Nov 27 / Todd

We Are Thankful For…

Moreland TD

A Home playoff game! #BlackoutBridgeforth

Jimmy ‘effin Moreland, and Taylor ‘effin Reynolds

A 4-1 hoops start

The #NewEra of JMU Football under Everett Withers

Sweeping the Ticks and Tribe

Vad Lee, transfer extraordinaire (dare we whisper “Rascati-esque)

Five great years of readers for JMUSB!

A rapidly improving Defense peaking at the right time

The tailgate scene at JMU

A beast O-Line

Kenny Brooks – best man in JMU Athletics – and his amazing squads

A deep group of wideouts being expertly utilized by Mohringer and company

A potential rematch with Villanova

All the friends, and frenemies, we’ve made through this little project

And of course, PURPLE helmets FOREVER!

What else are we missing? Let us know in the comments.

 

Nov 25 / Rob

Prediction Contest (Playoff Edition): JMU vs. Liberty

blackout bridgeforthThe JMU Dukes face get the playoffs started with a game against the Liberty Flames this Saturday at 4:00 in Bridgeforth Stadium. It will be the Dukes’ first playoff game in the new Bridgeforth, the first playoff game of the New Era, and the first playoff game since 2011 overall. This means our weekly prediction contests get to keep going. By now you regulars should know how this works. If you just jumped on the bandgwagon and are new around here (welcome by the way), it’s pretty simple. Leave a comment below letting us know who you think 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. That’s it. Now, keep rootin’ fer Dukes!

Nov 24 / Todd

Dukes Are Playoff Bound, HOST Liberty Saturday 4 p.m.

A HOME playoff game, Christmas really did come early this year!

A HOME playoff game, Christmas really did come early this year!

So what a weekend for JMU Football. The New Era of JMU football that Coach Withers has been preaching  since he took the job last offseason accomplished the first couple of what we hope our many more goals to come this weekend. First, they destroyed Elon and picked up their ninth regular season win. In any era of JMU football, a nine-win regular season is darn fine one and we’d hope just about all the doubters have been silenced. The Dukes finished a game ahead of our projections and they did it convincingly, turning that bad OT loss to Delaware into motivation and a springboard to become the team we’ve seen the last month or so which appears to be an ice-cold killing machine. They finished third in the CAA – a spot assured of a postseason berth and behind only New Hampshire and Villanova, who had amazing seasons of their own (as expected we might add). And finally, they made it to the playoffs. Well done all around!

Elon Game

Not much to say here. It was a bright, cool day and the Dukes took care of business in impressive fashion. Elon is bad, but to their credit they played hard and didn’t seem to be just playing out the string of a long year. That said, the Dukes dominated in every phase on their way to a 59-27 rout that was way more impressive than the final score. More good kicking from Maglio and even a punt block from specials. A slew of turnovers, sacks, and big plays from the defense. And finally, an offense that’s looking like something none of us have ever seen from a JMU team – an absolute reaper that seems to gain traction as gains go on and scores with the inevitability of a Swiss timepiece. The offensive line in particular gave Vad Lee all day to survey the field and he consistently chose the downfield option – it was  a sight to see.

That’s really all. Elon had no business in CAA Football. Oh yeah, the purple helmet/black top/purple pants combo was even better than the purple/black/black. And we already know JMU is calling for all of us to Black Out Bridgeforth this weekend so they’ll be back. That’s black out Bridgeforth, not black out at Bridgeforth by the way.

PLAYFOFFS!

The Dukes found out Sunday that they made the field easily and get this, will HOST Liberty at 4 p.m. this Saturday in Bridgeforth Stadium. Needless to say, when Liberty upset Coastal Carolina to earn the Big South’s automatic bid Saturday, buttholes tightened all over JMU Nation about the possibility the Dukes were now in the unfortunate position to lose another hosting bid given the NCAA’s mandate on regionalism in early round games and Liberty’s ability and propensity to spend money prodigiously. But damned if Jeff Bourne and company didn’t outbid Liberty! Woo hoo! Did not see that coming, but well done, seriously well done. To paraphrase one of the movies’ most underrated father figures, when we’re wrong, we say we’re wrong. Congrats and we are so thankful to our administration for stepping up this time around! New era indeed. And wouldn’t you know it, whenever they unlocked Charlie King from wherever they locked him away during the bidding process, he probably even breathed a sigh of relief that we drew Liberty, a team with a large travelling fanbase that will help make for a great gate on Saturday, probably one that comes close to filling the stadium even with students on break (though there slack-asses should come back for this one!).

Sure Richmond settled under a lucky star and has an easier path with hosting Morgan St. and then heading for Coastal, but just stop whining about that already. It’s the playoffs, other than Morgan St. and San Diego, every other team is good and no second-round game is easy. You think our guys wouldn’t be fired up for another shot at Villanova?! And no other team in the field would do nearly what Liberty will for the atmosphere at BFS this weekend. On that note, congrats go out to the Flames as well for finally earning their first-ever playoff berth after years of coming up just short.

We’ll get back to more serious previewing tomorrow and breaking down the bracket (though if you’re as into looking ahead as we are, you’ll note that BFS may not be closed just yet for the season), but we only have two initial thoughts. First, the way JMU has been playing they can beat ANY team in the field. But second, Liberty’s legit and don’t let the weaker Big South fool you. They beat FBS App. St., played another FBS game, and played a tough out of conference game against Indiana St. from the MVFC. They’re tested and ready as well.

Now go buy those tickets!

Let’s Go Dukes!

Nov 22 / Rob

Gameday Open Thread: JMU vs. Elon


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’.

Nov 21 / Rob

Game Preview 11: JMU vs. Elon

Moreland TDThe Basics

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

JMU 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

2. ?

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.

Nov 20 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Elon

Daniel BrownHere 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.

Nov 19 / Todd

Open Letter to JMU Students Part II

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Nov 18 / Rob

Fan Confidence Poll: Regular Season Finale

Things are certainly different than they were a few weeks ago. After plummeting to a low of 19% after JMU lost to Delaware, last week a full 71% of poll respondents thought JMU was headed to the playoffs. After the 35 point win over Richmond in Bridgeforth East, we’re assuming that number should go up again this week. Only CAA newcomer Elon stands between the Dukes and a 9-3 regular season record. Elon has struggled in its first CAA season. Mightily struggled. But the Pheonix shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’m sure there’s nothing they’d rather do than close the season by defeating one of the hottest teams in the country.

Nov 16 / Todd

Dukes Destroy Richmond 55-20 (Warning: Playoff Talk Ahead)

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.

The Good

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!

In case you were wondering what  National Defensive Player of the Week looks like in action.

In case you were wondering what National Defensive Player of the Week looks like in action.

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.

The Bad

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.

Thanks to Varina HS for the halftime entertainment!

Thanks to Varina HS for the halftime entertainment!

The Ugly

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!

Last Word

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!

Nov 15 / Rob

Gameday Open Thread: Dukes vs. Ticks

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!