Today’s the day. The 2014 regular season finale and Senior Day for your JMU Dukes. We’ll both be in the ‘burg to catch the game live. For those of you who aren’t able to make it to Bridgeforth, you can find all the television info here or stream the game via Madizone. The Dukes are rolling and we’re rootin’ for another big win. If you’re in the ‘burg come find us in D2 or get in touch with us via Twitter or Facebook and we can try to meet up as we wander around the lower lots before heading into the game. Enjoy the day everyone. Consider this your official open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter. Keep rootin’.
Match-up: #17 JMU Dukes (8-3, 5-2 CAA) vs. Elon Pheonix (1-10, 0-7 CAA)
Location: Bridgeforth Stadium (aka the Purple Palace) in the lovely Shenandoah Valley
Kick-off: 12:00 on Saturday, November 22
Broadcast Options: Check your local listings for regional television broadcasts or stream it via Madizone. Really though, try to make it back to the ‘burg if you can. It’s Senior Day and both the 1994 Field Hockey and 2004 Football National Championship teams will be honored as part of Champions Weekend.
JMUSB Viewing/Tailgating Situation: We’re actually both going to be in the ‘burg for this one. It will be the first time the two of us have gotten together since Todd moved to North Carolina, so expect tears of joy (or maybe just lots of beer drinking). As of right now, our plan is to park the cars in D2 around 8:30 have some food and drinks and then wander around the lower lots closer an hour or so before kickoff. Please stop by or reach out to us via Twitter if you’d like to meet up.
How They Got Here
went on the road played in Bridgeforth East and crushed Richmond 55-20 last weekend. It was the streaking Dukes sixth straight win. Everett Withers has the Dukes red hot and playing their best football in years. As a result he was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award. Vad Lee, who was recently added to the Payton Award Watch List is playing great football. And the much maligned defense has been steadily improving, pitching second half shutouts the past two weeks. JMU appears to be peaking at just the right time.
As for the Pheonix, it’s pretty much the exact same thing. Except with lots of losses instead of wins. And instead of peaking, they’re struggling. So maybe the situations are slightly different. I’m not good with these sorts of comparisons.
Look at the New Guy
Elon is the new kid on the CAA block. Many of you don’t know much about the Elon sports program. And we know that you’ve come to rely on this very blog to inform you about JMU’s opponents. And we’re definitely not going to let you down. We’re nothing if not consistently respectful of JMU’s opposition. Plus we’re tireless researchers. So without further ado we present JMUSB’s Official List of All the Things That Make Elon an Outstanding Addition to the CAA:
1. It’s close enough to Todd’s house that he can drive to JMU’s away games there
Elon Can Win If
It forces JMU to make mistakes and takes advantage of them. With an offense that is only scoring 13 points a game, Elon hasn’t proven it can sustain long scoring drives. The Pheonix are going to have to force a few turnovers to create short fields to get some easy scores. Elon has struggled in its first season of CAA play. The school has improved tremendously in almost every way the past 10-15 years and there’s no reason to believe that won’t carry over to sports eventually. But they’ll need to catch a few breaks this weekend if they expect to get a win. We don’t think they’ll roll over, and upsets happen all the time, but Elon is going to have to elevate its game big time to emerge with a win on Saturday.
JMU Can Win If
It avoids a let down and focuses on the task at hand. JMU is rolling and on the verge of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Vad Lee and the Dukes can’t afford to look past Elon and get caught sleeping. The game plan should be pretty simple. Push the pace on offense and spread the ball around. Stay aggressive on defense. Elon has only averaged 2.8 yards per rush. If the Dukes secondary can shut down the passing game and force Elon to run, it will mean good things for JMU. This is a game the Dukes should win, but could lose if they play sloppy. So don’t do that Dukes.
What We’d Like to See
A full four quarters of solid play. Coach Withers and the Dukes deserve credit for showing improvement all season. The improvement has been noticeable even within single games. However nice the in-game adjustments have been, it would be great to see JMU not have to make as many and to execute effectively on both sides of the ball from the get go.
JMUSB Beer of the Week
It was brought to my attention by our pal Zac, that most of my suggestions seem to be super hoppy beers. Let’s switch it up this week and go with something a little more balanced.
Since it’s the final regular season home game, we’ll choose a beer from the Commonwealth. Devils Backbone Vienna Lager is our JMUSB Beer of the Week. It’s got a nice malt toastiness, with just enough hop bitterness to give it a bight. It’s a good beer that’s approachable for folks who might not go for more aggressively hopped beers. Plus, at 4.9% ABV it’s not going to put you to sleep before a noon kickoff. I really enjoy it and hope you will too.
