The Dukes welcome the Blue Chickens to Bridgeforth today. The game is at 1:30 for the Family Weekend crowd and you can tune in via Madizone. The Dukes enter the game at 3-1 and a perfect 1-0 in CAA play. Holding serve at home is a big deal if JMU expects to contend for the league title. And quite frankly, it’s just always fun to beat the Chickens. Consider this your open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter.
How the heck is it Week 5 already?! Seriously, this train is well on its way to what we hope is a long-desired playoff victory. But first, the Dukes welcome those old pain-in-the-ass Blue Chickens to the ‘Burg in what feels a lot like the first true test of the season. Don’t get us wrong, Delaware sucks – as a state, a tax haven, a team with old-school uniforms that no one actually cares they may or may not have been the first to use, and most of all as an underachieving CAA all-sports “rival” that acts like they’re somehow an academic powerhouse even though no state flagship in the nation is more associated with the term safety school than UD. But they absolutely 100% do bring a legitimate physical challenge to Bridgeforth tomorrow. Make no mistake, the Dukes won that odd game after the Vad injury last year because the Chickens weren’t ready for primetime and possibly because their coaching staff and scheme are stuck in the 1980’s but not because JMU in any way “dominated” Delaware up front. This is going to be an old-fashioned bloodbath.
Delaware Blue Chickens (2-1, 0-0 CAA and of course off another bye week #CAA4lyfe!) at James Madison Dukes (3-1, 1-0 CAA), 1:30 p.m. Kickoff, Zane Showker Field at Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA
Weather: Looking dicey, but should be improving by kickoff and a decent fall day as the game moves along. Also, always sunny in P-Lot (and the new D-Lot!)
Coverage: Haha, #CAA4lyfe! Despite the fact that this game should be one of CAA Football’s marquee matchups of the season, you won’t find this anywhere but our beloved MadiZone. But if you haven’t already, be prepared to be impressed by the color work of JMU Student Adam Coolbaugh (@CoolbawSports) along with the man the myth Curt Dudley.
How Delaware Can Win
By slowing the game down, winning the line of scrimmage, and preventing big plays mostly the same way they did last year. JMU HBC Mike Houston made clear this week that Tarholes aside, UD is the biggest, most physical team the Dukes will have seen so far, and they might be the toughest team at the line of scrimmage the Dukes will see the rest of the regular season. Honestly, the Dukes struggled at UD last year big-time, but UD’s youth, inexperience, and utter lack of a passing game kept them from distancing themselves and Schor/Ravenel found a way in the end. The Dukes cannot rely on that again this time around.
How JMU Can Win
By matching the Chickens’ physicality up front on both sides of the ball and finding ways to let their system, their athletes, and their vastly superior coaching and air attack take over in the second half. The Dukes need to avoid the mistakes they made at UNC and the lulls they allowed in their own intensity at Maine and put together a complete game. UD is strong, but the Dukes are more talented and they have a QB and a coaching staff with a modern definition of the forward pass on their side.
Dukes DB #14 Taylor Reynolds. Taylor is one of the Dukes’ best players and highest NFL potential players this year. He’s also one of the last great Mickey recruits and certainly the one that made the old teddy bear smile the most when he stole the all-everything QB from UD’s hometown of Newark, DE at the last minute. His freshman year up at the pisswall, er, we mean Tubby Raymond Stadium, he overcame a ton of JMU-fan criticism to make a huge interception and there’s no doubt after missing the game in Canada last week with the flu, he’ll be itching to prove one last time how smart his decision was to abandon that hellhole for all the glory of the Valley.
Beer of the Week
Bell’s Quinannan Falls Special Lager Beer – We can respect our guest poster’s wish for an everyman beer this week while still staying true to a sense of actual taste. Ha. Michigan’s Bell’s has been in the vanguard of the beer explosion in the U.S. for years and this is an exceptional offering from the upper midwest. It’s also one of the best “gateway” beers for the AB-InBev/Miller/Coors sheeple out there. If you like regular-ass beer, you’ll love this ‘un.
Official JMUSB Prediction
Dukes 31, Chickens 17 – Sorry UD, we respect your potential, but until we see a passing game, in Houston we trust!
Like most of you, we’re squarely focused on the JMU vs. UD game this weekend. While we don’t want to distract anyone from rootin on Saturday, we’d like to take a sneak peek towards next week. Because next week is officially JMU Duke Club Week. And our fine friends from the Duke Club asked us to help get the word out. read more…
The Dukes got CAA play started last weekend with a tough road win at Maine. This week JMU welcomes its old pal Delaware to the ‘burg for another CAA clash. The Blue Chickens will bring a stout defense, a capable running game, and something that sort of resembles a passing attack if you squint and look at it just right. Regardless, JMU vs. UD is always a fun game and a match-up we look forward to every single year. And we’d like to know how you think the game will play out. Leave a comment with your prediction for the game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. Easy as pie.
ShadyP won our prediction contest last week and earned the right to guest post. Here’s his take on the game, the gameday and JMU football in general.
