Oct 25 / Rob

Gameday Open Thread: JMU vs. Charlotte

JMU-Villanova FTBEarly kickoffs mean and early start for rootin’. JMU and Charlotte play at 12:00 noon today. JMU is looking to keep rolling after a dominating win over Towson. Consider this your open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter. Go Dukes.

Oct 25 / Rob

Fan Confidence, What a Difference a Win Makes

week 8 confidence

Blowout win and fan confidence shoots back up. Still split though. Rattle a few more wins and seats on the bandwagon will be hot. Go Dukes.

Oct 23 / Todd

Game Preview #8: JMU @ UNC Charlotte

Want to troll a 49ers fan?!

Want to troll a 49ers fan?!

The Basics

Match-up: unranked JMU Dukes (4-3, 2-2 CAA) vs unranked UNCC 49ers (3-4, FCS independent)

Kick-off: 12:00 PM Saturday, October 25 at Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Weather Forecast:  Sunny, high of 73, 0% chance of rain, winds only 5 mph (basically a perfect day and the opposite of last year’s monsoon, but we’ve heard from our UNCC source that this will require sunscreen given the absolute lack of shade anywhere in this bowl stadium, including the above ground, no-cover concourse)

Broadcast: Online only, paid service through Charlotte. Looks like this is the old school $9.95 and then cancel the monthly unless you can find it on Wiziwig or First Row Sports.

How UNCC Can Win

Who knows. Seriously, it’s almost impossible to know much about this team from the schedule they’ve played so far:

Won @ non scholarship Campbell 33-9.
Won vs. Div II Johnson C Smith 56-0.
Won @ NC Central (MEAC) (3-4) 40-28.
Lost @ Elon (1-6) 20-13
Lost vs. Charleston Southern (5-2) 47-41 (OT).
Lost @ Gardner-Webb (4-3) 27-24.
Lost vs. Citadel (2-5) 63-56 (2 OT). (credit to BDK for this research)

Despite having more scholarships than last year’s team and considerably more than JMU in preparation for CUSA play next year, somehow the 49ers “might” be worse than last year. I say “might” because that schedule is impossible to read. The three wins are utterly meaningless cupcakes. The loss to Elon is bad, but not a whole lot different than JMU’s own loss (at home I might add) to UD. Then they played, and lost, three really tight games against SoCon teams that are all competent (Citadel was a trendy pick in the preseason and that 2-5 record has been a huge disappointment given their talent).

This is UNCC’s homecoming and their coach called JMU “the biggest opponent we’ve had in here so far” so I imagine the team and its partisans will be fairly amped. They’re a run-first and run-second team despite an up-tempo pace because their QB has been looser with the ball than 4th-quarter Romo.

How JMU Can Win

Stop the run and then force turnovers. Assuming the bye week was a restful positive and the Dukes offense doesn’t sleepwalk through a half or more like the Delaware game, we’re confident the Dukes will score points. The key in this one is keeping up the defensive business we saw against Towson a couple weeks ago. UNCC has shown the ability to score throughout the season and sort of appears to be significantly better than that Towson team, but if the Dukes can force them to turn to an inconsistent passing game, weather the Marlowe-less first half (targeting ejection suspension) and force some turnovers, they should prove the better team worthy of the their status as 10-point road favorites.

One thing that will be interesting to see is the turnout from Dukes fans. Despite Homecoming, this isn’t a sellout from UNCC and JMU has a decent alumni contingent in the area that has complained for years about being overlooked. As many of you know, I moved down to Greensboro this summer and will be looking forward to attending this one and joining those folks in some tailgate action and hopefully to cheer a big Dukes win.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

While we’re still not completely convinced by the hue and cry from Charlotte about their budding “world class” beer scene, especially with everything Virginia and other places in North Carolina, most notably the glorious hamlet of Asheville, have to offer, we are willing to make a Charlotte-specific selection this week with NoDa Brewing’s Hop, Drop and Roll IPA. It’s really tasty and the tall-boy cans are perfect for a morning tailgate in the sunshine.

A Couple Notes on Charlotte

First, we know their folks desperately want to be Charlotte, not UNCC, so we’ve had fun with that old commuter-school moniker even though we’re forced to admit we’re really impressed with everything they’ve done in the last decade plus to transform their university, their campus, and of course their pulling the trigger on CUSA when offered. Second, just a question: Is there a city in America where the gap between the spin you hear from its residents about their city and the reality of that city if wider?

Official JMUSB Prediction

We’re not sure the talent or the coaching is necessarily all that far apart, but JMU is simply playing for more and will outscore the 49ers while potentially scaring us a bit about the D again. Dukes 38, UNCC 27

Oct 23 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Charlotte

charlotte stadiumThe bye week is behind us and the Dukes are ready to get back at it. JMU travels down to North Carolina to take on Charlotte this Saturday. It’s a chance to pick up where they left off against Towson and get another much needed W before the stretch run. As we do every game week, we’re running our prediction contest. It’s as simple as ever. Leave a comment 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. Easy as pie.

