Jan 13 / Todd

Dukes Fall To Bison at The End, Again. Good, Bad, Ugly

Nothing we can say to make it better fellow Dukes. It hurts. Bad. But even if we’re a day late we’ve got to do this.

The Good

Riley Stapleton – What an incredible performance, again, when it mattered most. 10 catches for 100 yards and two TD’s. He has been nothing short of sensational when the lights have been brightest on the field in his career and his play will be missed. Here’s hoping he gets a shot to keep playing somewhere.

JMU Nation – We’ve come a long way. Taking over The Star as ours instead of the NDSU breastaurants. Being loud in the right places. Really starting to learn to bring it in the 60/40 atmosphere of an NDSU Frisco game. Hell, we even have know-nothing-but-say-everything bandwagon fans who are barely connected to JMU these days yelling stupid things in the stands these days. We’ve got a few more levels to go, but we’re on our way. Plus very good job on streamers this week.

This senior class – Simply, thank you from the bottom of our purple hearts for the greatest 4-5 years we’ve ever experienced as Dukes fans. Patrick, Rondell, Carter, Daka, Nooch, Tutt, Maginley, Dmitri and on and on. These are names we’ll never forget and it’s been a pleasure watching you grow on and off the field.

That first drive – Hell yes! That was awesome (Farley voice).

The roster – Stop complaining and worrying. Go look at the two-deep from this game and come back when you’ve added in Ukwu, all three (that we know of so far) transfers, plus Tucker-Dorsey and Currence and Douglas. Look hard at the list again (Fornadel, Amos, Davis, Ratke, Harry, Percy/Jawon/Latrele/SVH, Wilson, Azanama, Greene, Adeeb, Green, etc.). Dukes need to win the opener against Delaware and 9-2 or 10-1 would be very much in the mix again.

The MRD’s – We 100% applaud the decision to let these talented kids – also the very best fans we have – give a halftime performance (SWP > Get It On) that cared ONLY about what true Dukes wanted to see and hear and nothing for what the television or the NCAA or the Bison fans would ever understand.

Heart – Lots of nits to pick on gameplan but we’ve got a whole podcast to worry about that tomorrow. Team fought back, gave up only 7 points in the second half, made an enormous 4th down stop to give themselves a chance, and came three yards away from tying the game.

Rashad – Anyone ever even notice Watson in the game except when he got wrecked trying to run the reverse again.

The Bad

Special Teams – Not much to say about not being ready for the play that proved the difference in the game or the lack of a single use of Harry’s unique abilities all year. Changes need to be made here.

Lack of aggressiveness in game plan – Make no mistake, NDSU won this game because they caught the Dukes (somehow) with two trick plays (the fake FG and the fake reverse) and had one great player make a bunch of other broken plays. The Dukes tried nothing of the sort and still had a chance to win. Hate to see it.

Failure to spy Lance or adjust – He ran 30 times. No other player ran more than 7 times and they barely threw, and didn’t throw well when they did. He was their only weapon. He’s basically Rodney Landers in the run game but we’d have liked to see more from the Dukes.

The Ugly

Frisco weather – Again. How can we rig the post-2025 bidding for a Florida (FAU), NOLA (Tulane), Vegas (UNLV), or Arizona (??), or SoCal (??) location. Hell, if we want crappy weather in January, let’s just split the difference from Fargo to the ‘Burg and play it in Detroit or Columbus.

FCS Refs – Not the reason the Dukes lost (see above) but man it’s consistently awful to have a game that so many people have invested so much in marred by crews who are way over their heads for this level of speed and physicality.

In-Stadium Announcer – To be fair, the in-game media and production work was not nearly as skewed toward the Bison as two years ago (weren’t doing the first down thing or at least were leaving it to fans of both teams to handle themselves), but the stadium announcer’s frequent botching of pronunciations of players’ names showed a complete lack of preparation and effort. The fact that the botching was universally related to players of color is inexcusable. If you didn’t notice, I don’t really know what to tell you.

Let’s hope they’re so worried about Riley after his breakout game against them in ’17 that they forget about Polk and co.


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  1. maddukes98 / Jan 14 2020

    You failed to mention the attempt at “trickeration” late in game by trotting Gage out there and DiNucci playing WO. IMHO, in theory a good idea, but you don’t do that when ur behind like we were. That’s something you do when you are up, like NDSU did with fake FG when you are up. Plus, DiNucci has to throw that away and not take the tackle for a loss.

