Nov 21 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Breaking Down the Bracket With Brian McLaughlin

The FCS Bracket was releases, so we were fortunate to have Brian McGlaughlin from Hero Sports on the pod to break it all down. In our opinion, Brian is the top FCS journalist in the country and it was a real treat to have him join us. We also chatted about JMU’s CAA Championship clinching win over Elon, our expectations for the playoffs, and then we wrap things up by discussing a few musical guilty pleasures.

Thanks again to our podcast sponsor Pale Fire Brewing. Drop in for a beer next time you’re in the ‘burg.

Subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Bumpers or iTunes.

Nov 19 / Rob

The Good, Gooder, & Goodest from JMU over Elon

The JMU Dukes took care of business on Saturday and beat the Elon Phoenix 31-3 in their house. The win clinched the outright CAA title for the Dukes and in all likelihood, the #1 seed in the FCS playoffs. It was pretty great. Pretty, pretty great. Bryan Schor led the way on offense with 290 total yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. And, stop me if you heard this before, the defense was dominant. It wasn’t perfect (because it’s football) but we’re not going to dwell on the negative. Instead of a “Good, Bad, and Ugly” recap, we thought we’d go with a slightly more positive approach. Here’s the Good, Gooder, and Goodest from the big CAA Championship clinching win.

Good

Running Game – The Dukes ran for 190 yards and an average of 5.4 yards a carry. It was another running back by committee sort of game, but Trai Sharp stood out. He managed 68 yards on only 11 carries. Overall though, the entire unit was very effective. The o-line opened up holes and all the ball carriers showed good patience.

Terrance Alls – He led the team with 73 yards receiving. More importantly, he seemed to serve as a bit of a safety valve for Schor, grabbing several tough catches when the Dukes needed to move the chains. All the receivers played great (although Ish might take some hits in the film room for that uncharacteristic drop), but Alls and John Miller were standouts.

Bryan Schor – In a weird way, he’s so efficient that’s it almost underwhelms fans. We’re spoiled. Yesterday he completed 22 of 29 passes for 214 yards. And that was in seriously windy conditions. He also scampered for 76 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. Ho hum.

Gooder

Special Teams – Blocked punts make us smile. Blocked punts that are recovered for touchdowns make us jump out of our seats. D’Angelo Amos had us on our feet yesterday with the terrific block and recovery for six. And Harry O’Kelly kept pinning Elon back deep in its own territory all day.

Offensive Line – That was the best game the offensive line has played in months. Bryan Schor had so much time to throw he could have taken a nap on some plays. And the running backs had holes all day. We were pretty determined to live in the moment and enjoy the game for what it was. However, it was hard not to get at least a little bit excited thinking about what the line can do in the playoffs if it continues to improve.

Goodest

23 Straight – The win extended JMU’s 23 game winning streak. Think about that. Are we as fans kind of sleeping on it? JMU just continues to win, week in and week out. The Dukes take the best that every opponent has, and just keep winning. Every fan knows how many games it is, but are we really grasping how damn amazing this streak is? To not have a single off game or game changing bad break in over a year is unreal.

11-0 – So the entire construct of this is not only grammatically incorrect, it’s also illogical. Because there is so much to be excited about that we can’t declare a single thing the goodest. The Dukes just went undefeated in the regular season. It’s their second year in a row going undefeated in CAA play. That shouldn’t happen. But it just did.

Defense – No matter what happens from here on out, when we look back at this season we’re going to think about the defense. We’ll say it. There’s never been a better defense in JMU history. I got a text from a buddy after the game yesterday saying “We’re so spoiled that the first thing I thought of after a 31-3 win was that I was pissed we didn’t get the shutout.” It’s that kind of year with that kind of defense. They were absolutely spectacular against Elon, just like they’ve been all season.

Nov 18 / Rob

CAA Championship Gameday: Dukes vs. Phoenix, Phoenixes, Phonecians

Alright Dukes fans. Admit it, we all thought this was a lay up when the schedule came out. Nothing more than a tune up before the playoffs. Funny how things change. Now the Dukes face an Elon team that can capture a share of a the CAA title with a win. But that’s not gonna happen, right? A win for the good guys would mean an undefeated CAA regular season and another CAA championship. Nothing more to say. It’s time to Lock the Damn Gates!

