Apr 18 / Rob

JMU Beats RU and Gets 3 Seed

Coach Cignetti and the Dukes took care of business and soundly defeated Richmond by the score of 23-6. While JMU has become accustomed to much larger margins of victory over the Ticks recently, this one was never in doubt. The Dukes D completely shut down Richmond’s offense. And the offense jumped out to an early lead, before grinding it out in the second half to secure the victory. The win capped an undefeated spring regular season for the #1 team in the land. The reward was a #3 overall seed for the playoffs. Alrighty then.

First up, let’s appreciate this win. JMU does not have the sort of “light it up” offense of recent years. What it has is a unit that limits mistakes, takes care of the ball, and ultimately wears the opposition down. JMU under Cignetti probably isn’t going to run up the score or rack up 70+ point wins like it did under Houston. Yesterday was a good example of that. The Dukes could have taken some bigger strikes or even tried to punch it late. But they didn’t. They stuck with what was working, took what RU gave them, and walked away with a dominant win.

Likewise, Cole Johnson is probably never going to reach the heights of some recent JMU QBs. But let’s give the guy some credit. Since assuming the starting role after temporarily losing his spot, he’s played with much more confidence. He’s making better reads and seems way more decisive. Sure, he’s not going to be a Payton Award Winner, but when he plays like he has the past two games, JMU can beat any team it faces.

And we suppose we should say something about the defense. It’s just dominant. Fans bemoan the fact that the pass rush isn’t near last year’s level, but JMU lost a couple of its most effective pass rushers ever. As a unit, this defense is getting the job done. Much of the social media chatter during the RU game was about how Richmond’s Joe Mancuso was a much better throwing QB than anyone expected. We agree. The kid looked capable and he possesses a good arm. JMU held him to 125 yards and 9 completions in 24 attempts. That’s an impressive showing by the D. Again.

As a reward for its dominance, JMU earned the third overall seed for the playoffs. In case you weren’t paying attention, JMU was the #1 overall seed when the committee released its preview rankings a few weeks ago. Then following a couple of impressive wins, JMU fell two slots to third. Predictably, that has many JMU screaming mad.

There’s a legitimate argument for South Dakota State and Sam Houston to be deserving of the top two seeds. But it’s harder to make one, when the committee releases the ridiculous (and utterly worthless) preview rankings with JMU on top. Just don’t bother. It servers no purpose. If all this flip-flop does is get JMU playing with a chip on its shoulder next week in its opening game against VMI, then maybe do release them actually.

Finally, the committee awarding four of the six at-large bids to teams from the Missouri Valley Conference is flat our ridiculous. It’s a good league, but any argument relying on “good” losses is flawed from the start. This year more than any other, it’s tough to judge teams from different leagues. So maybe a little more weight should have been given to actual wins. Teams can only beat the opponents on their schedules. The committee seemed to act like MVC teams with multiple losses deserved bids because they would have hypothetically won more games if they played in a league other than the MVC. At the same time, the committee completely devalued real wins in actual games played by teams in those other leagues. Do better NCAA.


leave a comment
  1. CJ / Apr 18 2021

    Good win for the Dukes against our toughest opponent so far this season. I could nit-pick a few things, but overall it was a good job and I hope it gives us some momentum into the playoffs.

    Two ways to look at where we stand now. On one hand, we’ve had psychologically tough season with the COVID uncertainty. And we haven’t really been tested by any high caliber opponents. But on the other hand, we haven’t had the wear and tear of a meat grinder schedule that NDSU, SDSU, Weber, and some others have. We’re entering the playoffs fresh and largely injury-free. Let’s hope we capitalize on that.

    And by the way, I totally agree with the #3 seeding. SDSU and SH St earned their seed with tougher schedules. And the RMU and Elon performances couldn’t justify a higher seed. No worries, in the end it won’t matter.

    I usually don’t do predictions but I’ll go ahead and declare that VMI’s chances of beating the Dukes are approximately NIL. And I say this knowing full well that they are a better team than Robert Morris and Elon (both of whom owned us for large portions of those games). Barring a miracle, the ride ends for the Keydets next weekend.

    Which brings us to a likely matchup against North Dakota at Bridgeforth. This will finally show us what we’re made of.

    And while I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself…but how epic will a NDSU visit to Bridgeforth be? Seriously, I think I’d be more stoked about that event than the championship game itself.

    Okay guys, good talk.

  2. Rob K / Apr 19 2021

    Agree that this was a very good win. I thought the team played a well-rounded game and kept just enough ahead of the Spiders where it was not a serious concern.

    I would also like to take this time to note that we continue to be lucky to have dependable special teams. Other kickers at this level easily could have gone 1-3 with those kicks, which would have made the game much different. Also a few good punts from Harry flipped the field position.

    I’m personally OK with the #3 seed. I thought it was a little strange that we didn’t go down in the rankings when we kept having games cancelled. I think we are probably a top five team, and what specific ranking to assign the teams is a lot harder this year. We didn’t distinguish ourselves early, then had bad Covid luck, so I don’t think we can really demand a #1 seed.

  3. CentennialDuke / Apr 19 2021

    I love that a lot of our fans are giving South Dakota State and the MVC their respect for having a tougher schedule than JMU. The fans that are upset with the #3 seeding are making the point that if the “Committee” thinks we are the #3 seed fine but why did they rank us #1 before the 2 best wins of our season? What changed in the last few weeks that dropped us from #1 to #3? Was it Sam Houston’s big win over Incarnate word?
    My gripe is the path that they gave JMU to the win a championship is about as hard as I have seen. What ridiculousness that we have to play an in-state team that was 5 points away from being undefeated and a top-10 team in Round 1. Don’t worry, in my opinion we just have to face 3 straight MVC teams (North Dakota, NDSU and SDSU) after that. If by some chance Sam Houston makes it to the semi-finals, which they won’t, we would have to travel to them.
    I know coach will have the team fired up on the 24th, lets not overlook VMI, they are a very good football team and they are very capable of beating us. Survive and advance, Go Dukes!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: