Dukes vs Villanova Postmortem
JMU lost another close game, falling 14-7 to Villanova. This was the Dukes third CAA loss and it drops them to 4-3 on the year. I’m really not sure what to say about this one. It was ugly at times, but the Dukes hung in there and looked like they might steal it. In the simplest terms, it was a very close loss to a very good conference opponent. JMU actually had a chance to repeat the Landers to Williams “Miracle on the Mainline” and tie the game. A Dudzik Hail Mary was picked off in the endzone as time expired though. Tough, tough loss.
I will say this, we’re all wasting our time trying to figure out why the offense isn’t putting up more points. Here is the answer: It’s just not a explosive offense! We’ve seen enough at this point to recognize that this is intentionally a hyper-conservative, some might say unimaginative, system. The Dukes are going to run the ball and throw some short passes. If someone makes a play and breaks one (i.e. Sullivan at Tech) they’ll score quickly. If not, then they’ll play stellar defense and try to grind out a win. We might not agree with it, but it’s pretty clear that’s what the coaching staff is trying to do, isn’t it? Whether they’re doing it because of injuries to the o-line, lack of confidence in certain players, or because they’re just gutless, is still up for debate though.
Enough of that. Here’s quick breakdown of some of the highs and lows from the game.
The entire JMU team’s 3rd quarter performance – Heading into the half, JMU gave up 2 quick TDs to go down 14-0. It looked like the wheels were about to come off. The Dukes came out after the break and just dominated the 3rd quarter though. They opened with a 73 yard scoring drive and dominated the time of possession. I really thought it was the best quarter of football JMU has played since the Tech game.
Penalties – The Dukes have been plagued by game-changing stupid penalties all season. This game was no exception. The late hit on Whitney that negated a huge ‘Nova penalty, the personal foul hitting the returner after he called for fair catch, or the illegal man down field on the final drive that moved the Dukes from ‘Nova territory back inside their own 30, were all awful.
Stephon Robertson and Pat Williams – Yeah, the entire Defense played well today, but these two guys were amazing again. They each had 11 tackles. Is it too early to start a campaign for Robertson for the Buck Buchanan Award in 2011? What about for 2012 and 2013, since he’s only a redshirt freshman?
Matthews antics – Look, we love Coach Matthews. He’s made the JMU program what it is today and he’s been nothing but a nice guy every time we’ve had the pleasure to speak with him. I just think the constant screaming and yelling is wearing thin with the officials. It’s doing the team no favors.
Drew Dudzik – I know this one is going to be controversial, since lots of people think he’s not playing well. He’s in a tough spot, playing behind a young offensive line and at times this season (even in this game) he’s looked like he completely lost his mojo. He stepped up big in the second half though and played with ton of heart. He had the Nova announcers gushing with his effort to run for a first down after almost being taken down by three Wildcats. It was an awesome play and exactly what we expected from Drew heading into this season. It probably would have sparked a long drive…if it wasn’t followed up by another dumb penalty.
Me – I have been way to down on this team lately and pretty much had given up all hope and declared the season dead at halftime. That’s just stupid. It’s obvious that I don’t think this offense is going to start lighting the world on fire, but that doesn’t mean I think the Dukes are done. At this point, it’s going to be tough to make the playoffs. How is that surprising? The CAA is brutal. It was never going to be easy! Last year, everyone was convinced the Dukes were doomed and then they rattled off four straight wins to close the season behind a red-shirt freshman QB. They even won on the road at UMass and Delaware. JMU never wins in those places. Why are we all so convinced they can’t do it again this year? For whatever reason, the coaches have decided to play a conservative, grind-it-out style of football. It might not be pretty, but 13-10 wins count the same as 48-0 blowouts. The Dukes could realistically win every remaining game on the schedule. They could just as easily lose each game. It just makes a lot more sense to look forward to the games, cheer like hell for JMU, and see how things play out, than it does to assume the worst. Go Dukes!