Official JMUSB Prediction
The seniors go out with a big win in
their home finale one of their final home games (don’t get cheap with the playoff bid administration). JMU wins 41-17.
Here we are. It’s the final week of the regular season and JMU will face off against the CAA’s newest member, the Elon Pheonix. Thus far, Elon has been, shall we say, bad. Very bad. The Pheonix have only won 1 game and are averaging only 13 points a game. But this is not a team to be overlooked. I’m sure Elon would like nothing more than to close its season with a huge upset over one of the conferences heavy weights. But we want to know how you think the game will turn out. Leave a comment with your prediction of who will win and what the final score will be. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post.
Note: This is adapted from a similar post a couple years ago.
Dear JMU Students,
We’re not mad about low student attendance. And we’re not preaching that football is everything. Most weeks, we get it – the Dukes haven’t been good in a few years, none of you were in school for the last home playoff game, the wifi is non-existent in BFS and you can’t even get a tweet out and there’s free beer literally everywhere else in your corner of the ‘Burg. So we’re not gonna sell you on the importance of football on why you should stay late this weekend and come back early the next in the event of a home playoff game. We’re gonna sell you simply on the crappiness of being back home and the absolute beauty of having extra weekends at JMU – only the kind of rare weekends where you have no set plans and ZERO responsibilities. Face it, even the nerdiest among us isn’t actually doing work of Thanksgiving Break.
As for the football, just get your tickets and do it. The dorms are staying open and most of you don’t live there anyhow. And the truth is, as much as we love football, this isn’t even about football. It’s about sucking every ounce of marrow out of one of life’s juiciest bones – your time as an enrolled student at JMU. In fact, you should stay every break you get the chance. We’re not saying don’t show up at Mom’s for actual Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas break, but we are saying that Fall Break, Easter weekend, and any other random weekend you might be considering going “home” for some R&R or just to do your laundry and eat tons of food, is a bad idea and you’ll have more fun at your real and glorious new home now.
There are few things better in life, and certainly none better from ages 18-23, than a weekend in the ‘Burg that is 100% free of responsibility. No classes, no homework, not even any major parties to host, attend, or plan for. Just a weekend with your friends who have the shared spontaneity and passion for good times to seize a golden opportunity when it’s presented.
Oh, we hear your excuses and they are pure bullshit. What, you’ve been texting all semester with your high school friends and really just can’t wait to catch up with them about that reallly serious drama in their life. Trust us, they aren’t going anywhere. If they’re currently away at other schools, they’ll understand what your time at JMU means to you, though maybe not as much as a fellow Duke would because wherever they are just doesn’t compare (especially if they’re in Blacksburg or Charlottesville or Fairfax). If they are currently at NOVA, Tidewater, or John Tyler, no need to worry, they’ll still be in your hometown whenever you get there.
But your parents are just really expecting you and looking forward to seeing you and they won’t understand. Grow up. Tell them to grow up too. Neither you nor your parents may realize it, and you may not say it to each other over the phone, but the truth is you’ve both probably adjusted to life without each other more than you know. You really want to go home and drag this break out to 10 or 11 or 12 days with the nagging and the it’s-not-a-curfew-but-we’ll-guilt-you-about-it-anyhow. What will you really be doing that’s so wonderful. Fattening up eating from a full pantry, stressing over exams but not actually studying, and spending half the day Snapchatting with what will suddenly occur to you are your closer, and cooler, JMU friends.
But I’m from out of state or somewhere like Northumberland County and it’s tough to find a ride. Just shut up. Somehow we got by with nothing but a Ride-Board in Taylor Down Under. You all are way more savvy than we ever were about networking, or so I’m told, so pm someone or put it on FB to put you in touch with someone who’s from somewhere near where you are and isn’t heading home till Sunday and figure it out.
As for all that great stuff you’ll do back in your hometown. If you’re an underclassman without access to a lenient bar or a great id, you’ll go to lame house parties at some kid from the class behind you’s house with your high school crew where it will start to sink in you’re now the old guys and you have about 5x more chance of getting busted than you would in Harrisonburg at a party that you’ll realize the minute you walk in the door isn’t worth half the risk you’d be willing take with the door guy at Jack Brown’s.
If you’re an upperclassman, and of age, you’ll go to some stupid suburban bar where the dumbass kids you went to high school with are now working and they’ll mock the JMU game despite the fact it’s on tv and they are missing the point that taking two classes at New River doesn’t give you a license to be a diehard Tech fan.
