Oct 3 / Todd

Penalty: False Start on JMU Nation

A friendly reminder

So it’s been 36 hours or so since the putrid offensive performance against Delaware and the utter waste of a fabulous defensive showing.  Hopefully everyone’s back off the ledge by now and we can address the bad and the good, yes, there was some good, from yesterday.

Mickey said penalties were the difference in the game.  Well that, and an offensive gameplan that displayed the imagination of a pistachio nut (bonus credit if you pick up that reference).  I’ll let Rob address “the issues,” but I’m going to be the ray of sunshine on this dark day and point out a few positives from Saturday.

Silver Linings: Nova lost to W&M, who already lost to UMass.  UNH lost to Maine in OT yesterday.  This means the conference is still WIDE OPEN (especially since Nova should get Szczur back before they play Delaware). We play Towson next week and despite what appears to have been a solid showing against UMass, the Dukes couldn’t ask for a better chance to get on track before they come home for UNH for Homecoming.

The Dukes are UNREAL on D right now and we don’t even have everyone healthy (Emmons).  DJ Bryant and Ronnell Brown are dominating up front and Robertson, Nelson, Jackson, and the Williamses are playing at a BCS level right now!  21 points should be enough to win any game this team plays.

Please remember App. St. lost TWO games the year they beat Michigan and still came back to win the National Championship.  It happens and the CAA is a beast.

The Issues: It’s fitting that I (Rob) should cover the issues, because I’m typically a doomsday fan. I actually don’t think the season is over or even in jeopardy now. There are clearly lots of issues to address though if this team hopes to reach its potential. Let’s take a look at just 3 of them: Not going for on 4th (not our style and we need the points), the playcalling, and penalties.

The Decision: We don’t want to have one of those typical Monday morning quarterback blogs, where we question every decision the head coach makes or try to argue that but for one single play, our beloved Dukes would have won. However, Mickey’s decision to kick the FG instead of going for it on 4th and 2 near the goal line was puzzling. I’d get it if JMU was on the road. Or if the Dukes were playing with their back-up QB (like Delaware was). Or if the offense was clicking and Matthews thought they’d have other chances. The fact is, JMU was at home, was playing with its starting QB, and its offense was definitely not looking like it was going to get a lot of chances. They should have gone for it. Worst case, you give a second string QB the ball in his endzone. Best case, you get 7 points in front of the home crowd in a defensive battle.

The Playcalling: The decision to go for it was particularly bad, but the playcalling all day was frighteningly unimaginative. We understand that the offensive line is struggling and Dudzik hasn’t been too sharp lately. I still think that the coaching staff should be able to come up with more than 3 plays that fit the personnel. Relative to recent seasons, JMU actually threw the ball a lot. I think you can count on one hand that they threw the ball downfiled however. And in this case “downfield” means “beyond the line of scrimmage”. How many friggin screen passes did we need to see before realizing they weren’t working? Delaware couldn’t get much going on offense either, but they started tossing passes into the middle of the field and chipping away. JMU should have done the same thing. And if the o-line can’t pass block, what makes you think a power rushing attack is going to work. Dudzik ain’t Rodney Landers, but he can run the option. Really well actually.

The @$%&! Penalties: Finally, the penalties are just back-breakers. The D has been outstanding, but they seem to get an uncanny number of facemask calls. The blocks in the back on special teams, the holding calls, etc, etc. They’re all awful. I felt like every time the Dukes got a spark, there was a flag on the play. It’s tough to win when you have an explosive offense that gets a lot of penalties. It’s near impossible if you have an offense that isn’t even a lock to crack double-digits.


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  1. Coach Priz / Oct 4 2010

    Not going for it on 4th was brutal. It should be a no-brainer for every coach but especially for a coach that used to go for it on 4th and 4 from his own 25.

    As Rob can attest- I am pretty tired of routing for teams that are all Defense/No Offense.

  2. Todd / Oct 4 2010

    By the way, great to meet Jeff and John on Saturday at Baileys! Very gratifying and looking forward to tailgating together soon.

  3. Boltar / Oct 4 2010

    I don’t agree with respect to the decision on 4th and goal from the 2. We weren’t moving the ball, either, and given that we were in the middle of a defensive standoff going for 3 there was the right call.

  4. Jeff / Oct 4 2010

    Nice meeting you as well, Todd. Keep up the good work!Thanks again for the beer.

  5. IBleedPurple / Oct 4 2010

    Remember in 2004 we lost to a team-that-shall-remain-nameless by a last second FG. Then we beat the crap out of them on the way to Chattanooga.

  6. Rob / Oct 4 2010

    Good point about 2004. Saturday’s loss hurts, but realistically most fans (myself included) thought it would be good if JMU headed into this week’s game at 3-1. That’s exactly where we are.

  7. Landeta / Oct 5 2010

    App St lost 2 games on their way to the national championship the year they beat Michigan. All is not lost, though putting up 10 a week will make it difficult.

  8. Coach Priz / Oct 5 2010

    While I understand that 3-1 is a great spot to be, we shouldn’t give Mickey a free pass because we beat VT.

    Everything suggests he should have gone for it on fourth down at the 2. I’ll point everyone to a fellow economist (only he’s a lot smarter) http://elsa.berkeley.edu/users/dromer/papers/nber9024.pdf. The bottomline of the paper is that you should go for it within 5 yards of the end zone because of the trade off of points and field position for the other team and their probability of scoring. With as strong a defense as we have, we should have been unafraid of the Chickens advancing far enough to kick a field goal let alone a TD.

  9. Rob / Oct 5 2010

    Well said Priz. If we assume that scoring a TD on 4th there is the same as converting a 4th down, then I think the expected value of going for it would be 5.5 (JMU has converted 80% of its 4th downs and 100% of its extra pts). That’s obviously greater than the expected value of a FG, even if the Dukes never ever missed. Of course I haven’t touched this crap since b-school, so maybe I’m completely screwing it up. Regardless, I think they should have gone for it.

  10. JMU Rugby / Oct 6 2010

    Seriously, I was into my third miller light bucket at Bailey’s and even I noticed the lack of diversity in play calling. They HAVE to open up that book. Option, dive, short pass. Every other time…it was ridiculous.

  11. IBleedPurple / Oct 6 2010

    Just want to make a point about the (cr)App St-Michigan game- If you look back on it, Michigan SUCKED that year. Hopefully VT will go on to win the rest of their games and I can make the point that our win was much more significant than crappy appy.

  12. Rob / Oct 6 2010

    I get your point and definitely want to Tech to win out because it will make JMU look better. I’d hardly say that Michigan SUCKED that year though. They had a terrible start, but rallied to win 8 straight at one point, finished second in the Big 10, and the closed the season by beating Florida in a bowl game.

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