Go Dukes!

Keep Rootin!

Nov 16 / Todd

JMUSB Game Preview #11: JMU @ Elon

The Basics

#1 James Madison Dukes (10-0, 7-0 CAA) at #15 Elon Phoenix (8-2, 6-1 CAA), Noon Saturday, Rhodes Stadium, Elon, NC

Coverage: MadiZone though it’ll be Elon’s announcers. Still likely a way better product than that College Sports Live junk we saw a few weeks ago.

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, High 63, Low 41 (for the early tailgating crowd), winds 10-20 mph. Good news is the rain forecasted earlier in the week seems likely to hold off till overnight and this should be a fairly standard fall day in the Piedmont.

Tailgating and PreGame: The Triangle Duke Club is hosting an official pregame event at 10:00 a.m. at The Fat Frogg, which I can tell you from knowing the area is actually a pretty cool spot for an event like this. By Burlington/Elon standards, Fat Frogg’s is one of the rowdier live music venues at night but has tons of arcade-type games and really is pretty solid for families early on a Saturday morning. If you’re looking for an earlier arrival and to be a bit closer to the stadium, Elon is very tailgate-friendly, particularly by the staid standards of most CAA schools. Like JMU, the lots closest to the stadium are for season ticket holders, but the cool thing about Elon is there is really only one main cash ($10) tailgating lot (McMichael) so it won’t be hard to find the other Dukes fans. The lot is sort of divided into two sections, but distance-to-the-stadium-wise think of it as coming from the baseball or Hillside lots at JMU. In other words, an easy walk through campus. Hope to see lots of Dukes out there Saturday morning!

What’s at Stake?

The CAA title – Technically JMU would likely finish in a three-way tie with Stony Brook and Elon with a loss AND still claim the automatic bid in the playoffs (if SB wins too over Maine), but Elon could win a share and obviously JMU wants to win this the sporting way. This would also be the first time in school history the Dukes would have won three CAA titles in a row (though they shared the title in 2015).

The #1 Overall Seed in the FCS – Can’t stress enough how huge this is now that the Dukes are so close to achieving this goal. This would mean the Dukes get to host games at Bridgeforth all the way to Frisco. A) That’s awesome, B) that means we’re likely to get at least one of those huge out-of-conference matchups we all clamor for, and c) the Dukes get to choose their uni combos all the way through. Holiday parties, office gatherings, and family be damned, clear the first three weekends in December for

JMU’s second unbeaten season ever – Only a 9-0-1 season way way back in 1975 can even rival this year’s run. The Dukes would also become the first current CAA member to have three 8-0 CAA seasons and join some ancient UMass squad as the only teams to run the table two years in a row in the CAA. A win here would also keep alive the possibility of joining only five other FCS teams that ever one the national championship in an undefeated season.

Individual Records – IF, IF JMU can make a deep run in the playoffs there may be a handful of individual records still to fall this season, particularly by Bryan Schor, but the only one realistically in reach this weekend is Safety Raven Greene, who is one behind a three-way tie for the JMU mark for career interceptions.

Historic Defensive Numbers – JMU’s Defense leads the nation in just about every important defensive category, but when Alabama gave up 24 in a scare against Miss. St. last weekend, the Dukes became the only team at the D1 level still holding opponents under 10 points per game at 9.6. Needless to say, if they can do it again this weekend, that’s a season for the ages.

How Elon Can Win?

Let the hatemail flow but this is and always will be Elon!

Run the ball and control the clock on offense, limit their own mistakes, and stop the run/pressure Schor with their stout front seven on D. Elon runs the ball and stops the run well. They’ve played basically even with opponents in all statistical categories but their ability to control tempo and dictate the game has served them well all year. The front seven on defense is big and solid and this will be a real marker for the Dukes to determine whether that exquisite last drive against the Ticks was the running game turning the corner or if there’s still cause for major concern.

