Sep 9 / Rob

JMU Defeats Norfolk State in Abbreviated Game

We expected the game between JMU and Norfolk State to be figuratively over after a quarter. Due to weather however, it was literally ended after 15 minutes due to lightning with the Dukes up 17-0. Well, due to lightning and the fact that it was blatantly obvious to everyone on earth, save Norfolk State’s announcing duo, that JMU had the game in the bag. Given all that, there’s not really much to say. We could try to pull a “Good, Bad, & Ugly” style recap out of thin air, but let’s just go with three thoughts on the game instead.

Two Thirds There

In a game that only went one quarter, we came away thinking that the Dukes are two thirds ready for CAA play. Thus far, the defense and special teams play has been pretty good. In this week’s game, they were both outstanding. Despite the fact that the Spartan’s announcers claimed that it was a level playing field in terms of talent, it was not. With all due respect to Norfolk State’s players, they were up against guys that were more talented than they were. There’s no shame in that. But JMU’s defense didn’t let up at all and consistently exploited their talent advantages all game (er, quarter). They shut down the running game and forced the Spartan QB to make difficult throws. And Jimmy Effin Moreland made a nice pick to become JMU’s all time interception leader.

Special teams was more of the same. D’Angelo Amos had a 76 yard punt return for a TD, highlighted by some terrific blocking by none other than Mr. Moreland. Amos had another long return called back due to penalties. Had the game continued, we fully expected to see Amos break off a few more long returns. And Ethan Ratkey split the uprights with his only field goal attempt and hit two extra points. Good night all around for specials.

Offense Still Searching a Bit

Unlike the other two units, the offense didn’t really find its rhythm. Sure, they marched down the field to easily score a TD (twice) on their opening drive. They were forced to punt after they only moved 14 yards on their second possession though. And on their final drive of the game, they had to settle for a field goal after starting the drive at the Spartan 27. The offense definitely didn’t play poorly. It just wasn’t up to level of the D and specials.

Look, we get that it had to be tough to play with intensity against an overmatched opponent after a weather delayed start. But the defense and special teams did it. It’s absolutely not time to sound any alarms, but going back to last year’s championship game, we’ve seen plenty of Dukes drives stall out in the red zone. With the weapons the Dukes have, it’d be nice to see them get more TDs instead of settling for field goals. Nooch ran the ball well last night, but even on a rainy night, we’d expect him to complete more than the 1 of 6 passes he did. The offense needs to find some consistency before league play begins in two weeks. It’s got a very high ceiling. Once things start clicking, watch out.

Taunting

This wasn’t a very memorable game. And if we had to guess, we’d say the only thing folks will be talking about is Nooch’s taunting flag. After running through a hole approximately 57 feet wide, he easily scampered to the endzone. Except he slowed down to a trot and looked back at the trailing defender. So he drew an unsportsmanlike flag and they took the TD off the scoreboard. It wasn’t the most egregious version of taunting we’ve ever seen. It was bad enough that we all knew what the flag was for as soon as it was thrown, but not so bad that it would have been outrageous for the ref to let it go. It was dumb though. Had the game gone the full four quarters, folks might have forgotten about it. But the game ended after 15 minutes and now it stands out more.

We both love Nooch’s swagger. Love it. I was never a trash talker when I played sports, and I never would have done anything like those first down wiggles/dances Nooch likes to do. It works for him though, and I’m a fan. That’s just enthusiasm boiling over. Guys need to find a style that works for them. You can win football games with with a hyped up Baker Mayfield type, you can win with a sleepy Eli Manning type, and you can win with anything in between. I’m not a fan of showing guys up though. And while it probably wasn’t his intention, it looked like that’s what he was doing last night.

While it was far from scandalous in our opinion, it was unnecessary. And it’s something to nip in the bud now, before it becomes a habit. If he can’t stop it, it’s going to impact games or lead to him getting hurt. If you think the late hit he took on the next series, was unrelated then we’ve got a bridge to sell you. Houston addressed it pretty matter of factly in his post game comments. Yes, it was probably a heat of the moment thing. We didn’t like it, but it’s not keeping us up at night either. Let’s hit pause before we condemn the kid though. He’ll correct it and find a way to keep that edge about him, without crossing the line. Jump around. Dance. Hype the guys up however you can. Just try to do it in a way that doesn’t show dudes up. Never lose the swag though.

2 Comments

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  1. Rob K / Sep 10 2018

    Great recap. Is it wrong that I want those NSU announcers to come and announce our JMU games? I loved everything about them. They were complimenting the NSU QB on the Jimmy interception! Loved the boundless optimism.

  2. ShadyP / Sep 10 2018

    I agree with all you stated. The only thing you left off was that Dinucci should have been 2-6 with a TD — Stapleton had a TD pass go right through his hands he usually catches. I think the delays definitely affected the offense as the just looked a tad out of sync.

    On the Dinucci flag. I don’t see it as a big deal and Coach Houston addressed it immediately with Dinucci on the sidelines and stated in post game comments, that is not how we play and will not be tolerated. I was at the game and to be perfectly honest it actually looked worse ‘live’ than when I saw it on replay. He basically kind of high-stepped and looked back at the guy while slowing down. Was it taunting, sure it was……was it that bad, not in my opinion. I like the swagger and energy Dinucci brings, just keep it channeled.

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