Oct 21 / jmusport

Guest Post: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem

aaaaa-lockerDrake won last week’s prediction contest and earned the right to guest post. Here are some of thought on the state of the problem under Coach Houston.

For the first time this season, and the 3rd time in the past 2 season, I won the prediction contest. I tied with a fellow reader a few weeks ago, but he/she picked the JMU score correct, so he/she technically won. This past week, I was the first comment and was only 1 point off with a 42-38 score. Leading off with all of this is just to say, I’m kind of a big deal. Wait, who am I kidding. I just basically go with a decent looking score. There’s no talent involved. Of course, I love bragging to my wife about this, but it just adds to her time spent making the “I don’t give a shit” look. And for some reason, these wonderful people who take their precious time, let us write incoherent ramblings. For this, I’d like to say thanks. Like many of you, I look forward to each post and count on it to get hyped for gameday. They give us a place to celebrate, bitch, and come together with fellow JMU fans (and the occasional troll). So while we may not all agree on where JMU is headed this season or in the future, we can all agree that this is one fantastic blog/community. Now, on to the in depth analysis.

I love coach Houston. He reminds me a whole lot of the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Dan Quinn. Now, most of you might not be familiar if you live outside the Atlanta area. We don’t get a lot of national attention and for good reason. There’s never been a big culture of winning and toughness in this city. Coach Quinn is slowly changing that. Coach Houston is doing the same thing. He’s not over the top, he’s not trying too hard to connect with the younger generation, and he’s straightforward.
Mickey Matthews, at times, was stuck in his ways and more worried about using some old farmer saying as a press conference one liner. Coach Withers was more worried about offensive stats, and the “bright lights”. We won’t know for 2 or 3 years what affect Coach truly has on the team, but so far, he’s done great with what he has. As a previous article I read mentioned, he has some players that have been under 3 coaches, and coordinators. That’s a tough spot, but yet they have kept winning. The defense has it’s gaping holes, yes. Some statistics and rankings are up from last year, including 3rd down conversions. Halftime adjustments have been positive, minus last week’s Chernobyl size melt down.
All of this is to say, we are in a good place. Playing Richmond on the road is typically good for us. You don’t have to worry about raucous crowds at either road venue that’s left, the distance isn’t terrible, and we have a history of winning at both stadiums. I’m confident that when it all shakes out, winning 3 out of 4 could get us a top 4 seed, especially if one of those wins is Richmond. I know I’ll be at the final game this season, making the trip up I85, to 29, and finally that sweet stretch of I81. The crowd may possibly be lighter of students since it’s just beginning their Thanksgiving break, but I’m excited. A huge playoff spot could be on the line, the weather will be perfect, and I finally scored some sweet lower level tickets thanks to my generous JMU loving parents. We may have things to complain about, but consider ourselves lucky. We consistently rank top 5 in FCS attendance (often times beating out many FBS schools), have been ranked in the top 10 most weeks in the past 2 years, and have a Quarterback that is easing the transition from an amazing player we lost (Vad the Impaler). Soak up the next 4 games, let your fingernails grow during the bye week, so they can last the final games, and keep wearing purple.
Oct 20 / Rob

JMU Football Fan Confidence Poll

schor-vs-tribeWe’re smack in the middle of the Dukes’ bye week, so we thought it would be a good time to take the pulse of the fanbase. JMU currently sits atop the CAA Football standings with a perfect 4-0 record in league play. The Dukes are 6-1 overall, with a loss on the road to the ACC’s North Carolina Tarheels. The offense, behind QB Bryan Schor, has been very impressive. It’s a balanced attack thanks to some outstanding offensive line play. The run game features the downright dangerous duo of Khalid Abdullah and Cardon Johnson. And Schor has a number of talented receivers catching the ball including Brandon Ravenel and Terrance Alls. The unit is averaging over 500 yards and 44.2 points per game, both league bests.

And then we have the defense. Its per play averages are nearly the same as last year’s disappointing unit. At times, the defense has looked vastly improved. Other times, it looks like a repeat of 2015. One positive sign is that this year’s D can get off the field. Under Everett Withers the JMU defense let opponents convert 45.7% of 3rd downs. That was the worst in the league. This year, JMU is only letting opponents convert 37.5% of 3rd downs. As a unit, the D has managed to put the clamps on the opponent for stretches, but not a full 60 minutes most weeks. It really seems to have developed the absolutely ugly habit of going to sleep once the offense gets out to a lead. Whether or not its simply a case of losing focus, or a sign of major problems is still to be determined.