  2. ShadyP / Jan 14 2020

    Good wrap-up with one exception. Give it a break on the player name pronunciation thing and trying to make something out of nothing….quite frankly I thought y’all were better than that. This is not NFL or big time FBS football……I am sure the announcer has seen these names exactly once all year.

    I am a huge JMU fan but I still cannot pronounce Percy’s name correctly, why I just refer to him as Percy

  3. CJ / Jan 14 2020

    Great season by the Dukes. Thanks for putting on a great show for us every Saturday. Big ups to Cignetti for, despite some nit-picks here and there, hitting the ground running and taking us to Frisco. Good season for DiNucci, too; really wish he had just one more year to stay because the way he developed this year he just might have achieved greatness with one more season.

    As for the game… Unlike the 2018 championship against NDSU where a play or two might have changed the outcome of the game, this time there were just too many times where the Bison outplayed us. I was there in Frisco and then re-watched the televised version after that, and found nothing to lament because NDSU was the deserved winner.

    The Good:

    Nooch’s heart. When he ran on that 4th and 6, and got hit about 2 yards before the marker but still drove forward for the first down, even some NDSU fans turned around and acknowledged that was a hell of a play. Also, the Stapleton brothers were money. Those two gave the NDSU defense fits and they never really found a way to contain them. It’s not too often NDSU gets owned like that.

    The Bad:

    Way too many times our defense couldn’t stop their offense on third and long. We seemed to be able to shut down Lance most of the time, but he sure did take advantage of us when it really counted. He was the difference in the game. Also, not the best clock management on that final drive. However, NDSU really had our receivers smothered on that drive and there were a couple of opportunities where their secondary was in position to pick the ball off. Even if we would have scored, I honestly don’t think we would have been able to make the 2-point conversion. Overall, you just can’t let NDSU jump out to a lead like that and try to play catch-up.

    The Ugly Truth:

    NDSU is pretty much a lock to be right back in Frisco this time next year. And even if we’re there to meet them, Lance will only be better and I don’t give us any better chance of beating them in 2021. Lance was just too good for us. Aside from Lance, JMU probably has more talent man-for-man. But there really is a lesson to be learned from how NDSU routinely puts together a superior team every year. They are well-coached, well-disciplined, and they execute very well. And they do it on half the budget that we spend.

    I trust that Cignetti will have another good season next year. If we get a date with the Bison next December in the Fargodome, I’d love to be there for the opportunity to give them some payback.

  4. The Fly / Jan 14 2020


    That is all.

  5. T2008 / Jan 14 2020

    To add to the ugly, the TV announcers spent the entire game talking about Clemson and LSU. During the last drive of the game for us they were having to go back to the play that just happened after they finished the discussion about how the Clemson defense would match up with the LSU offense. Look I get it, it’s a big game with a bigger audience- and for these announcers probably a space they know better and feel more comfortable talking about. And I knew it would come up a good amount, that’s fine. But it was like 80% conversation about LSU and Clemson, 15% about how great the bison are, and %5 about how De’nucci’s season ended last year with 5 interceptions. Like that’s it. That’s all they bothered to learn about this game. I’ve never been one to want to go to FBS but sometimes things like this make me wonder if, against all logic, winning the Who Cares Something County Union Whatever Bowl would mean more than playing in the FCS National Championship. ESPN/ABC certainly seem to act like it.

  6. Drake / Jan 14 2020

    My wife and I also noticed all the talk about LSU-Clemson. I get that you need to advertise but if you were a fan watching the FCS championship game, then you know when the FBS one is.

  7. Joe / Jan 14 2020

    Has anyone typed the word a Breastrestaurant more than this account the past 2 weeks. Talk about obsession.

  8. Randy'78 / Jan 14 2020

    Back to the “Ugly” — Stadium management was totally ill-prepared to get patrons into the game in any type of orderly manner. I saw only two people waning ticket-holders entering the JMU entrance with no crowd control. Friends in my group missed half of the first quarter or more after an hour wait in line.

  9. Rob K / Jan 15 2020

    This loss has stuck with me all week. It’s too similar to 2 years ago – with a number of mistakes early that put us in the hole. And then driving at the end but coming up just short. Like two years ago, a huge number of great individual efforts by the players – most of them seniors.

    I really, really liked this team. It is sad that they won’t leave as champions, but they had an amazing season.