Oct 21 / Rob

Dukes Picked to Finish 5th and Andre Nation Gets 5 Game Suspension

THIS guy's coming back!

The 2014 CAA Basketball Media Day took place today in Baltimore. Northeastern was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the league. Like JMU, Northeastern only won 11 games last season. The Huskies were a young team though and they’ll be returning four starters, plus Quincy Ford, a double-digit scorer who missed all last season due to injury. William & Mary, led by Preseason CAA Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, was picked second. Hofstra and Drexel rounded out the top four, followed by our lovely alma mater in the fifth spot. The Dukes’ Andre Nation was also honored with a preseason All CAA first team selection. His teammate Ron Curry earned an honorable mention nod.

Preseason polls and all league teams are a fun reminder that the season is almost here, but they’re essentially meaningless. Many JMU fans were paying closer attention to events in Harrisonburg than in Baltimore today anyway. Because that’s where Andre Nation and Tom Vodanovich spent the day in court to face charges that resulted from their fight a few weeks ago. Nation’s assault & battery charges were dropped. The remaining charges will be dropped pending the completion of 60 hours of community service. Vodanovich also received community service in exchange for having his charges dropped. After the court’s decision, JMU officially announced that Nation’s suspension will last five games. Vodanovich’s will be two games.

Matt Brady issued a statement and stressed that Nation is no facing a “zero tolerance” policy. One more screw up, and Nation will be kicked off the team. Nation is undeniably talented. It’s also undeniable that he’s struggled to maintain his focus and has repeatedly made himself a distraction for the team. Both for the sake of Andre and the fans, we really hope he can put the off the court troubles behind him. We’re already elbow deep in “what if?” questions when it comes to JMU hoops under Matt Brady. We’d hate to add another one to that list.

Oct 21 / Rob

Fan Confidence Poll, Entering the Stretch Run

The Dukes played their best football of the season in a convincing 62-7 win over Towson prior to their bye week. But it was just one game. And now things are about to get interesting. JMU hits the road this weekend for a game at Charlotte. Then they’ll close with a rough four game CAA slate including home games against William & Mary and Elon, and a couple tough road trips at Richmond and Stony Brook. Thanks to the inconsistency displayed in the opening half of the season, Coach Withers and the team have their work cut out for them. The CAA schedule sets up in a way that the entire league could beat itself up and end some teams’ playoff dreams. Truth be told, there have been signs of improvement from week to week. There might be more reasons to be encouraged that the program is pointed in the right direction, than there are signs that the Dukes are playoff bound this year. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to ask. So, can the Dukes get hot at the right time and go on a run to earn a bid?

Oct 17 / Rob

This JMU Alum Just Got the Best Anniversary Gift Ever

JMU golf cart

Yes. That is a tricked out JMU golf cart. And it’s not some sort of vehicle for campus security. It’s the prized possession of one very proud JMU alum, Chris Harris. He sent us this picture with an explanation the other night. Chris met his wife while they were both students at JMU. They recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary and the lovely bride surprised him with the golf cart as a gift. Well done Mrs. Harris, well done. We might have the makings of a beautiful tradition here. Silver is the traditional gift for 25th anniversaries and it’s gold for 50th. Maybe now it can be college themed golf carts for 10th. Make it happen people.

Oct 16 / jmusport

Guest Post: Keep on Rootin’

Jonathan and Melissa-2

 

Jonathan won last week’s prediction contest and earned the right to guest post. You can follow him on Twitter at @JBear8990. Here’s his story about being born into a JMU family and rootin’ fer Dukes.  

First of all – thanks to Rob and Todd for writing the blog. It’s been a source of information, entertainment, and distraction from school over the years and I’ve really enjoyed it. Also thanks for the opportunity to post!

Starting out I didn’t want to tell my ‘JMU Story’ necessarily – because well we’ve seen plenty of that here, and people do love lists/countdowns – but I’m not any good at that stuff.  At the same time – we all have a JMU Story, and it’s a large part of why we root – so I’ll add some conference realignment thoughts in at the end to spice it up.

I grew up in a JMU household – my dad (Grover) finished in ’80 at JMU and my mom (Terry) attended VCU (which was essentially irrelevant when I was growing up) so we pulled for the Dukes in all things. But having the VCU influence did give us 2 great reasons to hate the University of Richmond. When I was 4, I made my dad miss Kent Culuko’s ‘shot’ in 1994 at the Richmond Coliseum because I had to go to the bathroom. My dad was kind enough to take me to the bathroom. I would probably have let my kid pee in his pants with the game that close. (We both attended and enjoyed the 2013 CAA Championship, which somewhat atoned for my bathroom mishap) We attended 1-2 home JMU football games a year and I always enjoyed my trips up to Bridgeforth as a kid. I even attended 2 of Mickey Matthews’ football camps. After the National Championship (!) we committed to season tickets and tailgating at JMU has been a weekly fall tradition for my family ever since. read more…

Oct 15 / Rob

Brandon Lee and Jimmy Effin Moreland Earn Weekly Honors

lee_jmuRaise your hand if a month ago you predicted that a JMU defender would earn player of the week honors sometime this season. OK, now stop lying. Brandon Lee, the Dukes’ redshirt senior d-lineman, was selected as the FCS Defensive Player of the Week by the Sportsnetwork. Lee had an outstanding game against an overmatched Towson Tigers squad. He finished with 5 tackles, two of which were sacks, a pass defended, and three forced fumbles. His efforts help lead a defensive line that has been slowly improving and is finally showing that it can get to the quarterback.