Seriously, just do it. If you’re really lucky, you might even get mom or dad to chip in an extra $100 if you’re really running low on Dining Dollars and then you can blow it on booze and JimmyJohn’s and Molly and things like that us old guys don’t even know about. Even if you don’t really care about football, use the free Friday and Saturday morning to go hiking somewhere amazing and then enjoy some cocktailing at whatever kind of tailgate you prefer. Even if the weather looks cold, the feeling of warmth from the time you spend with good friends during a night in Bridgeforth without any hint of the real world creeping in to spoil the fun is something that will stick with you decades longer than whatever the hell else you’d be doing back “home” that weekend.
Two Middle Aged Alums Who Can’t Recall a Single Thing from Getting Home Early for a Break but Who Feel Fortunate to Have Lifelong Friends and Memories Bolstered by Responsibility-Free Weekends in Harrisonburg
You can thank us later for this early holiday treat.
Well now wasn’t that just about a perfect afternoon? Ok, maybe that end of the second quarter was like a tracker-jacker hallucination, but JMU beat the Ticks by FIVE touchdowns in a must-win situation for both teams. FIVE. Anyone still not feeling this squad?!
Yes, you can now officially begin using the P word at your convenience. Yes, the Dukes can’t afford another bad loss next week, but is there a team in the CAA you’d rather be playing, at home, to get a ninth win than Elon? We’re planning a huge tailgate next week and more to come about Celebration Saturday and playoff implications and expectations later this week. But for now, let’s enjoy reviewing yesterday’s pure ownership of the Ticks.
Taylor ‘effin Reynolds! – There is no way to overstate Reynold’s impact on this game. Basically, as a DB, he single-handedly accounted for 28 points. That’s Deion-esque. He scored two TD’s on pick-sixes and prevented not one, but two TD’s with incredibly smart hustle plays when he twice punched the ball out from moronic Spider ball-carriers. The first was great, but the second punchout was THE play of the season. As many of you felt (more to come later on this of course), the combination of the Ticks and the referees had completely stolen JMU’s momentum on either side of halftime and with the Ticks cruising in for a TD that would have pulled them within three points, Reynolds miraculously punched the ball out right before the goal line through the back of the end zone for a touchback. Put simply, from that moment on the Dukes were playoff bound! It’s just wonderful to see a kid that’s really had a rough road after being such a highly touted recruit tap his considerable talent and potential at the moment it was most needed. Way to go Taylor!
Second-Half Shutouts -Two weeks in a row the Dukes have struggled to keep an opponent off the board in the first half. And now two weeks in a row they have flat-out slammed the door shut in the second half. This team can go a looooong way if they can limit an opponent’s scoring to one half because this team will keep scoring in all quarters!
The O-Line – Despite the final score Richmond did one of the better jobs all year of keeping Vad Lee contained to the pocket. But thanks to the O-Line, he was given time to throw for a school-record 433 yards. He had time to let plays develop which led to huge gainers for Dukes receivers. It’s just wonderful to see the line coming together this way as line play has always been the main hallmark of JMU’s best seasons and is really the difference between good and great.
Backup Tight Ends – When Deane Cheatum went down last week, we were nervous given that he’s been a huge contributor and the team leader in catches. But development appears to be a strength of this staff and team, and Jonathan Kloosterman and Brandon Brown who chipped in with five important grabs and didn’t let the offensive juggernaut miss a beat.
This Machine – Vad Lee is breaking all kinds of records you can read about here, but we don’t want to focus on him this week because this winning streak is an all-around team effort. Clutch kicking from Maglio, less mistakes in all three phases, improved play on both lines, great play-calling and adjustments from the staff, and seemingly an inexhaustible ability to keep progressing as a team each week. This team has become a machine, capable of scoring points by the truckload and equally capable of settling in and shutting people down when necessary. It’s been exhilarating to watch and we’re starting to pick up a real us-against-the-world-we-don’t-care-what-is-thrown-at-us vibe from this group. Actually feels more ’04ish than ’08ish. We can’t even tell you how impressive it was to recover from that end to the first half and come back even stronger in the second half. That was a level of mental toughness from the staff and players that was, needless to say, considerably greater than our own ability to not lose our cool.
NBCSN – As a fan, it really is fantastic when we get the high-quality production of the national game on NBCSN after weeks of Stretch Internet’s bullshit on JMU’s side and last week’s elementary school level production from Stony Brook. That said, NBCSN signed up for a CAA that doesn’t exist anymore and it’ll be a miracle if they extend the deal with a conference that looks more small-time with each passing year thanks to insane officiating (more on that below) and a slew of high-school style stadiums and less-than-high-school crowds.
