This time next week we’ll be firing up an official JMUSB preview of the Maryland game, complete with a Beer of the Week, tailgating tips for College Park, and lots of snark about one of the nation’s most underratedly ghettofabulous states. In the meantime, we’ll have to hang in there, hope for no injuries in the last week of prep, and warm up by cheering for the JMU sports that kickoff even before football. This includes women’s soccer, who opens the season at home tomorrow against Xavier from the AAC. This game will feature a Vuvuzela giveaway, and to be honest that’s kind of fantastic.
But first, a few quick links:
Coastal Carolina is getting a TEAL field. Seriously. It’s awful, it’s funny, it’s FCS baby! These non-green fields are getting out of control. Not that we couldn’t get behind a purple field of course.
Freshmen: Stop scaring people with toy guns at FROG week and learn this now!
Finally, enjoy this last week of summer with a celebratory Shmoney Dance before you prepare your college football hibernation cave.
See y’all next week! And welcome to the class of 2018!
JMU alum and ESPN Sportscenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak joined the masses and did the Ice Bucket Challenge today, help raise awareness (and a whole lot of money) for ALS. She also did it while representing her alma mater by sporting a classic James Madison University tee. Lindsay issued the challenge to Teddy Roosevelt, the Nats racing president, and some other guy who isn’t as good as Matt Harvey. About the only thing that could have made this better was if she challenged Duke Dog. Great job Lindsay and Go Dukes.
@Michael_2clutch is a JMU fan we follow on twitter who always has great insight and analysis on the football program. So when we saw he was attending Saturday’s scrimmage, we asked him to write a guest post. Give him a follow on twitter and enjoy his analysis below.
As a JMU class of 2012 alum and huge fan of JMU football, the conclusion of the scrimmage was the right “fix” needed to get the 2014 season started. As all the headlines on Everett Withers, rumors of FBS and the New Era of JMU appeared left and right on social media, I had to make the 2 hour drive (which will happen at least 5 more times this fall) to see the Dukes myself. Honestly, I wasn’t even going to make the trip but was constantly haggle by my partner in crime, Kristin, to go since she dubbed me JMU’s biggest fan and the visit was a necessity to my obsessiveness. Little did I know, I would run into my former college housemate and newly-wed JMU connoisseur, Jonathan, where we spent the next 2 hours discussing the new era of JMU football unfold before us on the field.
Most of you know me as @Michael_2clutch “tweeting unofficial JMU news, witty nonsense and a plethora of things” and that is how the guys at the Sports Blog reached out to me to write this guest post. As I sat there in O’Neill’s Grill, in the process of devouring the coveted cookie skillet, I began to recap what I had the pleasure of witnessing on the field.
Here are a few takeaways from JMU’s 2014 scrimmage: read more…
The Dukes preseason football camp is in full swing. Over the weekend, the team put on the full pads and really got down to business. In the video above, Vad Lee offers his thoughts on practice, the tempo, and the team’s offensive weapons. You can also check out video practice reports from Daniel Brown, Dean Marlowe, and Alex Mosley.
Former Duke Josh Wells is working hard to make the Jaguars. After seeing a lot of action in last weekend’s preseason game, Wells got some reps with the second team this week. That’s a move up the depth chart from the third team. NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport hints that Wells might be an undrafted free agent who actually defies the odds and makes the team.
Wells former teammate from JMU, Jordan Stanton, had his second sack in as many preseason games. Some analysts think Stanton has a real shot to make the 53 man roster or at least earn a spot on the practice squad.
Soccer season is almost here, and the JMU ladies were picked to finish second in the CAA behind preseason favorite Hofstra. Expectations are lower for the men, who were predicted to finish dead last.
JMU Field Hockey will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its National Championship this Fall. Christy Morgan, the woman who coached the Dukes to that title, is back and in charge of program. The ladies were picked to finish 4th in the CAA, but maybe a little championship magic will carry them to a title in this anniversary year.
