Aug 29 / Rob

2019 JMUSB Game Preview #1: JMU vs. WVU

The Basics

Matchup: JMU Dukes (0-0) vs. WVU Mountaineers (0-0)

Kickoff: 2:00 PM Saturday, August 30

Location: Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV

Weather: Mostly sunny with a 85 degrees, high likelihood of evening smog from burning couches

Most People Are Average

People on the fringes attract a lot of attention nowadays. Perhaps they always have. The truth is that most people are not perfect saints, any more than they’re hopeless sinners. As individuals, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Good days and bad days. But overall, most people are way more similar, than they are different. Which means that it’s rather silly to judge any large group or community by the people on the extremes. Which is a great thing for WVU fans, because the Mountaineer fans in the long tail are borderline insane lunatics.

We’re not talking about your run of the mill WVU fans. Your average Mountaineer crowd is a whole lot like a typical JMU crowd. You’ll find engineers, plumbers, teachers, doctors, cops, and all kinds of everyday people. Having been to WVU games in the past, I guarantee you that 99% of Mountaineer fans you encounter tailgating are good people. Sure they might playfully boo you if you walk by in JMU colors, but it’s a virtual lock that if you respond with a certain rhyming food suggestion for Nooch’s former school, they’ll laugh, offer you a seat, hand you a beverage, and want to start talking football. Like any other college football fanbase, it’s made up of good guys and gals. Even if they do have a strange affinity for Davy Crockett cosplay.

The 1% fringe though? Watch out. They’re worse than you can imagine. And if you’re a WVU fan reading this, calm down, because chances are we’re not talking about you. But if you’re a full grown adult WVU fan who needs to have someone read this to you as a VHS tape of Major Harris highlights plays in the background and you pull a half smoked Newport from an ashtray, pour what’s left of last night’s Jack Daniels on a bowl full of Frosted Flakes, and plot ways to egg your Pitt fan neighbor’s house for the 83rd consecutive day? Yeah, we’re talking about you. This isn’t about the countless friendly, passionate, and fun WVU fans we shared drinks and laughs with in the FedEx Stadium parking lot before the game in 2012. It’s about the ones lacking any real affiliation with WVU, with more shoes than teeth, who were roaming around in what appeared to be packs of meth-head zombies throwing bottles and looking for couches to burn after said game.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that JMU has its own breed freaks in the fringes as well. The ones that consistently turn their noses up at the rest of the FCS, while simultaneously losing their ever-loving minds whenever FBS fans throw shade at the subdivision. The ones who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge WVU’s success as a P5 school and spend more time arguing with strangers about their lack of respect for the Dukes, than they spend actually rooting for Dukes.

Here’s a litmus test. A friend shared this relatively benign video from a wannabe Desus & Mero duo with a group of us JMU die-hards. Everyone in the group had a collective “meh” response, realizing that it wasn’t about disrespecting JMU fans. It was about firing up WVU fans and getting excited for college football. If you can watch it and have the same reaction then go about your life, congratulations. You’re in the fat part of the JMU fan curve. If watching it makes your blood boil, forcing you to fire off a series of angry tweets trying to disprove the “arguments” presented by the hosts though? Well, we’ve got some bad news for you. It’s just a dumb video. (ed. note: No clue what they’re talking about with JMU playing Alabama close stuff, but props to whomever came up with the “When you talk about Virginia, you don’t talk about JMU…maybe you talk about the Spiders” smack. That hits us where it hurts. Respect.)

Let’s keep that in mind over the next 48 or so hours. Don’t judge a fanbase by the obnoxious Twitter eggs and lonely drunken tailgaters. Seek out the average fans, talk some playful smack, ask for their thoughts on their team, and then root like hell for yours.

How The Mountaineers Can Win

By following the new coaches playbook and leaning on their depth in the second half. New WVU Head Coach Neal Brown is one of the bright young minds in the game. In his most recent gig as the Coach at Troy, his teams were known for making big plays. We expect him to try to strike quickly and make big plays downfield on Saturday. Every FBS coach knows you don’t want to let FCS teams hang around in these games. That’s when the pressure builds and things get dicey. If WVU can execute a few downfield strikes and get out to a decent lead, it could be a long day for JMU.

The Mountaineers have a number of unknowns this year. New coaching staff, new starting QB, and a relatively inexperienced secondary among them. To account for all that, WVU will probably lean on it’s depth at RB and on both sides of the line. We’re all excited about JMU’s starting defensive line and think they can more than hold their own this week and every week. But the Mountaineers can utilize 4 capable running backs and rotate in big lineman on both sides of the ball. They’ll probably bet that eventually the fresher legs will be enough to break through JMU’s defense. That could be the difference, especially in the second half.

How JMU Can Win

By focusing on ball security, but not playing scared. We all know how last season ended. We don’t need to rehash it. But it was a good example of how even a mediocre team (yeah, I said it) can get the W if it wins the turnover battle. This 2019 WVU team ain’t Clemson, but it sure ain’t 2017 ECU either. JMU cannot afford to give the Mountaineers extra possessions. The Dukes absolutely can win, but they need to play the sort of ball we saw Cignetti’s Elon team play in Bridgeforth last year. That team was determined to run, and patient enough to keep at it until it had opportunities to break off a series of first downs on the ground. That team hung around and then capitalized on mistakes to get out of town with an upset. Sounds like a recipe for success.

This isn’t a situation where JMU needs to result to trickery to win. Yes, it will be tough to run the ball against such a deep collection of defensive lineman. But JMU needs to go right at them. If the Dukes can eventually have success on the ground, the receivers should be able to surprise the unproven secondary. Take care of the ball and play aggressive. There will be chances to make plays. Then it’s just about execution.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

First game of the year, temps in the 80s, and a rowdy FBS fanbase ready to consume many adult beverages. Sounds like the perfect spot for a balanced day drinker. Something like Ardent Pilsner. Simple and to the point. It’s a terrific tasting beer, and since it’s not overly bitter, it won’t fatigue the palette. Plus, it’s a reasonable 5% ABV, so it won’t put you under before halftime.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Fans fall in love with Nooch again, Rashad Robinson reminds the nation that he’s back and bound for glory, JMU pounds it out on the ground, and the Dukes get the first win of the Cignetti era.

JMU 27 – WVU 20

5 Comments

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  1. Sunchase / Aug 30 2019

    I’m clearly biased, but I think this goes in the JMUSB hall of fame. An FBS preview wrapped inside a call for civility and perspective. Love it

  2. Priz / Aug 30 2019

    I enjoyed the bit about the White House fire. Where was Jimmy while Dolly was saving paintings? ha.

  3. Tripp / Aug 30 2019

    Ardent pilsner is a great RVA brew, brewed by a friend of mine and a JMU alum! GO DUKES!

  4. JMUJoe / Aug 31 2019

    DiNucci again with no awareness at the end of the game and can’t hit a pass over 15 yards with any zip on it. Hopefully we’ll bring in a QB in the 2020 class since I find it hard to believe Cole can’t beat DiNucci out.

  5. JMU2K1 / Sep 1 2019

    If DiNucci is our best, we have zero chance of going to Frisco. Yes, there was lots of good in this game but when QB is your biggest liability, you aren’t going far.

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