Oct 11 / Rob

2018-19 JMUSB Game Preview #7: JMU at Villanova

The JMU Dukes will take a quick trip up to PA this weekend to take on the Villanova Wildcats in battle of long time CAA rivals. The game will be played in the lovely confines of Villanova Stadium. Expect the tens of Wildcat fans there to be mildly interested in the game as they kill some free time before hoops season. Despite the fact that gameday atmosphere at Nova is about as rowdy as a church picnic, it’s proven to be a difficult road test for JMU historically. In fact, JMU is only 6-7 at Nova. Let’s get on with it.

The Basics

Matchup: #6 JMU Dukes (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at Villanova Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 CAA)

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. Saturday at Villanova Stadium in Villanova, PA

Weather: Temps in the 50s with 40% of AM showers

Coverage: Fox College Sports (FCS…ha!) on Dish and DirecTV, Fox Sports Go app and CAA.tv streaming

How We Got Here

By now you’re well aware that JMU is coming off a disappointing 27-24 home loss to a tough Elon team. If you weren’t aware of that, let us summarize it for you. Bad blocking + dumb (questionable?) penalties + giving up big plays on D = first CAA loss of the Mike Houston era.

The Cats are coming off a 3 point loss of their own. Last weekend, Villanova fell to Maine 13-10 thanks to a last second 53 yard field goal by the Bears. The loss dropped Nova to 0-3 in CAA play. But don’t let the record fool you. Nova is no slouch. They’ve been competitive in all 3 contests, and none of them were against CAA bottom feeders. QB Zach Bednarczyk didn’t finish the 29-27 loss to Stony Brook thanks to a shoulder injury, and he didn’t play at all against Maine. The Cats are a completely different team with him behind center.

How Nova Can Win

Elon showed how it’s possible to beat JMU. Use an unusual 3-3-5 defense to shut down the running game and pressure the QB on defense. Offensively, establish the run and then create confusion in the JMU secondary to pounce for big plays in the passing game. Fortunately for Nova, they run the same 3-3-5 defense. And the Cats also have an experienced QB who can make all the throws when healthy. But Elon’s success against JMU could actually work against Nova, since JMU now has a long list of things that don’t work well against their defensive system.

The key for Nova will be getting out to a lead and the dictating the pace. The Cats got out to quick leads against both Towson and Stony Brook, only to make mistakes and let their opponents come back. Assuming Bednarczyk plays, the Cats will try to get behind JMU’s safeties and make big gains in the passing game. If they get out to a lead, they’ll need to take care of the ball and use a steady diet of Aaron Forbes to move the chains in the ground game.

How JMU Can Win

By not doing all the dumb stuff they did against Elon. Credit to the Phoenix, but JMU did a lot of things wrong in last week’s loss. The offensive line had a poor outing. The coaches were slow to make adjustments. The D gave up far too many big plays. The offense stalled in the red zone. So all they need to do is not do any of that stuff.

We’re only sort of kidding. What the Dukes need to do is play up to their potential. and to do that, we think the key will be the coaches taking what Nova’s defense gives them. It’s great to want to establish the run, but if it’s not there, it’s not there and they need to adjust. The Dukes did that last week, but not until the 4th quarter. They can’t force things this week. If the running game doesn’t get going early, maybe get Marcus Marshall and Trai Sharp a few touches in the passing game. Find weaknesses and exploit them, instead of stubbornly sticking to the game plan if it’s not working.

We always say pressuring the QB is the key on defense. That’s definitely important this week, and the Dukes defensive line will benefit from the return of Adeeb Atariwa. However, we think the key will be playing assignment football on D. JMU had breakdowns all over the field in last week’s loss. By shoring things up and making the simple plays, the Dukes will limit (or eliminate) Nova’s big plays. We can’t recall ever seeing a JMU team give up so many backbreaking long gains. By our count, it was seven. Cut that down to 2 or 3 and they’ll be fine. Better yet, eliminate them all together.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

The temperature is finally supposed to drop this weekend. It won’t quite get down to mandatory stout type cold, but cool enough that a more malty beer should hit the spot. So let’s go with Brooklyn Oktoberfest for the JMUSB BOTW. True to style, it’s malty and bready with just the right amount of bitterness. It’s almost like it was brewed specifically for Fall weather like this weekend’s 😉

Official JMUSB Prediction

Losing stinks. But if you happen to lose to a team playing the exact same defensive scheme as your next opponent’s, well, that’s the perfect bounce back scenario. Here’s how we see things playing out on Saturday. The offensive line gets it together. Nooch mixes it up and keeps Nova guessing. The D plays as a unit. And the Dukes walk out of Villanova Stadium with a win. JMU 31 – Villanova 10.

One Comment

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  1. Drake / Oct 14 2018

    Where are all the negative Nancys that showed up after the loss last week?

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