Sep 1 / Todd

Breakdown of a Beatdown: Maryland Recap

So obviously that wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was just awful. Not even exactly painful, just really unentertaining, undisciplined, awful football if you can call it that.  But we’re going through our normal Good, Bad, Ugly process of recapping the game and we all need to calm down about this one until we see the Lehigh game.

Reality Check/Reminder

Remember this was the start of a shitty year.

Remember this was the start of a shitty year.

In 2004, when JMU won the Championship, the Dukes lost to West Virginia 45-10, and that was in Week 3 after two games to iron out the kinks. In 2008, when JMU had it’s best season ever (where it didn’t win the NC of course), the Dukes opened up with a similarly uninspired 31-7 loss to a then punching-bag Duke team. This weekend the following happened to other CAA squads picked ahead of the Dukes: CAA favorite New Hampshire lost 52-20. Delaware lost 62-0 to Pitt. Towson lost at home to CCSU. Stony Brook lost 13-7 at home to Bryant. William & Mary played well and still lost 34-9 to Virginia Tech. Maine won by the oh-so-flattering score of 10-6 at home over a MEAC team. Only Villanova’s painful 2OT loss in the Carrier Dome Friday night looked like any sign that a team might be really good. We’re not saying that justifies or excuses this game in any way, but it’s just to say I think we can reserve judgment on this season and the Withers era for at least one more week.

The Good

The secondary actually looked improved. This seems counterintuitive in a beatdown like this, but there were bright spots in the back (in fact, the avalanche of points in the first half was largely on the offense’s mistakes). In particular, Jimmy Moreland looks like a true baller and it was nice to see both Taylor Reynolds and Aaron Peak contributing positively at times.

Major injuries seem to have been avoided. No way we can overstate how big this is. Whether that was 52-7 or 31-20,  a loss to an BCS team is just a loss to a BCS team when it come to FCS playoffs so this is big.

The Bad

Discipline and Penalties, especially early. Simply killed any chance the Dukes had of being competitive.

High snaps. Hate to pick on an individual player, but hard to ask Lee to do anything when he’s leaping to bring it down every time.

Both of these items are in the Bad, not the Ugly, however, because they can be fixed. On the other hand…

The Ugly

Gameplanning. It’s tough to say, but it sure looked to us like Vad Lee had instructions not to keep the ball (to protect himself?) on any read option action. Other than the over-amped, undisciplined start from the defense and special teams, it sure looked like the coaching staff trotted out the ole Mickey vanilla-in-our-FCS-take-our-check-and-get-on-the-bus game plan. New era?

Lack of pressure from the front seven. Maryland returned almost every starter on O from last year and we’re really hoping this is just a massive talent advantage on the O-Line, but for a unit that the coaches were touting as JMU’s best, the complete lack of pressure on Maryland QB CJ Brown was shockingly disturbing. This makes the ugly because I don’t know how you fix this one. Just an awful performance that put the secondary in dire straights all day. Not even the most improved secondary can cover forever. It should be noted that at least in the run game, the missing Gage Steele probably would’ve made a huge difference and we hope he was smartly held out and is on track to make it back soon, but even he probably wouldn’t have effected the missing rush.

Dukes in the League!

On a positive note, lots of good news on former Dukes in the pros this weekend.

Josh Wells made the 53 for the Jags. Akeem Jordan held on to make the 53 for the Skins (Mike Caussin was also IR’d by the Skins so may not be done yet). Jordan Stanton was signed to the Giants practice squad. And of course Arthur Moats will be suiting up for the Steelers and Earl Watford is expected to play a much bigger role for the Cardinals this year. Great work from all these guys and Go Dukes!



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  1. 2004 Duke / Sep 1 2014

    Gotta disagree with a lot of this analysis.

    1. UMD’s QB was awful. Like…. horrible. To say our secondary played well is misleading, b/c Turdle QB#1 wasn’t even giving his recievers a chance.

    2. UMD is not Michigan or Ohio St. Its not like they have 5 future NFL-ers on the o-line. Our front 7 got whipped. They looked slow and soft, and the worst part was that Withers actually called them the “strength” of our team.

  2. 2004 Duke / Sep 1 2014

    3. All the comparisons to past losses (wvu, duke,etc) overlook a HUGE problem- there was much less money invested back then, expectations were much lower, and the college football scene was in a past era. The #1 reason this loss is so bad= we fire a tenured national champion coach, hire Ohio St’s defensive coordinator, and run off a bunch of players, replacing them with fbs transfers. We then hear all offseason about “the new era” and “uptempo offense” and “build around the front seven”… then when the team finally gets to back up all the talking they’ve been doing, THEY LAY A GIANT TURD. I didn’t expect to win, but that was the worst effort I have ever seen. Even if they beat St Francis by 70…it means nothing. Nobody is donating money to make the great leap to the NEC.

