Sep 21 / jmusport

Guest Post: Countdown to College Gameday?

John Engel won last week’s prediction contest in a tiebreaker and earned the right to guest post. Here’s his piece on the state of JMU football from the students’ perspective.

The countdown to Gameday clock ticked slowly and slowly down, the quad was filled with so many people and so much energy it almost felt as if it was alive. My two friends around me were passed out face down into the grass, from exhaustion of course (too much Busch) Finally 6 A.M came and it was a mad rush to get in line to get your ticket to be in the pit, the place you want to be when college Gameday comes to your campus. I can still remember Chris Fowler’s introduction, it gives me chills to this day whenever I rewatch it on youtube which happens a few times a week. I still remember the incredible tailgate and the unbelievable crowd (We wont talk about the actual game) that was my freshman year, two incredible years have flown by since then, which have included a National Championship victory and now a season in which the Dukes look primed to contend again for a spot in Frisco. Before I could be camping out on the quad waiting to bask in one of the greatest days in JMU history, before I could root on the Dukes all the way to Frisco and watch them dominate the Penguins, I have a small backstory.

I was born and raised in the heart of SEC country, Columbia South Carolina. Most of my family attended South Carolina, and for most of my childhood I grew up going to watch the gamecocks play football a few times every year. From a young age I was immersed in SEC football and SEC culture, which I carried with me throughout my childhood. My parents moved to Virginia when I was in elementary school but USC always remained my dream school until I realized the brutal costs of paying for out of state tuition, so I decided on JMU, not exactly thrilled about it, but after my first FROG week, meeting some of my best friends in Potomac Hall, and of course attending the crazy tailgates and the unbelievable Bridgeforth stadium I realized this was home. Lastly, I just want to say this, There will always be people in the background finding something to complain about, or even wanting more, whether it is a bigger stadium, a move to the FBS, a better game day experience, etc etc, all I have to say to those people is to hell with you, embrace what is happening right now at JMU, this is a special time for not only our football program but for our university as a whole, we have a chance of getting college Gameday twice in three years, a chance of competing in Frisco for a back to back, and we have beaten two FBS programs in three seasons. Our program is doing special things so i suggest you get on the Mike Houston Train! because with or without you were locking the damn gates for the ENTIRE season and were throwing away the key! I’ll be out there rooting hard this saturday and I want all of JMU nation rooting with me! Thanks for taking the time for reading my little article and lastly, JMU… DUKESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Sep 20 / Rob

New JMUSB Rootin’ T-Shirts

We added some great new shirts to the JMUSB merch collection. They’re Rootin’ shirts and we think you’re really going to like them. They are available right now over in our shop on Like the LTDG shirts, the new Rootin’ shirts were designed by our buddy Ben Markowitz. They’re available in both purple and gold, and both women’s and men’s sizes. Perfect for anyone who roots and wants the world to know.

Sep 20 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Maine

Now the real fun begins. After 3 tune-up games (yes, we’re counting ECU as a tune-up), the Dukes finally get CAA play started this weekend with a home game agains the Maine Black Bears. It’s a team that has given JMU fits in the past, and should provide the toughest test of this season thus far.

We want to know how you think the game will play out. Leave a comment below with your prediction. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score), will get to write a guest post. And if we have a tie, like we did last week, we’ll come up with some sort of fair tie-breaker. Just trust us. Pretty simple, right? Now give us your prediction and Go Dukes!

Sep 19 / Rob

JMUSB: RIP Uncle Ron and Another Football Win

In the latest episode of the JMUSB Podcast, we talk about the passing of Dr. Ronald Carrier and discuss his legacy. He was a great man and he’ll be missed. We also break down the Dukes easy win over NSU and take a look forward to CAA play beginning this weekend. We also touch on Mickey Dean’s departure and finally go off topic for some television talk, during which Todd reveals that one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time is actually not very good.

Sep 17 / Todd

Dukes Cruise Past Norfolk St. On Unfathomably Bad Day

Whole lotta sore streamer arms after this one.