In short, the offense has been better than most fans expected. The defense has show flashes, but its disappearing act has many concerned. 6-1 and 4-0 in CAA play with two very tough games at Richmond and at Nova remaining. Barring some sort of catastrophe against Rhode Island or Elon and it’s safe to say the Dukes are playoff bound. In fact, if they win out, they’ll be in the running for a top 4 seed.

We think things are looking up. But we’re curious how you feel. Vote in our poll to let us know how confident you are in the Dukes’ chances going forward. It’s a scale from 1 – utter disaster to 10 – championship.

Oct 17 / Todd

Dukes Pick Up Huge Win in New Hampshire (And Barely Avoid Catastrophe)

Phew! Everyone exhale a bit after that near debacle in the last ten minutes. But once we all take a step back and look at the big picture, no matter how you look at the mistakes down the stretch, the end result is the same: a HUGE win for the Dukes in a really tough place to play that sets them up for the bye week, the midseason scrimmage against URI for Homecoming, and then the two major tests of the season at Richmond and Villanova.

The Good

On the big picture side first, the Dukes snapped UNH’s 17-game home winning streak. Kind of speaks for itself in terms of the Wildcat’s quality of play and the way those constant noon kickoffs affect teams that have endured pretty ridiculous travel itineraries by modern college football standards to make their way to Durham, NH. But even more than that, the Dukes now sit at 6-1 with home games remaining against URI and Elon. Taking nothing away from the allegedly improved Fightin’ Christians – strike that – taking everything away, this means the floor for the Dukes now likely sits at 8-3. Enormous road tests at RU and Nova make up the rest of the slate but even a split of those games could have the Dukes in great position for a seed again as only JMU and Stony Brook are still undefeated in conference play.

When we all assumed it was over, and clearly the players did too.

When we all assumed it was over, and clearly the players did too.

Ready to play – The noon kick at Maine earlier this year showed how tough it is to play these games beyond the wall. The Dukes were sluggish then. They clearly had learned their lesson as they were ready to go in the first half of this one despite an opening drive three-and-out for what seems like the first time in forever.

Just better – Before the-quarter-that-shall-not-be-named this was really our big takeaway from this game. At halftime I jotted a note to myself that said “just better.” What I meant was that both of these teams were clearly prepared and well-coached with gameplans they meant to stick to. But whereas in years past under both Mickey and Withers, the Dukes may have squandered their considerable talent advantage against a disciplined team sticking to its plan like UNH, this year, JMU was also a disciplined team sticking to its plan and the talent could make the difference. The Dukes don’t turn the ball over or commit the penalties at horrendous times the way we’ve seen before and that puts them into position for things like their elite-for-FCS talent to make plays like the Terrance Alls TD grab or the Simeyon Robinson XP block. It’s such a pleasure and truly gives us hope that JMU can really compete in the postseason this year.

Simeyon Robinson – D-Line was the biggest concern coming into the season and the Dukes failure to generate pressure on QB’s for huge swaths of games – like the entire first half of this one – is still the one glaring weakness (kicking is a concern right now too) of this squad, but Mr. Robinson is capable of taking over for a series or a quarter in a way we haven’t seen since D.J. Bryant. To us, he might be the most irreplaceable player on the team right now.

O-Line – What can you say? Well, you can probably say something more intelligible than color commentator Brian Baldinger’s CTE-induced, incoherent rambling about the road graders up front. But we agree with his enthusiasm about the way Kirsch, Rigney, Frank, Stinnie, etc. are playing right now.

Passing Game – Schor was great and has deservedly picked up the CAA Offensive player of the week, but the most important thing is the Dukes showed just how complete they are on offense this week. UNH threw everything at slowing down the run game and it worked. Last year after Vad went down, the Dukes couldn’t really prove they could win the game in the air. This week they showed how great they can be and it’s unlikely anyone will be able to solely focus on any one thing going forward. Huge step for the team.

Rush Defense – On the other side of the ball, while we all get frustrated with how many short passes in open space the Dukes give up, we should keep in mind the gameplay. UNH’s best player was RB Dalton Crosson. UNH had 57 yards rushing. 57. The Dukes forced UNH to try and win with the passing game and they couldn’t do what Schor and co. did.

