Sep 20 / Rob

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from JMU 42 – Albany 28

albanyJMU played Albany to kick-off the 2015 CAA football season yesterday. The Dukes overcame a miserable first half, to defeat the Great Danes 42-28. The win moved JMU to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the CAA. Albany fell to 1-2 and 1-1 in league play. As they say, it was a tale of two halves. JMU did everything it could to give the game away in the first half, but rallied after the break to cruise home for a comfortable win. Next up for the Dukes is a match-up against SMU from the FBS. But first, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from yesterday’s win.

The Good

Halftime Adjustments – If there is one thing that distinguishes the Everett Withers era from the Mickey Matthews era, it’s halftime adjustments. Time and time again, Withers and his assistants work magic in the locker room and are able to fix whatever ailed the Dukes in the opening 30 minutes. They did it again yesterday. JMU came out in the second half like a different team. Vad Lee and his receivers were clicking and the Dukes had a couple quick strike touchdowns to pull away.

Multi-Threat Rushing Attack – Khalid Abdullah ran for 143 yards. Cardon Johnson ran for 134. Vad Lee chipped in with another 72. Ho-hum. Just your standard running game for the 2015 Dukes. These guys are all really good as individuals. As a combined attack, they’re damn near deadly.

Fast Paced Offense – JMU ran 98 plays and racked up 625 yards. You don’t really need me to explain to you how crazy that is, do you?

Pass Catchers – The guys running the ball are putting together some impressive statistical performances, but don’t sleep on the guys catching the ball. There isn’t one single guy that the defense needs to key on, but Lee has a number of talented targets. Seven players caught multiple passes yesterday. That’s tough for a defense to prepare for.

Taylor Reynolds Bringing the Wood – We love us some Taylor Reynolds. And we’ve been thrilled to see him develop into a great cover corner. But damn, we didn’t know he could hit like that. He had the hit of yesterday’s game and quite possibly, the best hit of this young Dukes’ season.

The Bad

Vad Lee’s Memory – The guy clearly didn’t really recall throwing 4 picks in the first half, because he came out firing in the second half. And his touchdown passes in the final 30 minutes were even more beautiful than his first half picks were ugly.

Rush Defense – It’s unfair to complain about a defense that has to play on the other side of JMU’s quick strike attack. They hardly get any time to rest. However, they had a few drives with noticeably poor tackling and let Albany rush for 5.4 yards a carry for the game. Not great.

The Ugly

The Officiating – Few things are worse than fans like us complaining about the refs. Yesterday the CAA refs put together a performance only CONCACAF officials could love. Reviewing a play after they let the offense run another play? That was odd. And it was one of number of ridiculous calls on the day. Not a great look for the league.

Attendance – We debated whether we should put our complaining about attendance or the attendance itself in the ugly section. While nobody likes to hear a couple of alums rant about student attendance, it was frustrating to see the student section empty out at halftime. We don’t want to rant or even vent about it though. Everyone can decide what to do with his or her free time, especially students. However, it would be really nice to see more of them packing the stands and supporting this team, which has the potential to be a special one. Hopefully more of them jump on the bandwagon before it’s too late. It would be a whole lot more fun for all of us if they did. If they don’t though, their loss. We’ll still be rootin’.


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  1. Smith / Sep 20 2015

    The one thing I’ve been thinking about student attendance is this: the student attendance isn’t actually terrible. Before the BFS expansion, students only had the Godwin stands to sit in. Now, there’s that entire section plus the end zone section, which doubles the size of the alloyed student section. I don’t think there are less students coming than in say 2008, they’re just suffering from same-amount-of-bodies-in-double-the-seats syndrome.

    Food for thought.

  2. JMUDRU / Sep 20 2015

    I’m gonna be positive on this and just say thank you to the students (albeit few students) that stuck and around and were into the game…your peers are missing out.

    Maybe they should start patrolling the convo parking lots with the idea that underage drinking can be overlooked with a ticket to the game that can be timestamped upon entry and exit @ Bridgeforth. Show up and stay for the game and you can tailgate as hard as you want. Otherwise tailgate at your own risk.

    I’m joking…mostly.

    Additions to your post:

    The Good: The Lobster stole the show despite a late arrival and heartbreaking finish. Loved the antics with the crowd. Also, Dukes are 3-0.

    The Bad/Good: Turning the ball over 6 times/Still winning by double digits

    The Ugly: Stupid Refs…and in related news…Pizza won the race NOT the hot dog. Didn’t realize CAA officials were overseeing that too

  3. JMUDRU / Sep 20 2015

    One more thing for the Good: I can pay way too much attention to the food races because we have been blowing away our opponents by that point in the game.