The Dukes did about what we expected on the scoreboard this weekend by destroying a Norfolk St. team that appeared to want zero part of the nation’s best 75-14. But the story on the day was about two of JMU’s talented stable of running backs. First, Cardon Johnson suffered an injury that looked serious. And then, heartbreakingly, JMU Nation learned after the game that Trai Sharp’s father, who had been ill back in North Carolina, passed away during the game in which his stun starred. Nothing else really matters after you hear something like that and the mood around the program was obviously somber despite the offensive fireworks.

On Sharp, we’re just fans and we’re not going into that here because we don’t know anything more than what Coach Houston said postgame, players have tweeted out, and the DNR’s Greg Madia covered much better than we ever could. Our hearts go out to Trai and his family and it’s a stark reminder that while we all love the entire show that JMU Football has become, it’s still just a game.

Cardon Injured

It was a tough moment to watch when Cardon Johnson went down in the 2nd quarter. Although he’s battled Achilles issues throughout his career, watching him at ECU a couple weeks ago gave us all hope that he’d follow in Khalid’s footsteps and was set up for the kind of year that lands you NFL Training Camp invites. We don’t know the extent of Cardon’s injury, but if it requires surgery again who knows what that means. While a medical redshirt sure seems possible given the small amount of gametime this year, Mr. Johnson has also gotta be thinking about his own long-term health at this point and we’re left to wonder if we’ve sadly seen the last of 2-5. Well, other than standing on the bench winging a purple towel around in Frisco in January of course!

Kloo Back

In better news, it sure was great to see Senior Tight End Jonathan Kloosterman back on the field. Not only did he look like he’s ready to pick up right where he left off last year as a dominant force over the middle and in the red zone, but when the Dukes run he and Nick Carlton out there together, that’s a scary new Patriots-esque wrinkle for opposing defenses going forward. Ish Hyman had to miss the game with a small injury, but is reportedly likely back next week and when Terrance Alls rejoins the corps in two more weeks, the offense will only get better.

Finally the Reserves

It took Coach Houston longer than many fans would’ve liked to truly empty the bench, but we all got a look at many of the backups for their first extended run in the second half of this laugher. And the view was pretty spectacular. One notable entry was certainly seeing Cole Johnson, and Houston’s [in our opinion justified and smart] disdain for the redshirt. Same goes for true freshman RB Percy Abyei-Obese who scored late. And all that doesn’t even include freshman TE Clayton Cheatem rumbling for a 47 TD to extend the family legacy a bit. The cupboard is full!

75 Points Makes Us Happy for a Duke in Need

As many of you know, we’ve been trying to raise money and awareness for a small group of National Park Service employees from Virgin Islands National Park on St. John the last few days. One of them, a JMU alum and friend-of-a-friend-of-JMUSB lost her house, her livelihood and most everything she owned. We’re thrilled to donate $75 to the relief fund for her department. Huge thanks to the Dukes that matched us, gave a little, and of course our one huge pledge of $10/point (maybe he didn’t know what JMU/NSU was likely to be but we love it!). But there’s still time to reach our goal of 50 pledges of $5 or more with a “Go Dukes” message on the site for which we’ll throw in another $50 so join us this week in learning Emily’s story and help someone who really needs it and bleeds purple!

In Other JMU Athletics News, a Mix of Emotions After Losing Another Head Coach

Volleyball finished out-of-conference play 9-0. While our favorite program, the Field Hockey Dukes, have struggled with big-name opponents, they’re in the Top 20 and off to a great start. Both soccer teams are making noise. Tennis and Cross Country have seen big results early. And of course our girl Gabby Weiss and the golf team are throwing darts out there.

But near-legendary-despite-only-five-years-in-the-Valley Softball Coach Mickey Dean dropped a bombshell on the most feel-good program at JMU over the last few years when he announced unexpectedly on Friday that he was leaving to become the Head Coach at Auburn. Assistant Coach Loren LaPorte was immediately announced as the Interim Head Coach for the rest of this year although AD Jeff Bourne noted that while she’ll be a candidate, a full search will be conducted after next season. The players appeared to take it in stride and it’s certainly not bad that Coach LaPorte and the squad will have Megan Good back in the circle for her senior campaign, but it’s tough reminder of the part of the FBS discussion that we forget amidst football’s success at the FCS level. Like Kenny Brooks before him, not only is the money tough to turn down, but there’s a glass ceiling when you’re coming out of the CAA. Bottom line is Coach Dean rightly knows he can win a National Championship out of the SEC – where by the way athletes in all sports receive the Full Cost of Attendance stipends – where even when you win 50 games the NCAA won’t give you a seed or a regional most years out of the CAA. Perception can be reality know matter how much we wish it were otherwise when the entire Athletic program seems on the right track lately.

