Dec 6 / Todd

2019 Round of 16 Playoff Preview: Monmouth at JMU

The Basics

Matchup: #14 Monmouth Hawks (11-2, 6-0 Big South) at #2 JMU Dukes (11-1, 8-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m., Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA

Weather: Sunny, High 44. Can’t ask for much better, but it’s playoff time and you know how the Valley gets at halftime when it’s dark so bring all the handwarmers (and the bourbon).

Broadcast: ESPN3. Thankfully, this is the free service for those with a cable package, not the ESPN+ so Dukes everywhere should be able to tune in.

Boys in the Desert: JMU -28.5 O/U 64, ML -7500 (YIKES!). This line has gone up all week and seems inflated based on the dummy public underrating Monmouth. Hope we’re wrong though!

How Monmouth Can Win

Do what they do on offense and disrupt the Dukes enough on D. Monmouth has scored with everyone they’ve played (including Albany and Montana) all season. Monmouth has wins over two more teams still alive in the tournament than the Dukes do (Albany, Kennesaw St.). They’re good. And any Dukes fans that think otherwise are the casual RVA fans who will be angrily yelling about the halftime score and pining for Houston while they’re checking the score on their phone in the bathroom while they’re making the turn at CCV on Saturday.

But what Monmouth really needs here is to take advantage of a Dukes’ defense that will be without DT Adeeb Atariwa for the first half thanks to the joke that is the CAA. They probably need their track superstar, and the nation’s leading rusher, Pete Guerriero to get untracked and stake them to a lead they can hang onto. Their dual-threat veteran QB Kenji Bahar, is really solid too, but he looked like maybe he was banged up in their blowout of Holy Cross last weekend so they’ll need to somehow come up with a way to protect him.

It’s really hard to see Monmouth completely shutting down the JMU offense, but if they can force turnovers to add to their own total, they could really put pressure on the Dukes and wake up the echoes of Colgate.

How JMU Can Win

Limit mistakes, hang tough mentally, and let talent and depth take over in the second half. Monmouth is legit. Monmouth will probably break off a big play or two in the first half. The Dukes need to keep their heads up and have a “next play” mentality. If they can take of the ball on offense, the Dukes line and talent should wear the Hawks down in the second half like we’ve seen so many other times this year. It may take a little longer against a veteran and motivated team with nothing to lose, but if JMU hasn’t shot itself in the foot, it will happen.

They also need to win the special team battle. Both teams have shown a penchant for less-than-stellar kick coverage at times this year and the Dukes would be well-served to be the ones to get it right this week. Also a spot where JMU athletes like Juwan and De’Angelo could do big things.

Lastly, it’s going to be really fun to watch the JMU defense try to rise to the challenge against the nation’s leading rusher. If they can survive the first half without Adeeb, the Dukes could give us die-hards in the stands the chance to yell our faces off this week.

Beer of the Week

Vanish Farmwoods Brewery’s Fat Boys Imperial IPA. It’s big and tasty and high ABV and it’s time for the fat boys to take over. Also, Vanish is amazing and you should make the trip out to Lucketts as soon as possible.

Official JMUSB Prediction

This game feels sooooo much like the UNH game to open the playoffs in ’16. We’re all a little skittish off last year’s Colgate debacle (same). We know the opponent is very capable and highly skilled but we “think” the Dukes are probably an order of magnitude better. And we’re watching our new coach that we’ve come to love and hoping his team can prove it when it counts.

Houston waited till pregame for the infamous and emotional war cry of “Lock the Damn Gates!” That was fitting for his style. Coach Cig just matter-of-factly tweeted out “No, it’s not” on a Monday. Seems fitting for him. As they say, different strokes. But let’s just hope the very different methods lead to the same iconic outcomes.

JMU 45, Monmouth 22

3 Comments

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  1. maddukes98 / Dec 6 2019

    Its easy to rack up yards against teams that are inferior. Not saying Guerriero isn’t a threat, but lets be honest he isn’t the next coming of Abdullah. In fact, if you look at Khalid’s 2016 stats – very similar to Guerriero’s this year. But Khalid did that against some of the best teams in the country in the CAA.

  2. Drake / Dec 6 2019

    Good point on the 2016 UNH comparison. That lowers my stress level a bit.

  3. CJ / Dec 6 2019

    I’m usually not this confident but I expect the Dukes will cruise in this one. They may start slow, as they typically do, and Monmouth might break a few big plays and a score or two, but the Dukes will adjust and overwhelm Monmouth with their superior talent on both sides of the ball.

    The big test, which I’m not so confident about, is next week against South Dakota State. (Although don’t count Northern Iowa out entirely this weekend) Either way, a more skilled pass offense scares me.

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