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Duquesne Football Faces Stiff Test To Open Season On Thursday

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Duquesne football program is wasting no time in challenging themselves this season. On Thursday, the Dukes will hit the road to take on the No. 4 ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits at 8 p.m. EST.

Head coach Jerry Schmitt joined "The Fan Morning Show" on Monday to talk about this highly anticipated matchup and the travel that will be involved.

"It's new for us to go up to that part of the country, but a couple years we opened against Old Dominion, they put 25-30,000 people in their seats and two years ago, we went up and playing Buffalo and actually were leading that game in the 4th quarter at one point in time," said Schmitt. "So, we've managed to play bigger schools and bigger programs and now we're faced off against a team that's ranked in the top 5 in the country."

"The hard thing is when you play a night game you have to, during the day on Thursday, do some meetings and get the kids in study hall, get their minds off the game and then go up there and play the game and from what I understand, they pack it with 20-25,000 people every game."

Schmitt talked about his seniors and his leaders for this season that he will lean on throughout the year.

"Ben Huss is a local guy, Upper St. Clair, has started every game since he's been here, really talented young man," said Schmitt. "Our defense is strong, led by Nate Stone. I remember we opened the season against Buffalo four years ago and I was worried about him as a true freshman starting that game. First play of the game they ran an isolation play and he smacked the fullback and tailback right in the hole. From that point on, I didn't worry about him. He's been a great leader for us. [Alex] Struttmann is a great defensive lineman for us and those guys will lead our team. We really have a veteran crew, nine guys return as starters on defense."

He also spoke about whether Saint Francis will soon become a big rival to Duquesne like Robert Morris has become.

"I think all three schools are doing a great job in our conference," said Schmitt. "It's great to develop the excitement here and when we recruit here, it's arguably the best sports town in the country. You have the Steelers and you have Pitt and then you have these schools in the FCS locally here so it's turning into some great rivalries here and we're looking forward to that conference play.

Duquesne's match-up with No. 4 South Dakota State will be televised on AT&T Sportsnet live at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug 31.

You can hear the entire interview with Jerry Schmitt on "The Fan Morning Show" above.

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