One thing Elon cannot do in this game is make mistakes. They’ve physically been the better team most times out this season but man have they been mistake-prone thus keeping so many games close. Heck, even two years ago when JMU destroyed them 51-0 you could see there was the beginnings of a talent pool that just had no idea what it was doing. Coach Cignetti has turned things around and has them believing in their own ability, but they’ve made every mental mistake you can name at some point this year – ill-timed turnovers, shanked punts, missed kicks, etc. – and that is something nobody in the country can afford against the Dukes. If Elon plays a clean game, they have the talent to hang with the Dukes. If they play a clean game and limit JMU’s possessions by controlling the clock, the Phoenix are capable of winning their first CAA title.

How JMU Can Win?

Limit mistakes and big plays and run the ball at least effectively. That Schor fumble against Richmond last week was the kind of killer mistake that we just haven’t seen often under Coach Houston. Same goes for the personal foul penalties. The Dukes defense bailed them out and the team has often been so much better talent-wise that they haven’t had to worry about overcoming these daggers. But Elon is 8-2 for a reason no matter the manner in which they’ve achieved that record and this week JMU cannot afford these lapses.

On offense, the Dukes need to find a way to run the ball “effectively” even if they aren’t the runaway freight train of last year. A single yard or no gain on first down is simply not good enough. 3rd and 9 cannot be the norm. They don’t have to gash the defense on every play, but 4-5 positive yards and staying on schedule to keep the other team guessing is mandatory. We haven’t seen all the playmakers (Alls, Hyman, Stapleton, Miller, Kloo) on the outside have space that often this year because JMU’s been forced to look their way when opponent’s know what’s coming. Think of all those 2nd or 3rd and short plays where Schor found Domo Taylor or Rashard Davis down the field last year because it was unexpected. The Dukes need to find that rhythm again and no better time than when a title’s on the line and the playoffs are looming!

Defense needs to just play the way they have all year.

Don’t Forget the FCS Playoff Selection Show

Win or lose, we’ll all get to see our three favorite letters discussed and thrown up in the 2017 Playoff Bracket this Sunday morning. The FCS Selection Show airs at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the lack of knowledge of all the commentators (except Anish Shroff of course) and former Howard QB and MEAC homer Jay Howard hijacking the show with complaints about his alma mater being snubbed.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Dad Fuel Helles Lager from Steel String Brewing in Carrboro, NC. We had to go with a local-ish selection for those making the trip to the Old North State this weekend and Carrboro, which is about 30 minutes from Elon right next to Chapel Hill, is a funky town with great food and beverage options. This hoppy pale lager is exactly what is says, fuel for dads, and is a light, easy-drinking only 5.1%ABV that works great for a morning tailgate and a noon game.

And for those of you who indulged our condiment ramblings on the podcast this week and want to check out Himihead Sauce or the cool little hamlet of Saxapahaw, here’s some more information.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes drop the hammer! JMU 41, Elon 14

Nov 15 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Elon

JMU heads to Elon this weekend for what is essentially the CAA championship game. The Dukes have clinched a share of the title, but Elon can share it with a win. That’s not something I ever thought I’d write. The Dukes also have a 22 game winning streak on the line and are hoping to close out an undefeated regular season. So, big game.

We’re running back our prediction contest again. Here’s a refresher. Leave a comment below letting us know who you think is going to win on Saturday. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. It’s that easy.

Go Dukes!

Nov 14 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: 22 Straight & Enjoying the Moment

In the latest episode of the JMUSB Podcast, we discussed how we recently realized that our constant worrying about the Dukes’ chances in the postseason, that we’re kind of missing the regular season. And it’s been a great season. Then we discuss the playoff picture overall and how many CAA teams are poised to keep playing after Saturday. We finally close things out by talking about our favorite condiments (hint: we’re a very pro-mayo podcast).

Nov 13 / Todd

Dukes Defeat Spiders on Senior Night for 22nd Straight; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Defense – What else is their to say at this point in the season? This week the defense faced BY FAR the best QB and group of wideouts they have all year (Wilkins ate us up) and somehow still managed to maintain their streak of a season’s worth of not allowing a team more than two TD’s worth of scoring. Incredible. No matter the record RU was good, maybe really good. We have no idea how they lost four games before this and the play Lauletta made on a swing pass to the left where he ended up having to pump twice to avoid defenders and then throw a perfect ball to a streaking RB for a huge gain was all the evidence needed to realize the Spiders were the biggest threat the Dukes faced all year. But the defense, top to bottom, was amazing. Fans need to stop freaking out when an opponent makes a great play. Sometimes it happens. And when you play press-man single coverage all the time and the other team has the talent to execute 19 yard back shoulder throws, you tip your cap and line up again. We won’t see another team capable of an aerial attack like this till mid-December (SDSU?) if at all, but that’s no reason to think the Dukes weren’t badass on Saturday. Hawkins and Hereford deserve special mention for generally being all-around insane football players. And one other guy that flashed Saturday whose number we haven’t called a ton this year was Ron’Dell Carter – looking forward to having him marauding around backfields next month!

