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Duquesne Opens College Football Season Tonight At Florida State



Duquesne will be looking for their second FBS victory in program history on Saturday afternoon when they take on Florida State at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. The odds are not in the Dukes’ favor, as they’re 42.5-point underdogs, but that’s not hindering head coach Jerry Schmitt’s approach heading into Tallahassee.

“We pretty much are going to go with what we do all the time; we’re trying to go play our best football,” Schmitt said. “When that’s your focus, it gives you the best chance to be successful. And this first game is always a challenge in itself just because you have to establish what your best football is. We have a lot of new guys — getting the routine down, the travel and the logistics and game operations. It will be an interesting first game.”

Schmitt thinks the challenge of playing against a team like Florida State will be a good test for the Dukes, especially when it comes to matching up with the Seminoles’ speed.

“Florida State’s really good in the fact that they have explosive athletes,” Schmitt said. “It’s a great challenge for us. We’re looking forward to playing in that atmosphere. It’s a great opportunity for our young men to experience that.”

The capacity of Rooney Field is only 4,500 and it’s about the same for all of Duquesne’s conference opponents. Doak S. Campbell Stadium has a capacity of 79,560. So, yeah, the Dukes are heading into uncharted waters. And nearly all of the fans in attendance will be doing the historic tomahawk chop war chant prior to the game, as well.

“In practice, we’ve been playing noise during our team sessions, we have been playing the Florida State chant as loud as we possibly can, so our guys get used to it and get comfortable operating under those circumstances,” Schmitt said.

Joe Mischler (13) Duquesne Football April 11, 2021 Photo by David Hague/PSN

After suffering a season-ending ACL/meniscus injury in the season opener against TCU last year, Joe Mischler is back healthy and will be Duquesne’s starting quarterback this year. Darius Perrantes filled in for Mischler in 2021, and performed pretty well, completing 59.6% of his passes for 1,620 yards and posting a 17-7 touchdown-interception ratio.

“Joe Mischler is going to start. He’s back, he’s healthy, Schmitt said. “We’re fortunate to have two guys with their talents and abilities, and both have in-game experience.”

Billy Lucas is the Dukes’ starting running back after an impressive freshman campaign, rushing for 703 yards rushing on 137 carries (5.1 average) and six touchdowns last year.

“Lucas will be the starter,” Schmitt said. “We have DeMarcus Ware, he was a grad transfer who came in. (DeMarcus) Townsend has been with us for a year, he was injured last year, and he has FBS experience. JaMario Clements is a young guy, who was with us last year and redshirted. Damon Macklin has been with us for a couple of years and has really been showing signs of stepping up, so we feel good about that position group.”

Billy Lucas (4) March 21, 2021 – Photo by David Hague/PSN

Schmitt also touched on the task of replacing offensive tackle Jake Dixon and wide receiver Cyrus Holder, who both signed contracts with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. Dixon went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers but was a part of the first cuts. Holder was waived by the Chicago Bears in May.

“It’s been a smooth transition,” Schmitt said. “We lost Dixon to graduation, and we lost Roman Macek our starting left guard who took a contract with the WWE, so we had to fill that left side. We have a couple of guys competing there, who are doing a really good job.

With Duquesne graduating four players at the wide receiver position, Schmitt is looking for Joey Isabella to step up.

“Joey Isabella is our top returner,” Schmitt said. “He was injured last year, so his stats don’t show what he did in the spring of 2021. He’s a talented player. You may know his brother (Andy Isabella), who plays for the Arizona Cardinals as a wide receiver.”

Mike Craig joined the Duquesne coaching staff as the defensive coordinator and Reggie Wells was named as the new defensive line coach. Craig was an assistant linebacker coach at Duquesne about a decade ago before going to Saint Francis (Pa) and California University of Pennsylvania. The Dukes’ will run an odd front that’s multiple under Craig. Wells, who is a South Park and Clarion graduate, played nine years in the NFL as an offensive lineman.

Schmitt is looking for the defensive to be aggressive and opportunistic.

“Defensively, we play a lot of people, we stay fresh,” Schmitt said. We play an aggressive style and focus on getting off the field and work to get takeaways.”

The Dukes return two-time All-NEC nose tackle Maxi Hradecny, along with defensive ends A.J. Ackerman and Kevin Kurzinger. Todd Hill, who was named second-team All-NEC last season, was moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker.

Free safety Jeremiah Josephs returns to the Dukes’ secondary after receiving second-team All-New honors last season. Cornerback Tim Lowery also returns after leading the team with six passes defended last year, along with one interception.

The Dukes’ Week 0 game against Florida State can be viewed on the ACC Network. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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