By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke
There is nothing quite like a 47-7 beatdown to kick off a new football season.
Even though the Dukes took on Kentucky Christian – an NAIA school – the team’s explosive running game that was on display Saturday could very well carry them through the rest of the season.
The four-headed monster of Rafiq Douglas, Klartel Claridy, Zach DeNardo and P.J. Fulmore combined for 373 yards rushing and four touchdowns. All four rushers averaged at least six yards-per-carry.
If the ground game can sustain anywhere close to this type of performance throughout the season, the Dukes are going to be difficult for any defense to stop with the combination of their depth and explosiveness.
Junior quarterback Dillon Buechel displayed praiseworthy accuracy on both his short and deep throws throughout the first half. On the receiving end of things, wideouts Wayne Capers, Dominique Terrell and Reggie McKnight showed that they are poised to step up when 2015 Preseason All-American Chris King is limited on offense.
As for the defense, it was also a very impressive showing. Aside from a quick slant pass from KCU’s second-string offense that went for a 56-yard touchdown, the Dukes kept the Knights off the scoreboard. The front seven did a stellar job of getting good pressure and plugging up the holes.
Defensive backs Trenton Coles and Josh Jordan, as well as junior linebacker Christian Kuntz, contributed to this shutdown defense. Coles and Jordan made it difficult for KCU to get much going in the passing game.
Buechel showed that he has recovered from last season’s injury and is ready to lead an offense spoiled with receiving and rushing talent.
Looking forward, King is expected to carry a much heavier load for the offense and same goes for senior defensive tackle Zach Zidian and senior linebacker Sam Martello on the defensive side, who were both picked as Pre-Season All-Conference performers. These guys are all leaders on this team and will play a huge role in success.
Next week’s matchup against Bucknell will be a tougher test for the Dukes, and will be an opportunity to see if Duquesne can sustain the same level of play.