  3. Devon / Sep 1 2014

    Too many people are overreacting to one game. Personally I saw a lot of plays that would have cut it in the FCS. Maryland outmatches JMU in all phases, as they should. Saying that you won’t donate money to your alma mater because they got whipped in one game just makes you look like an idiot. Give this team a chance against equal opponents before you pass judgement, and allow this team to work out the kinks. They have a new coach, new system, and new players. Give the kids a chance before you pass your judgement. It’s ONE GAME.

  4. Xerk / Sep 1 2014

    Bravo, Devon. Agreed.

  5. maddukes98 / Sep 1 2014

    While I understand 2004Duke’s frustration as a past player, I just hope that everyone here is really willing to address the elephant in the room. VT. If we hadn’t beaten VT a few years ago, lets be completely honest with ourselves, we wouldn’t have much, if any expectations of playing the likes of UMD etc. We really shouldn’t have beaten VT – it was a fluke. They have beaten us 45-0 and so forth multiple times. The law of averages even says that we were due. Beamer is a “nice guy” coach and that is partly why they lost – they weren’t tough enough that day to really beat us when they definitely have more talent than a FCS team. As much as I am PROUD of that victory, I think in the long run that game clouds our expectations.

    Yeah, sure we didn’t play very well against UMD, but also they are a Big 10 team and they do have better recruits in the trenches as well all around (and more depth). Plus, we do have first year coach, new system/scheme, new philosophy, and a decent amount of new starters. The real season starts against Lehigh.

  6. TSDukes09 / Sep 1 2014

    I agree with the above analysis. What’s extremely frustrating and disappointing is that Everette Wither had NINE months to prepare for this game. What I saw on Saturday, was undisciplined, sloppy, unimaginative and uninspired football. For all the smoke Withers was blowing all off-season, he certainly sold us short. It’s clear that Drew Mehringer and Brad Davis, neither of who have any real experience as Offensive Co-ordinators, can not game plan or manage an offense. Additionally, Vad Lee is not the quarterback we thought he’d be. I agree with “2004 Duke” in that it’s not necessarily the final result that is upsetting, it’s the failure to meet the expectations of fielding a competitive team. I’m not saying we should have won, I’m just saying that we should have hung around a lot more than we did. What stings even more is that for all of the talk of moving up to FBS, we are clearly not ready. JMU seems to be stuck in neutral while other Virginia and FCS schools are making large strides. How are we going to compete with schools like NDSU, Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington who can beat and/or hang with FBS schools? This is a disappointing loss on many levels and my confidence in the coaches to prepare this team adequately has been shaken already.

  7. SP80 / Sep 2 2014

    Embarrassing!!! Left right after MD scored in the third quarter. Why after seeing all those preseason buildups films did V. Lee run the ball one time? I actually saw JMU fans trying to hide their hats and take off their colors walking out of the stadium. I’m sorry I went. I clapped twice once when they came out on the field and there was a third quarter pass that we got 30 yards that was notable. The only player that stepped up was our punter but needless to say two running into the fair catch punt receiver ruined his efforts. The Offense??? What offense??? Needless to say JMU should return all money spend by their fans on that game? For anyone to say one game, I understand but I actual saw the last JMU vs MD 38-35 and we had them beat except for one BS penalty with a minute to go. I just wanted to hold my head up high no matter if we lost and I couldn’t. I’m 56 years old ex player and grew up with a football coach Dad and it was the worst offensive game I’ve ever watched in person, even the MD fans were bored…I saw somewhere where V. Lee ran all over MD last time he faced them so where were our triple option plays and QB draws. ZERO well I saw one draw and he got 8 yards…

  8. cbjmuinatl / Sep 2 2014

    I’m not going to get all excited about a first game loss to an FBS opponent. Maryland was much better than I thought they would be. Those killer penalties on the first two MD possesions put the Dukes in a deep hole giving MD 30 free yards on each drive. Both of the MD fair catches were questionable (one was a little late, one was a very quick wave) but you still have to give the returner space to catch it. Do they need to work on alot? Absolutley. Will be easier to form an opinion after Lehigh and maybe a couple more games. The mark of good coaches and a tough team is how they adjust and correct issues to improve and bounce back. We hsall see. I am still wondering if Vad Lee had a knee injury that was not made public. A badly twisted knee will keep a runner from running much. That brace was substantial and have not seen him wear it previously, but perhaps he did. I hope Jones or somebody asks Whithers about it if it is indeed the first time he wore it.

  9. Shady_P / Sep 4 2014

    It was definitely not pretty and what I wanted to see last weekend but I will reserve harsh criticism until I see how we actually fare against an FCS team. Lehigh is a good program that consistently makes the playoffs. Remember we do have first year coach, new system/scheme, new philosophy, and a decent amount of new starters.

  10. 2004Duke / Sep 5 2014

    I take issue with MADDUKES98’s point about beating VT. I think 98% of us expected to lose to maryland. 99% of us also expected the team to at least put on a respectful performance. Keep in mind….. last time we played them, we went to OT and lost by a FG.

    It was humiliating. I left the game at the end of the 3rd quarter. It was the earliest I have EVER left a football game.

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