Purple Helmets – Those things are just perfect.
Really, there’s almost nothing bad about not only beating up the Ticks, but doing so in a way that was absolutely soul-crushing. Just a beautiful thing. Oh yeah, I guess one bad thing was the giant red condom look RU’s Coach Rocco had going yesterday.
There is no possible way for us to even write about the back-to-back targeting penalties called on the Dukes at the end of the half yesterday without risking cardiac arrest. We do sort of apologize for losing our damned minds on Twitter and feeding every conspiracy-theory beast that the most crazed of our own fans were pondering at the time. The truth is the first flag on Peak was probably warranted, and at least understandable as there seemed to be clear helmet-to-helmet contact even if Peak didn’t seem to have any intent or even necessarily be aware of exactly where he was in relation to the receiver before the hit. But the second one, oh the second one. On Marlowe, which amounted to his third ejection of the season for a horsesh*t call. We can’t even possibly deal with this properly, but just know that the Targeting rule is ruining the game. When an offensive player has the ball and turns to charge forward with his head down, what in the world is a defender supposed to do? Stop himself in mid-air? It’s just ridiculous. And the fact there was replay yesterday and it wasn’t overturned is just further evidence of the amateur-hour status of CAA officiating and the conference as a whole. And the craziest part is we wouldn’t be surprised if ole Tommy Yeags turns around and suspends Marlowe beyond the half he’s already sat out by the rule for “multiple infractions.” Well fine then. Just like the team did yesterday, they’ll just say screw it and proceed to throw another half-a-hundred on another opponent!
Finally, just feels worth mentioning, we’ll both be in The ‘Burg for next week’s game and you’re all welcome to come tailgate with us! Purple Kool-Aid all around!
Big game today folks. Big, big game. The Dukes face their old pals the Ticks. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Check your local listings or tune into the free stream here. The Dukes are riding a 5 game winning streak. RU is coming off a disappointing loss to Maine. A win would do a lot for both teams’ playoff chances. And then there’s that whole in-state rivalry thing. Like we said, it’s a big game. Consider this your open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter. Go Dukes! Beat Richmond!
JMU hoops got its season started last night in front of a raucous sold out crowd at the Convo. The Dukes, who were without the services of suspended players Andre Nation and Tom Vodanovich, lost to the UVA Cavaliers by the scored of 79-51. To be fair, UVA was shorthanded as well after Evan Nolte and London Perrantes were suspended. In the end though, UVA was simply too much for JMU.
When this home and home series was announced, a lot of JMU fans (myself included) pointed to this home leg as a chance for the Dukes to really compete. UVA is well coached and talented team. But at the time of the announcement JMU was coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance and had a solid core of freshmen on which to build. It was easy to picture a team led by Andre Nation and Charles Cooke rising to the occasion to beat UVA in the Convo. It wasn’t meant to be apparently.
UVA’s calling card under coach Tony Bennett has been team defense and the Cavs held JMU to 28% shooting on the night. In the first half, JMU managed to put up some points though. Unfortunately, the Dukes couldn’t stop UVA so it still wasn’t close. The Cavs shot 58% from the field. Whether it was a case of UVA being a vastly improved shooting team or JMU’s young lineup struggling to gel defensively, is up for debate. It was probably a bit of both. UVA’s bigs were virtually unchallenged down low for stretches and the entire Cavs team seemed to get follow-up after follow-up off the offensive glass. The Cavs raced out to an early lead and cruised for a wire to wire victory.
Looking for Positives
Hari Hall scored 15 points in the first half. He was held scoreless after the break, but he’s an aggressive and athletic player who should develop nicely. Yohanny Dalembert is still pretty raw, but in the second half it was evident he put in a lot of work on his post game. Jackson Kent added some muscle to his frame and dropped in 14 points. And freshman Joey McLean looks capable at the point.
Aside from Kent and Hall, the entire team struggled shooting the ball. Poor shooting plagued the Dukes last year and it simply has to improve if JMU wants to be competitive in the CAA. There is some talent and potential on the roster, but it’s going to be a work in progress for at least a few weeks while Coach Brady tries to find the lineup. Nation’s return will help and we’d like to think Ron Curry and Winston Grays shooting a combined 1 for 13 was an anomaly. Let’s chalk it up to first game jitters and stay positive. It’s only one game.
