On Sunday at noon, the Duquesne Dukes will look to complete the sweep of the four-game 2020-21 regular season when they travel to Rhode Island to take on the Bryant Bulldogs.
The Dukes, who clinched a spot in the NEC Championship game with last Sunday’s win over LIU, will try to slow down the run-heavy Bulldogs offense.
In three games this spring, Bryant has averaged 160.7 yards per game on the ground to just 113.3 passing yards per game, and has scored seven rushing touchdowns to just one passing touchdown. The Bulldogs have three players with at least 20 rushing attempts on the year, including freshman quarterback Ryan Clark.
“You just have to watch film with your team as much as you possibly can,” head coach Jerry Schmitt said, “identify who the potential opponents could be across from them, and just make them understand that there’s gonna be different people in the football game, so you try to highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the guys they will be going against or the guys they have to read, just elevates their awareness somewhat.”
An important piece in slowing the Bulldogs down will be senior safety Leandro DeBrito, who won NEC Defensive Player of the Week last week in part because of his late-game interception. DeBrito leads the Dukes in both solo (19) and total tackles (26). Sophomore linebacker Todd Hill, junior defensive tackle Maxi Hradecny, and senior safety Spencer DeMedal lead the team with two tackles for loss each.
“In the end we always talk about it’s really about us and what we do and how we play,” Schmitt said. “The other element in that situation is, while you’re preparing for the other team, you have to make sure you prepare yourself.”
Obviously, preparation this year has been unlike any other, but Schmitt sees that through the struggle of the unprecedented circumstances, he has a team of guys that are fully bought into the team.
“I think we learned that we have a lot of guys that are committed to doing what we need to do to get better on a daily basis, which included all the protocols, as well as the physical and mental preparation for football.”
In Schmitt’s 16 years at Duquesne, the Dukes have never started a season 4-0.