The Bad

UNH’s “crowd” – New stadium. Good team. 17-game winning streak and one of the CAA heavies in town on a perfect fall afternoon in New England. Some things never change.

The Ugly

ASN – Basically everything about this telecast was some high-school A/V Club level nonsense. The whole first half the sound wasn’t synced with the picture. They lost the feed entirely to start the second half. And lots of folks were actually having better luck with the YouTube feed than the cable broadcast. #CAA4lyfe!

The last ten minutes – Look, there are a million things we could say about this, but we’re not going to waste our time. When Charles Tutt ran in the fumbled kickoff to put the Dukes up 42-12 with a  backup QB in the game, the ENTIRE team thought it was over and turned their motors to “Off.” Honestly, so did we as fans. I took the dog out, lit the grill, and casually watched out of one eye till the second UNH score when I paid full attention again. And this wasn’t just the defense. The offense did nothing to keep the ball. Bottom line is the 42-12 score didn’t do justice to how good the Wildcats actually were. The Dukes had to play mistake-free football to obtain that lead, it wasn’t just that they were worlds better. And when they stopped doing that, the wheels came off. Thankfully they had already done enough.


Oct 15 / Rob

Gameday Open Thread: JMU vs. UNH


Alright folks, it’s gameday. And it’s a big one. The first true test of the CAA slate for the Dukes actually. New Hampshire is probably the most consistent program in the league, having made to the playoffs for about 173 straight years (true story, look it up). Kickoff is set for 12:00 noon in Durham, NH. Tune into the game on tv and chat with your fellow JMU fans here. Consider this your official open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter.

Go Dukes!

Keep Rootin!

Oct 14 / Todd

JMUSB Game Preview #6: New Hampshire

The Basics

Match-up: #6 JMU Dukes (5-1, 3-0 CAA) vs. #25 UNH Wildcats (4-2, 3-0 ACC)

Kick-off: Noon Saturday at the newly renovated Wildcat (no longer “Cowell”) Stadium – Durham, NH

Weather: 59 degrees, mostly sunny. Can’t ask for better than that on this trip.

Broadcast: ASN – this will be on NESN for anyone that has the sports package on their cable package. Basically, you can find this one on your guide in an unexpected spot almost anywhere in the country.


read more…

Oct 13 / jmusport

Guest Post: I Want to Party Like It’s 1999!

Jonathan K. won our prediction contest last week and earned the right to guest post. Here’s his look back at JMU football through the years.

In the fall of 1999, I walked onto the campus of James Madison University with bright eyes and big dreams. JMU’s football program was also pretty young under new head coach Mickey Matthews. Back then Bridgeforth Stadium had an AstroTurf playing surface (think your living room carpet, only thinner) and two grandstands. Imagine the current student section side of Bridgeforth but on both sides.endzone

I lived in the Lakeside part of campus so on evenings when my dorm buddies and I wanted to play a game of two-hand touch football, we could walk right in to Bridgeforth and play in the stadium- the very same stadium that greats like Gary Clark (Pro Bowl Washington Redskins wide receiver) would catch ridiculous amounts of TDs and Charley Haley (Cowbows/49ers Hall of Famer) would destroy ridiculous amounts of QBs. read more…

Oct 12 / Rob

Predictions Contest: JMU vs. UNH

KhalidThe Dukes go on the road this weekend for a tough road game at New Hampshire. It’s going to be JMU’s toughest CAA test thus far. New Hampshire is also 3-0 in league play and have made the playoffs for about the last 27 years (all numbers approximate). This is a very hard, but winnable game. And we’d like to know what you think about it. Leave a comment letting us know who you think will win and what the score will be. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it.

Go Dukes!

Keep Rootin!

Oct 12 / jmusport

Things to Consider When Trying to Get the Most Out of Strength Training

With summer here again, more and more people are starting to focus more and more on their bodies. A long winter of inactivity can lead to a number of negative consequences for your body. In order to get a body back into good shape, a person will need to find a way to incorporate strength training into their daily life. There are a number of training exercises out there that will allow you to regain the muscle mass lost and get back to a healthy way of life like using a recumbent bike. The following are some tips on how to get the most out of your strength training.