Sep 16 / Rob

Gameday: JMU vs. Norfolk State

It’s another beautiful Saturday afternoon in the ‘burg. The Dukes and NSU Spartans are set to kick-off at 3:30. Most fans aren’t expecting this one to be much of a contest, but you never know. And despite two comfortable wins on the season thus far, there’s still progress to be made before CAA play begins next week.

We realize that with Twitter, the concept of an open thread is probably past it’s prime. But whatever. We’re creatures of habit and part of our gameday routine is choosing a song to embed in a post and then settling in to root. If y’all want to chat in the comments, have at it. If you’d rather just watch, that’s cool too. We’ll be taking this one in from our respective couches and we’ll have a post gamer up tomorrow, followed by a Monday night podcast.

In the meantime. Lock the Damn Gates! Keep Rootin! Go Dukes!

Sep 14 / Rob

JMUSB Game Preview #3 – Norfolk State at JMU

JMU wraps up the out of conference portion of its schedule this Saturday when the Dukes welcome the (Googles it) Spartans of Norfolk State University (NSU) to the ‘burg. It’s another chance for JMU to work out some kinks and get prepared for when CAA play starts next week. If it sounds like we’re looking ahead and chalking this one up as a W, there’s a simple explanation. It’s because we’re looking ahead and chalking this one up as a W.

All kidding aside, it’s nice to see NSU on the schedule. Yes, NSU doesn’t seem to be quite up to JMU’s level, but we’d personally much rather see JMU play another in-state team, than some random NEC squad. And NSU’s head coach Latrell Scott, served as JMU’s tight ends coach under Mickey Matthews, so he’s got JMU ties. He also used to coach the Spiders, which is a bit of a red flag on any resume.

The Basics

Match-up: #1 JMU Dukes 2-0 vs. NSU Spartans 0-2
Kick-off: 3:300 PM on Saturday, September 16 in Bridgeforth Stadium
Weather: Clear skies with highs in the low 80s
Broadcast: Televised on MASN2 and Streaming (outside of VA) via Madizone

How We Got Here

The Dukes defeated ETSU 52-10 last weekend to move to 2-0 for the season. It was JMU’s 14th win in a row, the longest active streak in D1 football. Bryan Schor threw for over 300 yards and 5 TDs. And the defense completely dominated ETSU, limiting them to only 3 offensive points. The running game was uncharacteristically off after an outstanding performance in the season opener against ECU. Through two games JMU has played well, but is still looking for a game where all phases find their “A game.”

NSU on the other hand, comes into the game slightly less hot than the Dukes. The Spartans lost to William & Mary by the score of 20-6. Against the Tribe, NSU struggled to find any sort of rhythm, converting only 3 of 13 third downs and surrendering 5 sacks. With the loss, NSU fell to 1-14-1 versus CAA teams.

Prior to the W&M game, NSU played Virginia State from Division II. And they lost. They played a legit 60 minute football game with real refs, a stadium, scoreboard, and all the trimmings, along with a team full of Division II players. And again, they lost. Saturday might not go well for them. read more…

Sep 14 / Todd

Dukes Helping Dukes

Emily, her dog, and what’s left of her house. Notice the brown in the background of what is normally an idyllic green island.

Long-time readers know that once a year or so Rob and I try to leverage our amazing community (that’s you Dukes!) to help out on the philanthropy side with things that are important to us. We ain’t the Gates Foundation, or even Barstool, but the power of the collective that this labor-of-love project has given us is nothing short of life-affirming at times. We’ve focused on Autism research and more recently, former Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley’s bone marrow foundation, Be the Match.

