadium: Rooney Field (Capacity: 2,200)
185th: Division I
2017 In A Sentence: The Dukes seemed to be cruising towards another NEC title, but promptly lost their last three games – two to conference opponents – to finish 7-4.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: Boise State transfer QB Bobby Stuart came into Pittsburgh and met lofty expectations, passing for 27 TDs, 2,405 yards and achieving NEC Offensive Player of the Year. That’s not exactly an easy guy to replace.
Key Player: Can Duquesne’s heir to Bobby Stuart form the same sort of quarterback-to-wideout bond that Stuart shared with WR Nehari Crawford last year? As Stuart’s go-to guy, Crawford was a 1,000 yard receiver with 15 TDs, and whomever ends up being Jerry Schmitt’s QB he’ll have to have a gameplan to get Nehari the ball early and often. Crawford might need to be the guy that the offense leans on a bit extra, too.
Fearless Prediction: Duquesne has one of the most interesting schedules in the NEC this year, with games against two FBS teams (UMass and Hawai’i) that are not unwinnable, along with a strong Division II opponent (Lock Haven). After that stretch, the Dukes will hit conference play with a critical game against Bryant. That game could be the one that catapults Duquense to another NEC title, or sees them fall back to the pack.