Make Sure You Warm Up

Before you put your body through the grinder doing various squats and Rotational Dumbbell exercises, you have to make sure you warm up. By taking the time to get your muscles ready for the workout you are about to do. This will help you to avoid pulling a muscle or injuring yourself during the workout. If you are unsure about what type of warm ups you need to be doing, then you will need to speak to professionals in order to get some sound advice. read more…

Oct 10 / Rob

Good, Bad, and Ugly from JMU 31 – W&M 24

The JMU Dukes defeated the W&M Tribe by the score of 31-24 in a rain soaked Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday. The victory moved the Dukes to a perfect 3-0 in CAA play and 5-1 overall. William & Mary on the other hand, dropped to 0-3 in the CAA and 2-4 overall. In some ways it was a rather ugly game. The Dukes were able to move the ball, but struggled to convert all the yardage into points in the first half. And the Defense was unable to put the clams on Kendall Anderson and his Tribe teammates, allowing them to hang in there and make a game out of it. Taylor Reynolds came up huge, picking up a Steve Clulely pass in the endzone with under 2 minutes left and the Tribe driving to tie the ball game. Then Khalid Abdullah broke off a 74 yard TD to seal the game. Here’s the good, bad, and ugly from the game.


Abdullah and Cardon Johnson went beast mode again. Johnson had 90 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Abdullah ran for a career best 194 yards and three touchdowns. The duo might not be unstoppable, but they’re pretty damn close. And on a wet day in dogfight against a bitter rival, they both elevated their games and helped lead the team to a win.

The O-line. Johnson and Abdullah have rightly been getting a ton of credit for their outstanding play, and justifiably so. But the dangerous pair couldn’t do it without the big guys up front opening up holes for them to run through. They did just that on Saturday. And they also protected QB Bryan Schor giving him time to pass and preventing the Tribe from sacking him.

Taylor Reynolds. The pick in the endzone was obviously pretty clutch, but Taylor made other big plays on Saturday. He came off the edge to make a tackle for a loss near the goal line and hold W&M to a FG. It’s pretty amazing to think about how far he’s come in his time at JMU.

Gage Steele. Steele’s production dropped last season. That was partially due to him battling injuries and partially due to the overall weakness of the JMU defensive scheme. Games like Saturday’s though highlighted Steele’s ability to swarm all over the field and make stops.

Gunnar Kane. As a punter for JMU, Gunnar doesn’t even break a sweat some games. He’s answering the bell when called upon though and was great on Saturday. He booted a career best 66 yard blast to pin the Tribe on its 9 yard line.

The Crowd. We weren’t able to make in Saturday, but we’ve sat through plenty of rainy of games in the past. The fans in Bridgeforth probably weren’t comfortable, but they were loud and supported the Dukes during a tough rivalry game. That’s rootin.


Another missed chip shot. Tyler Gray has a big leg and has been huge on kickoffs all season. He missed what should have been a gimme on Saturday though. It happens and he’s too good not to bounce back though.

The rushing D? This one’s tough to judge. It wasn’t a shut down performance worthy of the good section, but it definitely doesn’t deserve to be labeled bad either. Others might disagree based on the fact that W&M ran for 205 yards. The reality is that the JMU defense pretty much held W&M in line. The Tribe averaged 4.7 yards per rush. They average 4.8 yards per rush on the season. So on a day where everyone in the world knew that W&M was going to try to pound the rock and keep the Dukes offense on the sidelines, JMU basically limited them to a standard performance.


The win. This was an ugly win over a bitter rival. And yes, this is a total cop out and my way of turning the ugly section into a compliment. Todd and discussed in Saturday night though and we simply can’t pick nits and look for things to be upset about after JMU took care of business against the Tribe and probably eliminated them from the postseason as well. Style points don’t count in the win column. Coach Houston and the Dukes beat a desperate Tribe team in the rain and are 3-0. Life is good.

Oct 8 / Rob

Gameday Open Thread: JMU Dukes vs. W&M Tribe

Hope you all are safe and sound wherever you are today. Plenty of folks are already back in the ‘burg tailgating and getting ready for the Dukes big game against the Tribe. JMU hasn’t lost to the W&M since 2004 and will attempt to keep that streak going today. W&M is looking to right the ship and salvage its season before it gets too late. But we don’t want that to happen.

If you’re not going to be in Bridgeforth, tune in via Comcast SportsNet or Madizone and chat with your fellow Dukes fans right here. Consider this your official open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter.

Go Dukes!

Keep Rootin!