There is no better weather in Harrisonburg that October, especially for football. You can get a nice crisp morning and cool evening, but the days are beautiful and perfect for FOOTBALL. So get out there and enjoy these 3, count’em 3 home football games we have at JMU this October. This month is very important and can set JMU up very nicely come playoff time. read more…
Simeyon Robinson – Absolutely dominant performance. Took over the game in the second half and wrecked Maine’s interior offensive line and psyche. We’ve seen flashes over the last few seasons, but this was DJ Bryant/Arthur Moat-ish in terms of taking over a game from the D-Line.
Defense – The group that showed up in the second half is the group we can only hope we’ll see the rest of the season. Adjustments were clearly made at a top-notch level in the locker room.
QB Pressure – Amazing how much easier the game becomes when you apply pressure to the QB. See the two notes above, but the interceptions that turned the game all came as a result of pressure on the QB. It did seem JMU had to dial up some blitzes to finally get going, but Robinson got going even without the extra rushers later and hopefully that continues.
John Miller – This game was really about the D and the offense was disappointing for huge swaths of the game, but WR John Miller deserves special mention. He showed up from the get-go and made a great catch in the first half before his score in traffic in the second. The depth at the receiver position is fantastic.
The running game – Even on a day it “felt” like the Dukes were struggling offensively and throwing cute passes too much, Abdullah ended with 172 and Johnson went well over 100 and both scored. Do not sleep on this team’s ability to wear people down and pound ’em late.
Maine’s preparation – Not often we mention an opponent in the recap, and they were coming off a bye (more on this later), but the Black Bears’ staff had a GREAT gameplay and their squad executed it to a tee for about 40 minutes. At some point, though, too much Abdullah and Johnson and the Robinson explosion was just too much for them.
That color commentator – unintelligible enthusiasm? We’ll take it. As opposed to that Stony Brook clown on NBCSN, this guy’s clear prep made his producer’s-nightmare volume shifts tolerable and funny. If we have him again, we’ll definitely come up with a drinking game for his signature style.
Whatever defense is ending up so much with MLB Kyrie Hawkins covering deep downfield. Hawkins is a stud and we love him, but last week at UNC and again this week he’s somehow ended up covering guys 30 yards downfield and that spells trouble. Someone smarter than us can probably explain the scheme, but that is terrifying.
Simplicity of the passing game – Domo Taylor was pretty much taken out of the game by that stud Maine DB and the Black Bears were clearly well prepped for our bubble screen game. The Dukes seemed to have no other arrows in the passing game quiver. We may be wrong, but it sure looks like Schor is in command enough to handle opening up the playbook a tad more in the air attack.
That first 35 minutes – 800 mile trip, opponent off a bye, tiny stadium/high school atmosphere after two weeks at BFS and a week in Chapel Hill, noon kick. All true, but we’re really hoping the Dukes learned they need to get off the bus ready to roll from now on. After RU’s loss to Stony Brook last week and William & Mary’s home debacle against Elon this week, it’s pretty clear there are no layups in the CAA this year. Gotta be ready.
The CAA setting JMU up to play THREE teams off their bye weeks, including this one and this next week against the Blue Chickens. JMU isn’t leaving the CAA in our lifetimes and that’s obvious to everyone at this point, so the league office can probably stop taking the realignment noise out on the Dukes at this point.
The Dukes have made the 800 mile trip up to Maine and are ready to play some football. Coming off a tough loss at UNC, JMU will attempt to get to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in CAA play. Maine on the other hand, is still looking for its first win of the season. Kickoff is at 12 noon. Consider this your official open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter.
So about that old anti-FBS argument about the CAA’s cozy little footprint…just kidding. But seriously, trips to Orono, Maine have never been easy on the Dukes. Noon starts after that much travel are never easy for any team. And noon starts after that much travel when the host is coming off a bye is a special level of torture the CAA just loves to reserve for “the mob at JMU.”
JMU (2-1, 0-0 CAA) at Maine (0-2, 0-0 CAA) High Noon Saturday, Harold Alfond Sports Stadium, Orono, Maine.
Weather: Sunny, a very crisp 60 (morning low of 39!), and a 12 mph breeze outta Canada. Should be quite a pleasant change from last weekend’s third level of hell.
TV: American Sports Network. So this is the first ASN-produced game of the year and you’ll have to trust us on two things. One, it’s on your guide somewhere. Two, it’s on a spot on your guide that you have never ever ever noticed college football before and there is no consistency between markets as to where on your guide the game is located. Just look around or try and decipher the explanation on the Black Bears’ website.
How the Black Bears Can Win
Ride the momentum of their new era (new coaching staff, new pro-tailgating gameday policies), the extra week of preparation the CAA seems intent on screwing the Dukes with, and take advantage of a team on an 800 mile trip with a noon start to a lead and then find a way to slow JMU down enough in the second half to set up a repeat of one of the more heartbreaking finishes in Dukes history (you know the 2-pt. conversion we’re talking about, ugh).