As fellow, if opposing, NL East fans Rob (Mets) and I (Nats) shared a good laugh today thinking about what tonight’s Nats game would’ve been like if uber-buttclinchers McCann and Larry were still playing for Atlanta in light of Bryce Harper’s new stunt scratching out the “A” behind the plate. Needless to say, the #Barves pride themselves on being the undisputed, and unbearable, keepers of those notorious “unwritten rules” that baseball, in all it’s monotony and guys-getting-chesty-but-not-doing-anything faux machismo, seems to care so much about. So we started going back and forth on whether there were any unwritten rules to JMU fandom. Turns out we had a good time coming up with quite a few and hopefully you all can add to them in the comments. Also, there just isn’t all that much to say till the games kick off (soon, it’s very soon!) and we’re disgusted by this weekend’s top, and unmentionable, sports story, which seems as if it has a touch of pure evil and certainly turns the stomach.
One great piece of news is that Jordan Stanton had ANOTHER strip-sack for Rob’s Giants this week and it seems likely there are NY fans, and hopefully coaches, starting to believe in the JMU standout!
10. No matter how bad you have to go, you will catch at least part of the MRD’s at the half. You are personally allowed to make fun of your annoying band-geek suite mate, but people from other schools better not say shit about the band (or the Duke in the Dukettes)!
9. You must pretend the Ticks are still our big rival even though they’re in a six-bid hoops league
8. Unless you’re in recovery, NEVER turndown ‘shine when offered at a tailgate.
7. Purple, not red, Solo cups (Party City people, get on it)
6. A broken collarbone or a busted shoulder is no excuse for poor streamer form (learned this one the hard way being mocked by a six-year old last season).
5. Aside from 109, you will not be allowed to stand or cheer loudly during the first 55 minutes of a game thanks to the douches behind you (hopefully the new era will put this one to the test this year)
4. You must learn the words, at least the chorus, to “Start Wearing Purple”
3. You do not cheer, support, boost, or back, you ROOT! (fer Dukes, bud)
2. Always excuse Duke Dog as long as he’s not wearing that b.s. fake DD suit from ’11. You’re allowed to shove a grandparent to make room for Duke Dog.
1. Always have absurdly unrealistic expectations and threaten a lynch mob if they’re not met
In honor of worthless pregame coverage of exhibition preseason games, we thought we should warm up for the season with a little Beer of the Week practice.
Today was IPA Day. This makes sense because it’s August, you know, summertime, when it’s hot and an IPA tastes pretty good. And even though IPA’s time has now clearly passed in the hipster beer-geek world, at least that’s an actual beer.
As opposed to Pumpkin anything. As we’ve stated multiple times, pumpkin beer is a bullshit excuse to get non-drinkers to open their wallets and sugar their glasses. Even you PumpKing. And you Punkin. And all of you other horrible punning names stealing shelf-space, in the middle of the damned summer already, from real beer. Please go away. Pumpkin beer on an Ashburn porch is to the 2010′s what Strawberry Daiquiris were to the 80′s in a fern bar. Disgraceful.
Ok, glad we got that off our chests. Now on to a couple of football related items. As most of you know by now, the P5 conferences (formerly the BCS) voted to give themselves autonomy today from the rest of the NCAA teams. You’re welcome to deep-dive this, but the main effect seems to us to be pushing the G5 conferences (CUSA/MAC/SunBelt among them) back towards FCS. At least until one or more of those conferences vote, as they are now allowed to do, to keep up with the Joneses on the “full cost of attendance” and other benefits now coming for the big boys. Of course, this also officially means FCS/1-AA/JMU are officially Division II. But hey, at least NC State announced a game in five years with JMU! (a game they’ll almost certainly not be allowed to play under new rule changes but we can crow now and continue bilking our boosters under false pretenses)
On the positive side, Akeem Jordan was in on a couple tackles for the Skins tonight. We couldn’t bear watching long enough to see if Caussin played so fill us in below in the comments. Also, check out this cool story on Jordan Stanton, who’s certainly cranking up the press and hopefully forcing the Giants to take a long look.
The JMU football program kicked off practice for the 2014 season this week. The Dukes will have about a month of preseason camp before facing Maryland in College Park on August 30. After fifteen years of the Mickey Matthews’ regime, it’s now Everetty Withers time. With the change in coaches, there are a lot of questions heading into the season. There is also a lot of excitement. Here are three of the stories we’ll be watching closely during camp.