  4. Joetom / Sep 21 2015

    Here’s my thought on students leaving early and wanted to see what you guys thought. Not to start another argument about FCS vs FBS, but I think some of it may be that playing bad teams like (insert team we’ve played at home this season here) just isn’t exciting. So even though I was admittedly surprised to see so many students leaving at halftime in a tied game, my brother and I were talking on the way out after the game, it’s hard to get too excited about some of these games when you know what the outcome will be before you walk into the stadium and the other team is terrible. How many times in the 1st half did Albany’s QB overthrow open receivers? As you mentioned Vad Lee had a ton of turnovers in the 1st half as well and it ends up being a 14-14 game because Albany is just miserable. If JMU is going to stay FCS ok I don’t have much say in it I guess, but can they at least play better teams at home? I know CAA play is what it is, but Morehead St. and Lehigh aren’t very good. Liberty played Montana this weekend to a sellout crowd and I’m sure it was a great atmosphere, I can’t honestly say that seeing a half filled student section and then most of them leaving at halftime makes a great atmosphere, but I can’t say watching the teams JMU has played has done much to help that either. Just my two cents

  5. Drake / Sep 21 2015

    I’m guessing the paycheck will be decent after playing SMU, but originally, we were suppose to play Liberty this week, right? Think of the implications that game would have now! Two top ranked teams early in the season.

  6. JMU 2018 parent / Sep 21 2015

    Just a quick word about the student section on Saturday–our student stuck it out in the blazing sun but the rest of the family who had tickets moved to shadier seats for the duration. We met several students who decided to forgo the fun of the student section for shady seats with regular fans. Looking forward to the game this weekend even if I have to endure ESPN3.

  7. Andrew / Sep 21 2015

    Coming from a student, I’m kinda disappointed in my peers staying in their seats. One of the reasons is probably all the reviews and stoppage of plays. It was terrible. The first half took 2 hours, and it got very boring, so I don’t blame them for it

  8. KW / Sep 21 2015

    I realize that I am often a “get off my lawn” guy, but even as a former official (basketball) I was mystified at what that officiating crew was doing in the 2nd quarter Saturday.

    I will almost never call an official out on a judgment call, but misapplication of a rule is inexcusable — and that is what certainly appeared to happen on the extended reviews. I actually ended up sending an email to the CAA Director of Operations asking her to review the buffoonery. Why, I don’t know, but I did feel better afterward,.

    I did think the Back Judge should’ve penalized Coach Withers, while justifiably upset, with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, not a ‘sideline warning.’ Then again, maybe he was the smartest one on the crew and exercised prudent discretion and kept a ridiculous moment from become theater of the absurd.

    The upside of all the shenanigans, self-inflicted and official-driven, is that we turned the ball over 5 times (the 1st one was a wash and we gained about 32 yards on the play) and won going away with over 600 yards of offense — again. That won’t fly against the likes of UD or ‘Nova and apparently Stony Brook.

    It will be interesting to see what the severity of the injuries to the UNH and ‘Nova QBs. The UNH kid didn’t play at all and Roberston got hurt late in the UD game — the back-up finished off the one TD drive and got them into the end zone again to win the game.

  9. ShadyP / Sep 21 2015

    Glad to see Coach Withers and his staff make adjustments at half yet again and wake the Dukes offense up for the second half. Night and Day difference. As a QB you have of these games every once in a while, now that we got that out of our system full-steam ahead.

    I also think the defense played pretty well considering they had to weather 6 turnovers and a failed onsides kick (which I have no issue going for the kill there). Of the 28 points allowed: 14 in the 1st half came after turnovers and short fields. 7 in the 2nd half came after failed onsides and a short field. The defense only gave up 7 points when not working with short fields. That is pretty good and acceptable in my book.

    BAD + UGLY
    As for student attendance (I appreciate the few that stayed) but that was nothing short of embarrassing. The student side after halftime of the conference opener in a tied ball-game, that was pathetic. And please the sweltering heat on a day 85 degree day is just that an excuse, which the students get time and time again for any variety of reasons. The students get the excuse if it threatens rain, is cloudy, kickoff too early/late, boring brand of football…..and now weather was too good, smh. These 3/4pm kick are for the students so they are not too early and not too late as to interfere with Saturday night.
    – Weather was GREAT
    – Team is very good and plays an exciting brand of football
    – Student friendly game time.
    – Tight ball-game
    – Conference opener.

  10. Jay D / Sep 21 2015

    I think it speaks volumes when you have 6 turnovers and rack up over 600 yards and still win the game. I am hoping it was short field that hurt the de3fensive showing but a defense has to endure that. Officiating sucked as does being in conference CAA. I think moving up to FBS would get better teams in here to play. Having said that it would help the other sports that cruise through the CAA and then lose in the national playoffs. I am thinking Women’s basketball and softball. Enough said I know that is out of my hands. I just hope we focus and don’t get blown out at SMU. We sure shouldn’t go in cocky after Saturdays performance.