Congrats JMU Nation! At long last, we’ve made it back to a big one! Not a flash-in-the-pan tourney win in a watered down year or a struggling for mediocrity and sneaking into a road playoff game at the end, but rather a building-through-the-season, slowly piling dormant fans back onto the bandwagon, grassroots big game. In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, this game more closely remembers the last great game of the Mickster’s heyday in this same city against this same crappy, carpetbagger-filled, “university.” Kick it to Scotty!
Match-up: JMU Dukes (7-3, 4-2 CAA) vs. Poormond Ticks (7-3, 4-2 CAA)
The Line (for recreational purposes only): Richmond -4.5 (opened at Richmond -7, just thought you should know)
Location: Robins High School Stadium, West End, Richmond, Virginia
Kick-off: 12:30 on Saturday, November 15
Broadcast Options: NBC Sports Network (National Game), NO excuses for not watching this one if you can’t be there.
How They Got Here
Poormond went on the road and laid an egg at Maine, losing 33-20. They were so full of themselves and sitting pretty after upsetting Villanova, it must be very humbling that so quickly they’re now 60 short minutes of purple hell away from begging they can hang onto the bubble.
JMU of course comes into this game riding a five game win streak. You know this, or at least you should. Last week Vad Lee and the offense did what Vad Lee and offense do. On the other side, the Defensive bus was 30 minutes late to Long Island, but managed to find their way to the field around halftime and shut out the Seawolves in the second, thus giving Vad and co. the chance to come back and take down another road victory.
What’s at Stake?
From a playoff standpoint, we’re not exactly sure what a loss means for either team. The Ticks still have William & Mary and they’ve already banked that ‘Nova win, but a loss here would only motivate the Tribe even more in the finale. For JMU, they’ll be seriously sweating out the final week while hopefully dismantling Elon if they can’t pull this out. But a win…oh, a win…a win will go a looooong way towards locking the Dukes into the field.
The Spatters (“RVA” Fake Accent) Will Win If
They manage to control the pace and force JMU to play from behind. Richmond’s whiny-assed little girlyman coach (by way of Liberty of course) doesn’t want JMU’s offense running 80+ plays and has said as much this week. He’s also said he plans to have the officials come to his office to explain to them that they control the pace, not JMU’s offense, which is just bush league and has already been whining about holding. We’re really not sure when Rocco began channeling his inner K.C. Keeler, but screw them all.
The Dukes Will Win If
They keep Richmond guessing, spread the ball around, and keep it up tempo. Maybe more importantly, they need to play from ahead in this one. Richmond might be the second best defensive team we’ve seen in the CAA after Stony Brook, but needless to say, their offense is a whole lot more capable than the Seawolves were and the Dukes need to play this one from ahead ala Charlotte to feel good about this one. If Vad Lee is doing Vad Lee things, the running backs are finding holes, and multiple receivers are catching passes, it’s a lot for a defense to worry about. If JMU does those things Saturday, it should be able to break through and score. And if Sage Harold continues to go beast mode and the D plays like it did for must of last week’s game, they’ll keep points off the board. Especially if injured UR QB Strauss actually returns to the lineup like Coach Rocco says he will and ends up standing back there like a statue and getting rocked by Harold, Lee, Robinson, and company! Like most JMU/UR games, and like almost all top-level CAA games, this one is likely to be very tight and it goes without saying a big turnover or a special teams play. On that note, just two words. On second thought, make it three words: Jimmy ‘effin Moreland!
JMUSB Beer of the Week
Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. It’s a month that end in R and just about the start of the real Oyster season, so this solid stout made with Rappahannock River oysters is just about perfect for a little morning oyster roast. Flying Dog is not our all-time favorite on the whole, but this is a really fun beer this time of year and we’re huge fans of their little partnership with CAO cigars that’s offering a tasting pair with beer and cigars. Look for the pack and thank us later.
JMU 38 – Poormond 31. If that score rings a bell from more hallowed years of this rivalry, it should. The McGee is strong in Moreland and In Vad We Trust!
The Purple Wave has made a special one-night-only appearance for the big Tick-squashing.
Old funny Richmond “Spatters” guy Sachmo is back! Love this guy.
Lastly, an early gift to the week thanks to the Hampton Pirates knocking off Bethune-Cookman and reducing the MEAC’s playoff possibles from 2/3 to 1/2, though we all know it should be a one-bid league!
Zac is particularly fired up for Richmond week and agreed to add to the excitement with a guest post. Enjoy!
I’m not holding back. After a week of GETTING HYPE for this game, I’m ready to let them have it. This isn’t going to be a feel good post like my W&M Top 10. This is the real f***ing deal and nothing but pure old fashioned hate. Without further ado, my top 10 reasons I f***king hate RU.