1. The Transfers
Former Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee might be the most prominent FBS transfer on the roster, but he’s definitely not the only one. Withers and his staff have brought in FBS talent in to compete for spots all over the field. Alden Hill, a former Tennessee Volunteer, will line up behind Lee at running back. And Sean Tapley from UNC will join a receiving corps anchored by Daniel Brown that should provide Lee with plenty of options. But it’s not just skill guys. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Brad Davis will have some new blood to work with on the line. Nick Appel, another former Tar Heel, and former Toledo Mudhen A.J. Bolden are expected to compete for spots on a rebuilt offensive line that will feature only 2 returning starters from 2013.
Not every FBS player can walk into an FCS camp and immediately dominate, yet along earn a starting spot. The influx of FBS talent will probably increase the competition at certain spots though. And that seems to be a key piece of the Everett Withers plan, pushing the players to compete and be held accountable at all times. That’s great and something that is needed after the program essentially plateauing during Matthews’ last few years.
2. The Switch to a 3-4 Defense
I’m not going to pretend to be some film junkie who can break down the Xs and Os for you. I’m not Jaws. I’m sure that’s pretty obvious to any of you who are familiar with the blog. But I am curious to see how the Dukes’ defense responds to a shift to a 3-4 system.
Mickey Matthews’ teams were known for strong defense. He coached some truly great defensive squads over the years that were capable of shutting down opponents. With a new coaching staff comes a new philosophy however and JMU is now moving to a 3-4. The Dukes now not only need to replace Stephon Robertson, one of the program’s top linebackers in history, and Jordan Stanton, a guy who could get to the QB, they need to learn a completely new system. Personally, I think things will work out just fine. Gage Steele impressed me greatly last season and I think the young linebacker has the talent to make the leap to an All CAA type of player this year. Provided the Dukes can shore up some of the holes in the secondary and pressure the QB, the defense should be fine.
3. Vad Lee
We mentioned Vad as the most prominent of the transfers, but he really deserves his own spot on this list. In addition to installing a completely new defensive system in less than 30 days, the Dukes are switching offensive philosophies as well. They’ll be playing an uptempo system based on the read option. It’s a system that depends on the QB making the right reads and decisions. To say that much of the offense’s success will come down to Lee’s play is not just simple, it’s accurate.
Lee was very impressive in the spring and the clear frontrunner for the QB1 spot prior to Michael Birdsong transferring. As soon Birdsong left, it cleared the way for Lee to take the helm and make the Dukes his team. According to reports, he’s done just that. Lee has impressed teammates with his work ethic and attitude and seems like the sort of leader the offense needs. He’s got some serious weapons at his disposal. If he makes the right reads and gets the ball to some of the Dukes playmakers, this offense could be very exciting.
We’ve collectively almost made it through the JMU offseason. Football kicks off at Maryland in less than four weeks and many of the Olympic sports will be well underway long before then (Women’s soccer kicks off the year August 22nd vs. Xavier!). We’ve been on vacation wrapping up our summer research for Beer of the Week this year but it’s time to ramp up our two-a-days, or hopefully just back to three-a-weeks.
Here’s a quick Old Guys Leave roundup of some news, notes and links to finish out these last weeks of vacation:
First, pretty cool that two current JMU Women’s Soccer players spent the summer playing on the Washington Spirit’s Reserve Squad, where they made it all the way to the title game. Great work ladies!
Jordan Stanton’s been making some early noise at Giants camp and we’re excited to see all the Dukes in camps and preseason action this fall (especially given most of them are now with the two teams we cheer for). Check out this cool story and keep it up Jordan!
And here’s something rarer than a unicorn, a great piece in the RTD, in this case on the Skins’ Akeem Jordan playing for his boyhood team and trying to balance out essentially playing for the home team.
Lastly, as I’ve sort of mentioned this summer (and probably overmentioned @JMUSportsblog), I moved to Greensboro, NC this summer for work. So JMUSB will be split up other than BFS, but we’ll also have a odd presence (ok, just me) at some off-brand road games this year. So feel free to comment and let me know if you’re interested in W’s Soccer at Wake Forest August 29, M’s Soccer at UNCG September 5, or of course any of the roadies at Elon.
Groundhog Day. Pretty sure I wrote a similar thing last year but here goes. We’re pretty sure many of you are as tired of conference discussion as we are. And we’re definitely sure most of you are tired of our split personality disorder @jmusportsblog on this. As always, Rob is thoughtful, patient, and not overly concerned. He’s never really thought the JMU admin was actually motivated about leaving the CAA or FCS to begin with and that’s helped him stay sane. I am reactionary, upset and generally depressed about the lack of movement and what I perceive to be a severe lack of communication, vision, and execution from both the Rose and Alger administrations on this issue.