  11. ShadyP / Sep 21 2015

    Yeah if nothing else after that 1st half —-focus and attention to detail should not be an issue. The coaching staff should have no trouble keeping players focused from here on out.

  12. Dukes4 / Sep 21 2015

    Re student attendance:

    In Trumpish fashion (saying something no one else will), JMUDRU made a half hearted comment of allowing students to “tailgate” in Convo.
    JMU students seem to be absent from the pregame festivities out of fear.
    So, they skip the game.
    Not advocating anything… just commenting on observations .

    I visited some friends in the softball lot above Convo and one 20 something grad noted that one should not be able to move about when in a student tailgate section, and there were open spaces. While I found the atmosphere there to be festive and legal, Convo below was dead and they suspected the “old baseball lot” was probably the same.

    Perhaps there are other options to bring the students out into the fall weather… live music, free stuff, using their cards for food in the stadium, etc…

    By the way… there continues to be way too many open spaces in P lot.

  13. OuterBanksDuke83 / Sep 21 2015

    As far as the first half goes, I wonder if it was a matter of looking ahead to SMU. If so, this is a good learning opportunity for the team with no big price to pay.

    Does anybody know anything about They have JMU ranked #6 this week and last.

    Go Dukes!

  14. JMUDRU / Sep 21 2015

    Dukes4: I didn’t realize that the situation up there was so dismal to begin with…

    But that brings up something else that my friends and I have been talking about the past few weeks. Why did they force the student tailgates out to Convo to begin with? That is about as far away from the heart of campus (and where most dorms are) as you could get. Maybe next the administration will decide to move student tailgates to Memorial Hall?

    (Old) Baseball Lot and C-4 used to be the place to be on Saturdays in the Fall. Close to most dorms on campus or, at least, not the opposite direction of the Stadium for the majority of students.

    I’m going to take back my half-hearted comment from earlier. Let the kids tailgate! Take a page out of the Henrico Police strategy for the Richmond NASCAR weekends: Don’t arrest anyone unless they are being violent or just so ridiculously stupid that you have to arrest them to save them from themselves. Otherwise…carry on. Developing a reputation as a non fan-friendly venue is an attendance killer.

    Keep in mind this is all coming from somebody who is and always has been a very minimal drinker

  15. Mike in Ohio / Sep 22 2015

    I was at the game Saturday and thought the pre-game atmosphere was fine. People were tailgating and seeming to have a good time. Attendance was a little disappointing for a nice day but I think interest in the program is just sort of down or plateaued somewhat. After I got home I read a story in Sports Illustrated that said alot of schools are having trouble getting students to attend games and stay through the game-showed Alabama as one having troubles with this. If the game is big enough, people will stick around. No one was leaving the Appalachain State game early many years ago. People just have other interests these days and it was a little hard to sit through all of the game Saturday as it was taking 3 and a half hours. Is the Sports Blog crew going to tailgate at Homecoming this year? Of so I will look for you.

  16. 92Grad / Sep 22 2015

    6 turnovers is always bad and/or ugly. As for the students section, I agree with Smith above. There are likely the same amount in the stands, but they are more spread out. I don’t think it matters where the fans sit (students or others) as long as the crowd is into the game and the atmosphere is electric. Bridgeforth needs to be a place where other teams hate to play because of the drastic home field advantage that a ravenous crowd can give the Dukes. To accomplish that, we need more butts in seats whether they are students, alums or general fans. Best way for that to happen = KEEP WINNING!!!! This formula will work for the basketball program too.

    Go DUUUKES!!

  17. SeniorDuke / Sep 24 2015

    I just wanted to say as a Senior this year I too am disappointed in my fellow Dukes. I have been to every game since my Freshman year but a few that were after Thanksgiving break (only because I got kicked out of the dorm) this includes in the monsoon like downpours. The University this year hasn’t really been doing a great job with advertising games. Emails to get tickets have been scarce and the T-shirts and other free things we get haven’t been at the last two games. I remember getting emails last year at least twice reminding to get tickets for the game and advertising a free shirt. Also I had no clue there was student tailgating. No one and I mean no one in my years here has told me that. If I go tailgating its with a friend’s family. A suggest I always thought would be cool to get people to stay would be at the end of the game give out something like a coupon to Kline’s or another sponsor. As poor, broke, hungry students we like this sort of thing. I just hope in future games students will actually stay. I have so much fun and it makes me sad knowing people miss out. Go Dukes!!!

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