3 Matchups to Watch: Duquesne
(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)
Lets be honest... on paper the Jackrabbits have an advantage at every single position and in every single statistic. The Dukes are probably sick of hearing/reading that they have zero chance. This equals a dangerous team, they have no external pressure. Last week they upset Towson going toe to toe with a CAA power and down the stretch, out-physicalled the Tigers. Yes, the weather may have been a factor but it is not going to be great weather in Brookings on Saturday either. It will be windy and there will likely be some snow and ice before and during the game. The Jacks will want to jump out to an early lead and make Duquesne chase points, something their offense is not built to do.
3 Matchups to Watch
1. Christian Rozeboom vs. A.J. Hines
These two will forever be linked because they finished 1st and 2nd in the 2016 Jerry Rice Award voting, the National FCS award given to the Freshman of the Year. Rozeboom got the next "win" in 2017 as the Jacks held Hines to just 34 total yards on 13 carries. However, Hines is better in 2018 and is playing behind a more physical offensive line. The good news for the Jacks? The Jackrabbit defensive line is way better than the 2017 version and that Rozeboom guy has only gotten better with age. I think the Jacks, and Rozeboom, shut down Hines again. I think keeping him under 75 yards would be a "win."
2. Jordan Brown vs. Nehari Crawford
I'm interested to see how the Jacks handle Crawford. He has been excellent the past two years and can play in the slot and on either side of the formation. With the Dukes favoring the run we may see more zone concepts on defense or the coaches may just lock Brown up 1-on-1 with Crawford. Brown has also been excellent the past two years and recently accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Game, a showcase of standout seniors. We'll see how the Dukes adjust to the 20 to 30 mph wind that is in the forecast for Saturday. If the Jacks get out to an early lead the Dukes will have to attempt to throw the ball. Jordan having an interception or a pick six would add a very memorable moment to his outstanding career.
3. #605Hogs vs. DU Front 7
I think this may be the area where Duquesne has improved the most from 2017 to 2018. Last year they had a group of defensive linemen who played with a lot of heart and drive but not much size or athleticism. That seems to have changed in 2018 where they show good size across a variety of fronts and seem to have some depth they can trot out on the field. There linebackers aren't quite as fearsome as the group that started in 2017 but they still are a quality group. Fortunately, the #605Hogs have enjoyed an excellent 2018. I'm excited to see the Jackrabbit interior mash on Kam Carter (Last Chance U), one of the least likeable players to be on the show. The Dukes manufacture pressure on the quarterback with a variety of blitzes from all over the field. Again, if the Jacks get out to an early lead and can then run the ball, I expect the #605Hogs to wear down the Dukes defensive line and really wrack up the yardage.
I'm hedging a bit on my prediction from earlier in the week. I'm afraid the wind may make it difficult to get into the 50's. Jacks still win but it will be 41-10 or something like that.