Sunday at noon, Duquesne will travel to Hameline Field in Staten Island, NY. to take on the Wagner Seahawks for its second game of the 2020-21 season. Head coach Jerry Schmitt will have a chance to become the ninth active FCS coach with 100 career wins with their current program. Schmitt, the winningest coach in program history, took over in 2005.
While the Dukes won their season opener 30-27 last week against Sacred Heart, Wagner’s match up with Merrimack was postponed on Feb. 27 due to a positive COVID test within Wagner’s system. Schmitt saw this as an both an advantage and disadvantage for his team.
“Yes, it will be their first game and a challenge for their players,” Schmitt said, “But the possible balancing effect of them not playing is we really have no idea what they’re going to do schematically because we don’t have film on them and they are an entirely new staff. Some of those players weren’t on the team or on film, and didn’t play the last time we played. So it’s a huge challenge for us to prepare not knowing what they’re going to do.”
Schmitt said that because of this lack of information on their opponent, the Dukes will have to prepare for “anything and everything.” He added that looking at the history of their coaches and being ready to make in-game adjustment will be key for his team on Sunday.
Despite the 1-0 start for Duquesne, Schmitt mentioned that there were some ‘game-speed mistakes’ and that being off for over 15 months amplified that. He said that this year, just like a ‘normal year’, the team simply has to focus on the fundamentals and take on the execution concepts at a high speed in practice.
This game against Wagner will be the first on the road for Duquesne, and Schmitt outlined what a road trip during the pandemic will look like.
“We have increased the number of buses we will take for proper spacing of our travel party,” he said. “It’s a pretty intense, detailed travel itinerary. It always is a detailed itinerary but even now more so following protocols. Another example would be meals at the hotel. We would eat as a team, now we’re utilizing the grab and go concept. We do have some opportunities with a big banquet room where we normally would eat our team meal, that we could put a position group in there anywhere from 6-12 players and their position coach could have plenty of space to be 10, 15, 20 feet apart and be able to watch some film and go over some chalk talk. But as far as groups, offense, defense and team meetings, those will all be Zoom from their hotel rooms.”
Duquesne has won the last five meetings with Wagner, and the Dukes have outscored the Seahawks 176-91 in those meetings. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be broadcast on NEC Front Row.