After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas a few weeks back we discussed whether to jump in. As many of you know – and many of you have already contributed for sure – there were/are a ton of organizations working after Harvey, and subsequently Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, on relief and assistance efforts. The good work is being done by huge, essential work from the Red Cross and large faith-based groups down to countless numbers of smaller charities and aid groups. In the end, we simply didn’t see an entry point for something beyond our minuscule individual contributions that made sense for JMUSB. Until yesterday.

An old friend of JMUSB posted something on FB that caught our attention. She’ll get proper credit eventually, but she’s a teacher and we want to make sure she’s cool with us posting her name. She posted: “I’ve known Emily Guss since college and it hurts me to the core to see her go through another tragedy. She is one of the many people affected by Hurricane Irma in the Virgin Islands that has lost everything.” And she linked to this GoFundMe Site. Of course we clicked and heard Emily’s incredible rescue story.

Emily’s name rang a bell from our time at JMU and we started checking around. Turns out our old friend had found her way to St. John where she became an Interpretive Park Ranger at Virgin Islands National Park for the National Park Service. While it’s easy to say something like “ah, those lucky bastards who move to the islands don’t need a bailout,” we happen know a few other things too. First, NPS Interpreters make like 30k annually and certainly aren’t a group of fat cats. More importantly, Emily is the real deal and she’s had a really tough go of it lately. That’s not for us to go into, but when she says she “hates to ask for help,” we know she means it. Her own FB post (yes, we are editing this to stick to the mission and protect the innocent ha) explains this much better than we can:

Friends & family…I’ve been asked by many of you about how you can help me…I thought it would be easiest to answer all at 1 time! I hate to ask for help…but I could definitely use it now!
1. First of all, your friendship means more to me than anything…especially love, encouragement, support, & strength during this difficult time. I will need you…& I greatly appreciate you!
2. Two sweet friends, [names redacted] started a gofundme for me & my division at the park. There are 5 of us in the interpretive division…3 of us lost everything. The link is on my page.
3. Send me cards, letters…& chocolate! The park address here is 2100 Church St. #100, Christiansted VI 00820
4. Please donate to the whole community of St John.

Obviously we haven’t been able to talk with Emily, and honestly she’d probably never remember us to begin with, but we did enough checking around with our mutual friends to know Emily’s a true Duke worthy of the JMU Nation’s love and support (and that we’re confident the friends that set up the page are legit). And of all the things we can do to help after these devastating storms, a small gesture supporting a place (St. John) that means the world to me and my family and may be overlooked relative to Texas and Florida, a group of employees at one of the government’s best endeavors (NPS), and a Duke Dog at that, was an absolute no-brainer.

So here’s how we’re going to do our tiny part. JMUSB is going to give $1 for every point scored by the Dukes against Norfolk St. this week. Yes, we hope that’ll be a lotta points! If you can do the same, awesome. But every little bit helps. What we’d really love is to get a whole bunch of small donations on that page with a “Go Dukes!” message to let Emily and her friends know JMU cares. If that page gets up to 50 individual donations of $5 or more in the next week with a “Go Dukes!” message written in, we’ll add another $50 to our point-total donation. So if the Dukes score 100 and 50 people give $5 and write “Go Dukes!” we’ll make it $150.

Oh yeah, maybe in addition to the cards, letters and chocolate, send Emily some purple and gold greetings! As always, Go Dukes!

Sep 13 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. NSU

The Dukes have an in-state contest with Norfolk State University this weekend. JMU should be heavily favored in this one and it will likely be just another tune-up prior to CAA play. Or is it a trap game? We’ll see.

Once again, it’s time for our prediction contest. You should know how it works by now, but here’s an explanation just in case. Leave a comment below with your prediction for the game. The person who comes closes to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. And remember to please use a real email address you actually check, so we can contact you (we still haven’t heard back from last week’s winner). That’s it. Now give us your prediction for Saturday’s game and Go Dukes!

Sep 12 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Dukes Win Big and Around the FCS

We’re back with another episode of your favorite podcast a free podcast you can listen to. In this episode we discuss the Dukes 52-10 win over ETSU, try to figure out if we know anything at all after two weeks of FCS play, and then get way ahead of ourselves breaking down which teams need to lose in order to make College Gameday in the Burg 2.0 happen. Finally we go a little off topic with some USMNT footie talk. It won’t hurt you to listen. You might even enjoy it.

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