The Drive – 55 minutes of disappointment. 55 minutes of all of us gnashing our teeth and sweating bullets. And then that! It was magnificent and it shut up the Spiders and about 20k nervous, whining Dukes fans. The offensive line, in particular the left side of Stinnie and Bolden, along with Trai Sharp, who appeared to take out all of his frustration at not starting on about three plays, simply took that game over and ended it. One of the best underrated moments from this game is also the fact that we know nothing. Despite fan angst, the team was loose, laughing, and clearly still believing they had it all along before that last drive. Way to go fellas.

The Crowd – Yes students left early (though I gotta admit I used to never bring my winter clothes till Thanksgiving Break and since they’re perennially underdressed it does make more sense than usual). But the fans that were there throughout were the best they’ve been all season and you could sense everyone rounding into cold-weather, bourbon-induced playoff form. Well done (mostly and more to come on this) Dukes fans. And a quick shout-out to the fans on the Godwin side in the middle two sections below the old press box. That section used to be all students but has morphed into quite a few STH’s, particularly young alums like our buddy Evangelista, over the last couple of years. They were fantastic throughout the game!

Elon for the title! – This is a bit of a personal one, but needless to say I’m thrilled the Dukes will be down here in my backyard playing for a title on real grass this weekend! If you can make the trip, it should be a great one JMU Nation.

Seniors – Winningest class in JMU History. Nothing else to say. Except THANK YOU of course!

The Bad

CAA gonna CAA – Let’s see, a bunch of unsportsmanlike penalties against the Dukes, including one on Jimmy for simply celebrating a pick with Jordan with the traditional hip bump, and then you’re gonna let a Spider flap his wings and dance on top of a JMU player for five whole seconds with no call?! And don’t get me started on spotting the ball and not reviewing spots. It won’t do any good to go through the list, but for the millionth time, it’s just such a kick in the nads reminder that for all of our incredible growth and atmosphere and stadium and big time feel and over-the-FBS discussion for now, the Crummy Athletic Association remains a low major on so many structural levels.

The Ugly

Rivalries are a tricky thing. They bring out both the best and the worst in participants and fans. This week I saw plenty of both. First, the Richmond cheerleading coach tried to get a family kicked out because a streamer fell on her, crushing her beneath whole ounces of tissue paper. And yes, a certain Spider threw up the alt-1 at fans. But it wasn’t one-sided. I witnessed a near-fight because of a mere bump between TWO DUKES FANS in the men’s room at halftime. The younger guy was so bombed he fell down in the concourse trying to extricate himself and thankfully found himself face-to-face with a Virginia State Trooper. But some of that stuff is peripheral. In other words, it’s not related to the game. What really drove me nuts was Dukes fans loudly, crudely, and ridiculously criticizing the coaching staff, play-calling, and performance of our beloved squad. Really people? Really?! Have we gotten so full of ourselves and so spoiled that we can’t take a deep breath and enjoy the majesty of trying to beat an archival fighting for its playoff life for a 22nd straight victory? If you think you’ve got a better idea than the group that hasn’t lost since the last presidential administration and won the Natty, kindly send your C.V. to bournejeff@goeffyourself.com. And despite my own crudeness there (sorry, I’m pissed on this one), a good buzz is not license to curse constantly. It’s cold, it’s nearly playoff-time, and in this case it’s RU. A little nip or two and a few wobbles is nothing the two of us can look down upon. And when a CAA ref does a CAA ref thing, if a heat-of-the-moment expletive slips out, we get it. But consistently showering the fans around you with your own four-word blackout vocabulary is just not a good look. Tailgate, tie one on, root like crazy, but do better.

