2nd quarter will be a factor
As we’ve mentioned previously, the Flames have struggled in the 2nd quarter this season, being outscored 102-64. The 102 points allowed during the 2nd period are significantly higher than their average of 53.3 points allowed average in the other 3 quarters. Meanwhile, Duquesne has been very good in 2nd quarters themselves, scoring 138 points so far this season in the 2nd stanza. This is significantly higher than their average of 45.3 points scored average in the other 3 quarters. The 2nd quarter Saturday could very well decide the outcome of the game.
“We’ve got to come out ready to play and play consistently,” Coach Gill said. “That big 2nd quarter, I know we’ve struggled a little bit in that area, and they’ve been very, very explosive in that so we’re going to talk about that in a huge way.”
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
Turnovers are always a factor in games, and the Flames have been much better in the past two weeks in creating and capitalizing off its opponents turnovers. That test will be markedly more difficult this week as Duquesne is one of the top teams in all of FCS football in turnover margin. The Dukes rank 12th in the country with a turnover margin of +10 as they have forced 17 turnovers while only surrendering 7. Liberty has a turnover margin this season of -1, having forced 11 turnovers and committing 12.
Duquesne has a very efficient, yet explosive offense led by 3 very talented playmakers. Quarterback Tommy Stuart, a graduate transfer from Boise State, ranks 4th in the country in passing efficiency and 4th in passing touchdowns. He’s thrown for 1,775 yards in 8 games this season. Running back A.J. Hines was the Jerry Rice Award Winner a season ago, given annually to the country’s top freshman in FCS football. Nehari Crawford is leading the country in receiving touchdowns with 11 to go along with his 761 receiving yards. The Dukes are averaging 33.6 points per game, and they are very balanced on offense with the 32nd best rushing offense and 38th best passing offense in FCS. Duquesne has scored 37 or more points in 5 of their past 7 ball games.
“They are very balanced on offense,” Gill said of the Dukes. “They can beat you running the football, they can beat you throwing the football. I’m very impressed with their offense. They have an outstanding receiver, tremendous player. 11 touchdowns, you see that stat, 8 games and you have 11 touchdowns, that speaks for itself. He is a dynamic player. They get the ball to him in all different ways, he puts points on the board for them. Tommy Stuart, their quarterback, 22 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. He’s very efficient, he runs when he needs to run, he keeps the chains moving. He knows what to do with the ball, when to do it, and how to do it.”
Turner Gill on Duquesne – “Their record speaks for itself, 7-1, they have a good football team. 4 out of the last 6 years they have been the NEC champion.”
Robert Wimberly on the team ending the losing streak – “They were all very excited after the game, kind of made me emotional. When you’re dealing with young men, you’re trying to train them for life, not just football. So, to see how hard they worked last week, and to see how they were able to enjoy the hard work, it got me emotional. Some of the same guys came to me and said, ‘Coach, I told you we were going to get it for you, and we want to keep going.’ That’s what a win can do, it can bring back a lot of life, a lot of enjoyment, the young men are willing to continue to work. As I stated before, I’ve been on the unfortunate part of some times when you had multiple losses in a row, we had it in 2012. I’ve never seen a group of young men stay together like I’ve seen this group of young men stay together. To just keep encouraging us as coaches, ‘Don’t stop what you’re doing coach, demand the standard, demand the standard.’ For me, as a coach, that’s always rewarding because you’re trying to train them for life. As I told them, 5 years from now, you’re going to remember this road that you traveled here at Liberty, and its going to make you a better husband, father, and a person in the real world. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”
Joe Dailey on Duquesne’s defense – “They have a number of guys that are FBS transfers. These guys are well trained, these guys are very good athletes, they know how to turn and accelerate. They know exactly who they are, what they are going to do, and what they need to do to beat an opponent on any given week.”
Duquesne 37, Liberty 27