Not to be outdone, freshmen Jimmy Moreland, or Jimmy Effin Moreland as he’s know around these parts, was named CAA Rookie of the Week. Earlier this year been recognized as the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week. In Saturday’s win over Towson, Moreland blocked another FG attempt, racked up four tackles, and collected his team leading third interception of the season, which he returned for a TD. The freshman cornerback appears to be a star in the making. And the defense as a whole, while still far from dominant, is finally showing really signs of improvement.

Oct 11 / Todd

Dukes Dominate Towson 62-7

Making progress

Making progress

Hoo boy, what a day! For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dukes truly dominated a CAA opponent and gave us all a fun, easy-going afternoon to send us into the bye week and then the meat of the schedule with a 62-7 thrashing of Towson. As strange as it is to say, it really wasn’t even that close as the offense and special teams did leave quite a few points on the field, especially in the first half.

The Good

Look, the Dukes won 62-7, so while we do have items for The Bad and The Ugly, it’s safe to say we’re picking nits and most all of this game could be listed here. But a few things really stood out in a great way today. First, Brandon Lee and Sage Harold pretty much could’ve won this thing by themselves. Their pass rush wreaked the kind of destruction we haven’t seen since DJ Bryant. They had the sacks, pressures, and forced fumbles that blew the lid off the game and allowed their buddies Rhakeem Stallings (directly) and Jimmy Moreland (indirectly) to be gifted a couple easy TD’s. Seriously, when offense was throwing away chances in the first half and a game that felt like JMU was controlling seemed stuck at 13-0, these guys just took things into their own hands, creating the next two TD’s and sending this to the half at 27-0.

Jimmy ‘Effin Moreland – Seriously, we might have to rename The Good section of our gamers “The Jimmy Moreland.” What did he do today? Oh, just block another field goal early and then jump a route for a pick six. And both of those came when the game was, briefly, still a contest. If he can avoid injury and all types of Nationing, his ceiling seems as high as any Duke ever to play in Bridgeforth.

Vad Lee – He continues to develop in the offense and put our worst fears to rest. His running is surer and you can almost see him thinking through the passing game as his understanding grows. There are times he escapes the pocket and appears to have running room but keeps his eyes downfield for the better play. It can look frustrating against an overmatched opponent like Towson, but that kind of work could very well pay off later in the season when that space doesn’t exist against UR and W&M.

The Bad

Still missing a ton of tackles on D. JMU’s defensive gameplan looked rock solid today and guys were almost always in the right place to make a big play, but the missed/slipped tackles are still keeping opponent’s drives alive and costing the Dukes. Only Marlowe is reliable in that regard right now, though it should be noted we liked what we saw from a healthier Gage Steele and Jeremiah Wilson off the bench on the tackling front.

In a closer game, we probably would’ve put the kicking game in The Ugly, but the answers just may not be on the roster. After hitting the game-winner late against Albany last week, new PK Ryan Maglio missed the first extra point and a short field goal later (he also missed a 50 yarder but that’s on the coaches, not him, for even attempting it). We’re definitely in favor of sticking with Maglio right now, but this remains a scary element of this year’s team.

The Ugly

Targeting – For the second week in row, S Dean Marlowe was ejected after receiving a Targeting penalty. And this one was horseshit. He didn’t even come close to the falling receiver’s helmet when he hit him in the side. And of course the worst part is since it happened in the second half, he now has to sit out the first half of the Dukes’ next game at Charlotte. We don’t know if the CAA has the power to review these calls after the game to prevent the suspension, but given this in out-of-conference game against the 49ers, we’re not hopeful (though better against Charlotte than W&M). This penalty is a debacle right now at all levels of football, but at the FCS and lower levels where there is no replay of the calls, the ejection/suspension is entirely too steep a penalty for questionable calls. Remember at the FBS level, the refs can review the play immediately (the call always stands as a personal foul, but the ejection – and subsequent suspension – can be reversed).

Towson – Dang it was nice to have the Towson St. we all knew and loved all those years at the bottom of the conference back. Really hard to believe the Tigers were in Frisco just this past January. Losing Terrence West is obviously huge, but what a dropoff. Make no mistake, JMU played well today and took their chances well, but this Towson team is terrible.

Up Next

The Dukes have a bye this week before traveling to Charlotte for their last out-of-conference (and boy does it feel waaaay out of conference these days) of the year in two weeks. Hopefully they can keep up the positive performances of these last two games. And hopefully we’ll have a large road-game turnout from one of JMU’s most overlooked alumni strongholds. Go Dukes!