Duquesne Faces Difficult 2018 Schedule

Two FBS opponents headline a challenging schedule for the Dukes

Shelby Cassesse
August 29, 2018 - 2:07 pm
Jerry Schmitt

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Coming into this season, Duquesne hadn't played an FBS team since a 38-28 loss to the University of Buffalo in 2014. This year, there are two FBS opponents on the schedule, including Massachusetts and Hawaii.

"We play at a speed and a level that's higher then probably we'll see the rest of the year," said Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt of scheduling FBS opponents. "We have two opportunities to play at a high level. Our kids get to play against that type of competition and it helps develop our program and our kids throughout the season."

The Dukes were one of a handful of teams to kick off the 2018 college football season on Saturday, August 25. They started their season with a 63-15 loss to Massachusetts, checking off their first FBS game of the season.

Schmitt says there is still a lot to take away from the blowout. 

"The first game always provides us an opportunity to learn about mainly new guys that are playing for the first time. When the lights go on we see how they react with the good things they did and then some of the bad things they did, we see how they react. That helps us now move forward."

The Dukes entered the year with a quarterback battle between juniors Brett Brumbaugh, a South Fayette graduate, and Daniel Parr. Parr ultimately won the starting job against UMass and will keep that job for the time being, according to Schmitt.

"We knew he was mobile and he could run some, but we found a competitiveness in him that we weren't able to see necessarily in practice, so that was a good thing."

Parr completed 16 of 29 passes for 123 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions against UMass. He's in his first season as a Duke after transferring from Florida Atlantic University.

The Dukes will have three more games to bounce back from their first loss before their next FBS opponent in Hawaii on September 22 in Honolulu. The Warriors are coming off of a 3-9 season. 

Schmitt admits that's the game most of his players have circled on their calendars. 

"There's no doubt it's exciting. It's potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, but I think if you asked every one of them, especially the veterans, that we play it one game at a time. Although it's hard, we're going to focus on this week."

Duquesne will host Lock Haven in its first home game of the season Saturday. Then they'll welcome Valparaiso and Dayton before taking off for Hawaii.

This year's influx of FBS opponents for Duquesne seems to be a trend that may continue into future seasons. Most notably, West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons confirmed the Mountaineers will host Duquesne in 2023. The Dukes will travel to Morgantown for the second week of the season, following Penn State's trip to Milan Puskar Stadium the week prior and preceding a major rivalry game between WVU and Pitt the week after. 

"It generates some excitement for our fans and a number of people here in Western Pennsylvania or West Virginia fans," Schmitt said of the matchup. I think it will be great for everybody and great for our kids to be able to go play a program like that with such a tradition and how good of a program they are."

Though the Dukes started their season with a loss, Schmitt says an NEC title is always the goal, especially with the return of half of last year's starters on both sides of the ball. Winning the NEC is a feat the Dukes have conquered four out of the last seven years. 

"Those veterans have been around for a couple years. A number of them have rings and that's the expectation set and they'll bring the young guys along in that mode." 

The Dukes shared the conference title with Saint Francis University in 2016 and won it outright in 2015, but lost three straight games at the end of last season after a 7-1 start to prevent a third straight title. They begin conference play on October 6 when Bryant comes to Rooney Field.