  10. Crysta / Jan 15 2020

    Thanks for the round-up. It was a bummer of a loss – felt like something we could have won if we had gotten out of our own way (those defensive penalties huuuurt my heart).

    Always love to see the MRDs shouted out – marching and playing in that band (’01, ’02) was some of the most fun I had at JMU.

    I too was upset by the announcers constantly talking LSU/Clemson. We’re literally watching a championship game right now, guys! Come on!

    @ShadyP, pronouncing folks’ names correctly is a sign of respect and it shows not only consideration to those people, but professionalism (in a situation like this). Even if that announcer never sees those names again, it is their job and responsibility to do it right. Add on to that the mispronunciations only coming on names of kids of color… what you have is a message that says (intended or otherwise): “you are not normal, and you aren’t worth enough for me to figure out how to say your name.” I’m proud the guys here brought it up, because we need to be calling out these kinds of problems whenever we see them, not just when *we’ve* determined it’s a big enough deal.

  11. ShadyP / Jan 16 2020

    @Crysta — the JMU roster has about 5-7 guys on the roster where I can see the name being a challenge for folks not familiar with the roster. It has nothing to the with race as you want to imply or disrespect to anyone, just a fact. My name is routinely mispronounced and I have never once taken it as an insult, seems rather thin-skinned. You do realize that the announcers are not dedicated to this single game……..and how many players and names they deal with on a yearly basis. Quit reaching and looking to be offended.

  12. Dukes4 / Jan 17 2020

    I’m late on this so understand if it goes unread. We stayed in Frisco where the hotel was 95 % NDSU. I engaged many fans and all but one were eager to chat about the game and associated events.

    The ESSENCE of the discussions re the fake field goal was that the kicker was injured early in the season and had not kicked a FG since then (or for a long time). Moreover, the holder was a converted QB (also heard safety).
    Was it really a surprise trick play?

    So da- I heard “out-coached” used by neutral fans at home and a few fans after the game. Did our coaching staff not see that coming.

  13. Jason Kennedy / Jan 17 2020

    @ShadyP are you a white male? I am, to be clear. If you are, you really have no idea what it is like to be an African American, or other minority, where unfortunately historically, society has been against you in many ways. Instead of clapping back at Crysta, how about you show a little compassion and understanding. These announcers are PAID, they aren’t volunteers just brought in at the last second like its a Little League game where you never have enough folks to help. They are PROFESSIONALS and should get it right. This IS the championship game and shame on NCAA for that.

  14. ShadyP / Jan 20 2020

    @Jason……the guys doing the game on TV were very good with pronunciations. I am pretty sure being this was not the NDSU nor the JMU in stadium announcer they probably had some issues with both teams. There were no issues with the much better paid and prepared ESPN TV broadcasters doing the game.

    You need to grow up and quit looking for a reason to be offended. The in stadium announcer for the FCS title game is probably much more akin to the LL announcer than you realize. For example, I have heard Liam Fornadel’s last name pronounced a couple ways (even on the regular season games broadcast on TV (oh the horror)…..I am not really sure which the correct pronunciation is but there is no slight meant one way or the other.

  15. wexcelsior / Jan 22 2020

    Pronunciation guides for names are provided and it is the bare minimum to expect announcers to read them, yet none ever seem to.

  16. Bison / Jan 23 2020

    Just checked and the Bison still Won!!!

  17. Mike in Columbus / Jan 30 2020

    Just finished watching the Dukes on CBSSN and as expected they lost another one. The team is just bad enough to lose most games. Watching this one made me think they are not awful but also not very good at some fundamental things such as defense and outside shooting. And at times they do not seem to play very intelligently; witness the play where #22 for JMU went to hand the ball off to another JMU player and had it stripped out of his hands by the C of C player who then went down and made a layup while being fouled by #22. Just not the type of plays one should see at D-1 level. The network analyst said we were getting “glimpses of what JMU will be one day.” I think we are clearly seeing what they are now and what they will be in the future. A lower level CAA team that just cannot compete with the upper level teams. Admittedly there are a lot of freshmen and sophomores but there seems to have been a regression from the start of the season instead of progress. Just always seems to be the same story with JMU basketball; excuses of youthful mistakes followed by the off-season promise of improvement that never happens. I don’t see how we can continue with Rowe as coach given a new arena is opening next season. Right now there are about 1000 people rattling around in the Convo on home game nights. Just not going to be acceptable with a new arena. Think the conference record is 1-9 now. Embarrassing to below Elon and Drexel.

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