Nov 11 / Rob

Gameday: Dukes vs. Ticks


It’s finally here guys. Dukes vs. Ticks in Bridgeforth Stadium. There’s nothing like a JMU gameday, but when Richmond comes to town things rise up to a different level. Today we’ll have the pleasure of watching JMU’s outstanding defense face its toughest test of the season. Kyle Lauletta has been slinging the ball all over the field this season. He hasn’t faced a unit anywhere near as effective as Andrew Ankrah and the boys. If you’re headed to the game, stay warm and be loud. If you’re watching at home, you can be loud there too. Now it’s time to Lock the Damn Gates!

Go Dukes!

Keep Rootin!

Nov 10 / Rob

JMUSB Game Preview #10: JMU vs. Richmond

It’s almost here. The game most of us had circled all the calendars back in August. It might not be to decide the CAA crown like many of assumed it would be, but it’s still a huge game. Because Richmond. And as Dukes fans, we love seeing our team stomp Spiders. In 2015 JMU was 7-0 when RU came to town and ruined the Dukes chances for an undefeated season. Last year, Bryan Schor and the good guys had the upper hand.

Saturday’s affair should be a quite a test for the dominant JMU defense. Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta has been slinging it all season. He and his teammates lead the CAA in passing and in total offense. Rhode Island they ain’t. But Richmond hasn’t seen anything like this Dukes D.

The Basics

Match-up: #1 JMU Dukes 9-0 (6-0) vs. Richmond Spiders 5-4 (3-3)
Kick-off: 3:300 PM on Saturday, in Bridgeforth Stadium
Weather: High of 40. Bundle up.
Broadcast: MASN 2 or streaming via Madizone

How We Got Here

The Dukes beat Rhode Island last week, because of course they did. That’s what this Dukes team does. It wins. The victory was a program record 21st straight. In the win over Rhody, the defense was its normal dominant self. And the offense ran all over the Rams in the second half. It was fun.

Richmond enters the game coming off a road victory at Villanova. It was perhaps RU’s best game of the season. The defense, which has struggled, shut out the Wildcats and allowed only 163 yards. And the rushing attack had a terrific day against a tough Nova defense, eclipsing the 100 yard mark for the first time since week 3 agains Howard and only the 3rd time all season. It’s been an up and down season for the Ticks. They started out with championship dreams, and now must win to even keep their playoff hopes alive. read more…

Nov 9 / jmusport

305 Days Passed and Purple and Gold Remains Untouched; the Answer to Why You Should be There to Witness Greatness

The following is a guest post from Colleen, a current senior at JMU. 

The fans of the James Madison University Dukes know better than anyone what it means to be a part of a winning program. After the JMU football team plowed through nearly every opponent they faced in the 2016 season, eventually clenching the title of national champions on Jan. 7, 2017, JMU fans have been given plenty of reason to sing their fight song proudly. Clearly establishing themselves as the brightest team in all of the CAA, don’t they deserve to perform in front of a crowd as large as the Bridgeforth stands will hold?

Yes, JMU students have some of the greatest school spirit of all FBS schools, but winning does get tiring, even for a bunch as rowdy and spirited as the dukes. Sometimes it takes a little reminder to get them back on their feet, howling “Madison, James Madison” so here it is!

Bridgeforth Stadium pictured with the third highest attendance in its history.

JMUSportsblog challenges JMU nation to show up and show out for JMU’s last home game on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. Beating records and exemplifying greatness is what JMU does best. After all, the football team has shown us with their 21-game winning streak, which is in fact the longest winning streak left in the country, that JMU is simply meant to break records. 25,330 is the number to beat for this year, for fans in attendance; are you up for the challenge, JMU Nation?

The 2017 FCS National Champion JMU Dukes.

Better your college experience by being a part of something bigger than yourself. The JMU football dukes have earned their credibility through countless successful performances and deserve the fan base that JMU nation has to offer. Make memories that are sure to be unforgettable, while watching the only undefeated team in the country continue its streak. Dress in all black; throw gold and purple streamers; and be a part of the largest crowd in JMU history. An experience to see this undefeated Dukes team go into battle doesn’t come around every day. This is a special time for JMU Football; who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Get your tickets as soon as possible and be a part of the legacy that is JMU football.