Also, don’t let the Bears’ 0-2 record deceive you. They’ve played two FBS games, albeit against Toledo and UConn teams the Dukes may very well have beaten, but it’s hard to know any more about Maine’s overall quality from those two games than it is from the three contests the Dukes have played against two crappy teams and UNC. Maine almost pulled it off against UConn too, falling only 24-21. Senior LB Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga has had huge numbers in both games and leads an always tough Maine Defense. He’s going to need to equal his 12 tackles per game or more likely exceed that with more help from his teammates to shut down the Dukes’ running game, but the Black Bears are always a hard-nosed group capable of mucking up a game, slowing the clock down and generally ruining your day.
How JMU Can Win
Get off the plane ready to play, warm up as if it’s 50k plus at UNC not 7k plus in Nova Scotia, and do their damn jobs. It’s really that simple. Look, Maine is legit CAA competition with two weeks to prepare and 15 returning starters, but what we’ve seen from the Dukes so far makes us believe that if JMU plays its best, they should win this game going away. Defensively, JMU needs to find a pass rush and stop looking into the backfield, thus making itself susceptible to trick plays that have hurt the Dukes, both recently and historically against this particular opponent. Offensively, just keep hammering away and running your stuff. With two weeks to prepare, Maine is almost certain to stack the box against JMU’s fearsome run game so this may be the perfect time to start fully employing the services of the talented and extremely deep receiving corps. Alls, Davis, Hyman?, Ravenel, Kloos, Domo, etc. Spread it around and see what happens if Maine dares you to do so.
Beer of the Week
Maine Beer Company’s “Zoe” Amber Ale – Pretty sure we’ve highlighted Maine Beer Co.’s “Lunch” IPA before and there would be nothing at all wrong with Lunch for a noon kick, but a barely-60-degree day in Maine in October is a reminder we live in the South and that in a few weeks we’ll get to enjoy sweatshirt weather ourselves and sets itself up perfectly for Fall’s best style, the Amber Ale (what, you thought we’d give in and allow for a certain gourd in our beer?! You know us better than that mushy nonsense).
Official JMUSB Prediction
Dukes 42, Black Bears 27 – This is going to be the first true four-quarter tussle JMU will have played, but if the Dukes can avoid turnovers and play their games, they can pull away in the second half. We respect Maine, and in general we believe the CAA is deep in an old-school kind of way this year, but we also – for the moment – truly believe Coach Houston and his staff is capable of doing more with the talent advantage JMU has enjoyed for a decade plus than either of his predecessors and this is the first week to show it! Rootin’
Alright folks. Here we go. After three out of conference games to start the 2016 season, it’s about to get real. The JMU Dukes open CAA play with a game way up in Orono against the Maine Black Bears. We don’t really know what to make of Maine, a team that enters the game 0-2 and coming off a bye. Both losses were to FBS teams. It doesn’t really matter though. Going up to Maine is always a tough road trip.
We want to know how you think this game will play out. Leave a comment with your prediction and the person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it. So get to it. And keep rootin!
Last week Brandon Newbill came closest to picking the winner & score for JMU’s game, so he won our prediction contest. As a result, he got to write a guest post. Here it is.
To keep with the recent guest post trends of being positive instead of highlighting our administration’s apparent apathy towards FBS, our struggling pass rush, or the fact that the Buffalo Bills look as horrible as ever, I’d like to share a story that melds together two great road trips; one to Chattanooga in 2004, and one to Chapel Hill in 2016.
I have always enjoyed road trips for JMU sports. From my junior year drive down to ‘Nooga for the National Championship to the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament (you may have seen me, I was the idiot who’s ex-girlfriend made him wear the yellow teletubby costume), I’ve always been ready and willing to hit the road to support the Dukes. This past weekend was no different.
Myself and a long-time friend and JMU alum hit the road from Richmond and went to visit another long-time friend and JMU alum (and his wife, who went to UMASS but proudly rocked her JMU attire) in his newly purchased Durham home. It certainly made attending the UNC game much easier having a friend within uber distance of UNC’s campus! While taking the tour of my buddy’s new home, something oh so sweet captured my eyes on the wall in one of the extra bedrooms. Behold, the most beautiful lump of dirt these eyes have ever seen!
For those who can’t figure it out, that’s one of the hundreds of giant lumps of turf from the field in ‘Nooga back in ’04. Instantly, my mind started racing with flashbacks of just how awesome that trip was. Tailgating with some very pleasant and moonshine-bearing Montana fans, seeing a giant church van pull up next to our tailgate spot and have about ten of my buddies drunkenly spill out of the back, watching Rascati become a JMU legend, storming the field after the win, and champagne in the parking lot!
The truth is, as sweet as that memory was, it could have been so much sweeter if more of my friends and fellow alums would have made the trip. The point I want to get across is quite simple: Make the trip Dukes!!! It’s easy as we get older to find excuses not to go. “My kid has a soccer game”. “I need to cut the grass”. “I have to work”. “Obama”. But I promise you, even on the bad trips, you come home with memories that are well worth it. It was so cold in Boone, NC in 2007, I had to chisel the beers out of my frozen cooler, all just to watch JMU fumble away its national championship hopes on quite possibly the worst offensive play call in JMU history. You know what I remember most from that trip? That was one of the last trips I got to make two friends of mine that are now too busy adulting to do much of anything.
Make the trip Dukes, it’s worth it!
Brandon Newbill, Class of 2006