Oct 17 / Todd

Homecoming Nightmare!

What a disaster!  The second half of yesterday’s game may end up going down as the heartstabbing moment that killed the Dukes season.  Or hopefully it will go down as the day that forced the offensive coaching staff to take a good long look in the mirror and play to the kids’ strengths the rest of the way, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The coaching and playcalling are so bad and are likely to be covered a lot of other places so I’ll start by quickly running down the other atrocities from yesterday.

Injuries: Ronnell Brown, the biggest, strongest, most respected player the Dukes have on D, was forced to join Monroe, Veney, Emmons, and Dixon Wright on the sidelines early in the second half yesterday with what looked like a serious injury.  All of them were expected to contribute heavily this season and even a program as deep as JMU has a breaking point.  As mad as I may be about how badly the Dukes were outcoached yesterday, this situation is killing the team and that kind of talent can overcome a lot of mental shortcomings from the headset crew.  Vidal Nelson, the do-everything, hard-hitting senior safety, also was injured, but incredibly returned despite a possible separated shoulder and turned in, along with DJ Bryant, a herculean effort to try and keep the Dukes in it.  Unfortunately, when the offense is not only not producing for the Dukes, but conversely is also handing points to the opposition, there’s only so much the D can do.

Officiating: Look, it’s extremely important to note, lest we sound like BlueHens, that this game was not lost by bad calls.  It was lost by Durden and co. with the responsibility for building and executing an offense, but the officiating in the CAA this year has been an outright disaster.  I have to confess my worst fear is that Mickey’s antics through the years have honestly turned them against the Dukes (and also that Mickey’s flipping out isn’t exactly the best signal to his own players about panic in a tough part of the season), but really it’s just incompetence at the FCS level.  The extremely late late-hit call that kept the UNH drive alive to give them the icing-the-game 28-14 margin was terrible.  It was an incredibly athletic play by the Dukes, but the refs saw guys flying out of bounds and crashing through the sidelines and just assumed, wrongly, that the hit was out of bounds.  Happened right in front of us and it was a disaster.

Then a few plays later, a UNH lineman (#74) threw a punch at a Dukes player.  A big ole’ haymaker that the entire stadium saw.  Well, everyone except ANY of the jackasses in the striped shirts.  Would have taken the Wildcats out of field goal range and likely have prevented the final touchdown.  This one was just horrendous and my guess is the player will be suspended by the league.

OK, back to the Offense/Coaching: Look, the offense looked alright in the first half, producing huge runs by Scott Noble and Drew Dudzik to set up the TD’s, but they also failed to capitalize on a huge punt return despite the fact MM finally went for it.  We could argue about Drew but I thought he was going downfield late out of desparation and lack of a better option when the interceptions occured.  It was just glaringly obvious that UNH’s coaches adjusted to everything the Dukes were doing at halftime, while the JMU staff adjusted to jackshit.  That actually applies to both offense and defense, but the offense is the real issue.  Again, my biggest fear here is we have nothing left to turn to.  We’ve bet the house on the switch to The Pistol (about three years too late to be innovative) and we literally only have the 10 or so base plays for that offense to run.  I’m just not sure we have anywhere else to go.

Last word: Well, it may turn out that the last season pre-New Bridgeforth will be remembered mostly for the VT game, but we as fans also need to adjust our expectations.  Just making the playoffs would be an ENORMOUS accomplishment for this team given their retarded offense and injuries all over the place.  I just hope they turn it around NOW, as opposed to waiting for a huge slide like last year.  Obviously, @ Villanova is a tough place to start, but even a loss isn’t a death knell if they start playing better.  So if you aren’t making the bus trip next weekend, join us at Bailey’s around 3 to cheer on the Dukes and don’t give up before you attend the UMass game on the 30th and help turn this thing around!!


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  1. circus / Oct 17 2010

    On the plus side, we saw a close up on TV of TD and the patented “Old Guys Leave” shirt.

  2. Bryt / Oct 17 2010

    Good post and commentary on the game.

    I would say though – I don’t expect our game plan to change; nor do I think it would really help. Simply put they do not have the horses on offense to make this thing go. We’re not playing well enough at any position offensively to execute any game plan.

    I was firmly in the change the play calling camp because, in part that gave me hope that there was a magical adjustment that could be made to change things mid-season. Right now I just think we need freshman to grow up, injuries to heal and more experience for this core group.

    I think we should gameplan every game like Tech … let the clock burn, try to hold posession and hope the D can make enough plays … I see no other option.

  3. Todd / Oct 17 2010

    Circus – glad to hear OGL is finally gettin’ some run!

    Bryt – Right on, if they can just get ANYTHING moving on O they’d be alright. Just gotta hope the player’s don’t quit even if they lose to Nova cause it’s all still in front of them (remember – by FCS selection committee scoring rules the VT win counts double) and the schedule’s not entirely unfavorable. Certainly not impossible to think they lose to Nova, beat UMass, Maine, and UR and come home for W&M in a win-and-in situation. Think we’d all take that!

    p.s. on the post – Student section was PATHETIC -emptied out waaaayyyy before the game was decided, not that they missed anything.

  4. JMU Rugby / Oct 17 2010

    Great write up. I am beyond fuming about this game, but way too hung over to post my own post-game thoughts tonight.

  5. 2004 Duke / Oct 18 2010

    The problem with the offense is that they don’t have an identity. There is no “bread-and-butter” play that you know you can run any time, anywhere on the field and get a positive gain. In 2004 we called it “the power” play. You could always tell when we ran it becasue it either resulted in a 1st down or a Maurice Fenner 40 yd TD run. This “Pistol” crap would have been great for Rodney Landers, but last I checked he isn’t around any more. Additionally, it’s hard to tell Dudzik that he needs to develop a passing game, but then make him do it out of the pistol where all the passes are off play action fakes that require him to turn his back to the defense.

    We didn’t build JMU’s football program to where it is today by running cute little plays out of trendy formations. We did it by punching people in the mouth.

  6. dukie / Nov 4 2010

    Is J Thorpe heathy yet it would really help having the two QB’s to mix things up?

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