Season opener: Aug. 31 vs. Albany, 12:10 p.m., Rooney Field.
Last season: 5-6, 3-5 Northeast Conference. Started 4-1 (2-0) but dropped five of its final six.
Preseason poll: Picked second in the NEC, earning three first-place votes of a possible seven.
Player to watch: OLB Dorian Bell, a preseason candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in Division I-AA.
Biggest losses: All-time leading rusher Larry McCoy and three-year starting QB Sean Patterson.
Outlook: The Dukes are looking to get back to their winning ways of 2011, when they earned a share of the NEC title. They were off to a good start in 2012 before a poor second half derailed their title hopes, but they are taking solace in the fact that all five conference losses were within a touchdown. The deciding factor for Duquesne this year may be how well it is able to replace losses to graduation. Only one quarterback on the roster, senior Marty Mitchell, has attempted a pass, but redshirt freshman Dillon Buechel (Montour) was named the starter against Albany. Junior Ryan Ho and senior Jason Douglas take over the running game from McCoy, and three starting linebackers graduated as well. Chris Johnson, a transfer from Florida, is slated to start at strong safety. Chavas Rawlins, who graduated high school early to attend spring practice with West Virginia but then decided to leave the school, recently joined the Dukes as a wide receiver.duquesnesports