But I need to get this off my chest before the season starts in earnest. I’m as excited about Withers, Lee, and the new era ON the field as anyone and I would like to stop being depressed and join in the party with everyone else. Despite the low expectations from outside of JMU Land, I’m cautiously optimistic that if the Dukes can get out of the first four games with at least two wins, this could be big year (especially because you damned well better make it into a 24-team playoff field with no App, real GSU, and ODU). But I’m also really concerned about the slippery slope between being excited about the program’s changes and direction on the field and allowing the administration to perceive that as blind cheerleading that will continue unchecked by sheepish fans even without communication or a move. Basically this is just one last (tired I know) reminder that while you’re having fun celebrating all the bruhaha over Drew Mohringer’s new offense and the fact JMU could be scoring by the truckload with a stacked offense this year, just keep in mind what it is your celebrating: that JMU clearly hired the type of coach and staff that were lured here with the promise of FBS, and that coach and staff have clearly been kicking ass luring transfers and 2015 recruits with that same promise and someone damned well better find a way to deliver or the next season or two’s going to amount to one last blip on the radar of JMU football’s journey back to irrelevance.
Earlier this week was Media Day for the CAA, CUSA, and the MAC, the three relevant conferences now that JMU has shot down the Sun Belt.
CUSA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said “I believe (realignment) is (over). The seas are pretty calm. … Western Kentucky last piece to puzzle.”
MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said “We have 12 full-time members, and I don’t see us changing that in the near future.” He specifically said the MAC has no plans to expand once UMASS leaves.
As we’ve been reminded many times by more level-headed fans, the “end of realignment” is likely a mythical creature. But those are very scary statements for those of us that think there is no status quo (exactly what the Carr Report said) and that staying in the CAA is simply falling farther and farther behind.
In the last week, we’ve also seen this released (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2014/07/16/college-football-playoff-financial-revenues-money-distribution-bill-hancock/12734897/) regarding the revenue structure and streams for all FBS conferences under the new College Football Playoff regime. Needless to say, exactly as Carr predicted ALL of the FBS leagues, even CUSA/MAC/SunBelt, are expected to see enormously increased revenue and to speed up the separation between the bottom of FBS and even the tippy top of FCS (a place JMU hasn’t been in a few years on the field though they certainly are in terms of expenditures and overall athletics program). For the last decade or so, it’s been easy to say if you were spending like a lower-level FBS program but were still in FCS, that was basically alright because the rewards of the move up weren’t worth the hassles. That dynamic has clearly changed and no one, seriously no one, can competently argue that point.
So when you see JB and co. on Godwin Field this year, if this matters to you the way it does to me, please just keep all that in mind instead of just slapping people on the back about the new, hopefully high-flying and WINNING, era of JMU Football we’re all looking forward to so much.
Alright, I’m putting away the soapbox for till the postseason and we can return to the “juice, the new era, and Vad Lee doing his Rodney Landers impression” season-long celebration!
It’s a year of change for the JMU football program. A new coaching staff, new starting QB, multiple new skill players, and revamped philosophies on both sides of the ball. Apparently that all adds up to low expectations for the voters in the CAA Preseason Poll, who picked the Dukes to finish eight in the league. The results of the poll and the All CAA teams were revealed at CAA Media Day yesterday. Only Rhode Island, Albany, Stony Brook, and the league’s newest entrant, Elon, were picked to finish below the Dukes. New Hampshire was the runaway favorite and preseason pick to win the league with 15 first place votes. Villanova, Richmond, and William & Mary also received first place votes. Senior Safety Dean Marlowe was selected to the CAA Preseason All Conference Team. He was the only Duke honored.
Just two quick comments about this. First of all, we’ve made it pretty clear in the past that this preseason polls and honors are virtually worthless. They’re a total crapshoot and for evidence all you need to do is look back at a number of very mediocre JMU teams that were picked to contend for the conference title. Second of all, it’s the oldest cliche in the book, but the “nobody believes in us” strategy still seems to be pretty effective. Playing with a bit of a chip on your shoulder is never a bad thing. The Dukes will have the opportunity to do just that in 2014.