Sep 5 / Todd

Dukes Destroy Records, Crush Souls in 80-point outing

So remember how we were worried about the transition from Withers to Houston and whether the offense would lose some of the firepower it demonstrated the last two years. Well, 80 points, EIGHTY, pretty much answers that.

The Good

Pretty much everything. Seriously, the generally mistake-free play, especially but the starting units, was a refreshing change from one of our major complaints about the last two years (major complaints being defense, over-cuteness on O and Specials, and occasional lapses in discipline – and of course not winning playoff games). It’s cliche, but the best way to describe it is the Dukes looked “sharp” and/or “crisp.” They just looked like an outfit that knew what it was trying to accomplish, how to do it, and was just able to play football without overthinking. That’s the biggest takeaway, but it still remains a huge question mark as to whether that was merely showing out against weak competition? That said, there were a number of specific things that were particularly pleasing in Week 1.

Scoring TD’s on the first 7 possessions – Houston era finally went to crap when they kicked a field goal on the 8th.

The running game – Cardon Johnson and Trai Sharp both went over 100 yards as did Bryan Schor. Abdullah was a beast (and hopefully wasn’t nicked up on his last play??) as usual and Taylor Woods chipped in 89 yards and an easy 3 TD’s. Now THAT is a rushing attack that the rest of the CAA and FCS better be ready for.

Seemingly no new injuries – WR Ish Hyman was out this game, but that was known coming in. So far, no major news of anything else from this game which is always huge in these “scrimmages” JMU’s scheduling people try to pass off as games.

Ohhhh, that running game is gonna be brutal!

Ohhhh, that running game is gonna be brutal!

Bryan Schor – In case you were wondering how Schor held off South Carolina transfer Connor Mitch for the QB1 spot, 8-11 passing, over 100 yards rushing with three TD’s answered the question. Interception notwithstanding, it is definitely possible Mitch has the better arm, but this is going to a run first team and “command of the offense” and running ability are probably more important this year than pure passing skills. Schor looked every bit in control Saturday – especially on plays like the one where he realized he had a free play when the D jumped offside and immediately threw deep for Domo Taylor.

Special Teams! – What a difference from last year. It really is amazing when you don’t overthink kickoffs. Kick it as far as you can and go cover. If it’s a touchback, great, but playing cute and trying to pinpoint balls to the corner inside the 10 led to some real misadventures last year. This team covered great and didn’t mess around. The Dukes also got an electric punt return TD from Rashard Davis (who should get his own mention for being heavily involved all-around) that bodes well for a return to the fireworks we used to see consistently from vintage JMU teams in this area.

Raven Greene – Was simply everywhere on defense and always around the ball. On a day when lots of players put up stats or looked great (Robinson, Sharp/Woods come to mind), Greene looked like the best player on the field.

Curt Dudley and Adam Coolbaugh’s MadiZone call – JMU student Coolbaugh was a solid and competent compliment to the sweet stylings of Mr. Dudley. Curt was in exquisite form, especially when the game got out of hand and he trolled the fanbase with a  chuckle and a “monitoring” and then broke away to interact with those following along from home. Bravo!

Welcome back Jimmy ‘effin Moreland! – Of course he found himself a pick in his first action in two years and darn near blocked Morehead’s extra point if I’m not mistaken. Nice to have a reserve with that kind of playmaking ability.

The twitter comment late game from @hensleja asking “do we get free nuggets since the Dukes scored 79 points?” For those who have suffered through some lean years at the Convo, that had to have gotten a laugh.

The Bad

80 sounds fun and cool and all and it’s a big, wonderful, whopping round number that will turn heads, but it will also raise a few eyebrows in suspicion since you could also see it as a bit of a bad look given the non-scholarship Pioneer League opponent. The crazy thing is the Dukes only scored seven in the fourth and really played very few starters of consequence after halftime. 28 in the first and 24 in the second quarter is where the damage was done and you can’t blame a team or a coach for getting his guys a full half’s worth of work in the opener no matter the score. The difficult thing was it was actually hard to stop scoring between the big plays on Special Teams where you’re going to leave your 1’s in the game and the consistent mistakes by Morehead. For the record, we also don’t blame the coaches one bit for letting both QB2 Mitch and QB3 Etheridge throw a couple times each as they need the work too.

Dan Schiele’s touchdown being called back. The senior, who came to JMU as a QB and has had a long, patient journey to the field as a backup Tight End, appeared to have caught a touchdown in the third quarter, and the excitement from his teammates was incredible. Alas, it was called back by a lineman downfield penalty. Hopefully he’s got more highlights to come this year!

The Ugly

Morehead St. is an improving team the last few years. They have legit hopes for a Pioneer League title and the automatic berth that somehow accompanies that distinction. But that was grundle-butter level awful on Saturday and such a reminder that non-schollie vs. schollie is simply unfair on about 63 different levels. The turnovers they committed in the first half to really make this thing non-competitive were downright ridiculous. The Dukes themselves played almost no part in the Eagles simply giving them back the ball and that just can’t happen when you’re overmatched. Let’s just hope the Dukes don’t incur the same type of self-inflicted wounds when they play their own big step up in competition two weeks from now at Chapel Hill.

Central Connecticut St. up next – yes, they have scholarships, and yes they’re a real team that should be much stronger than MSU, but man, this is a snoozer of a couple games to start the season.

11 Comments

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  1. Kevin McWhinney / Sep 5 2016

    schoollie vs. non-schollie unfair? any more unfair that FBS playing FCS and making those games count? Except if you’re Virginia, of course…

  2. ShadyP / Sep 6 2016

    You hit the nail on the head and could not agree more.

    – Schor showed why he is QB1. Looked much more poised (no happy feet) and sure of himself.

    – What a stable of RBs, impressive at any level.

    – Thank you for just kicking the freaking ball off high and deep and trusting our guys to cover it. Great job all night by that coverage team.

    – Defense looked far better than last year. Even against the same opponent last year they did not dominate on defense which they did this year.

    – The team looked very disciplined and focused even as the game got out of hand.

    – Can’t blame someone for running up the score, when every TD came on the ground and you throw for like 120 yards. You cannot hand the ball off and tell the guy to just fall down.

    – THE BAD — that BS targeting call late in the game. That was an AWFUL Call and I hope there is not a big return of targeting calls this year. I hope this was just seen as an opportunity to call targeting when it would do no damage.

  3. Deacon Danny / Sep 6 2016

    Regarding Kickoffs, Agree 100% on accessment. “It really is amazing when you don’t overthink kickoffs. Kick it as far as you can and go cover. If it’s a touchback, great, but playing cute and trying to pinpoint balls to the corner inside the 10 led to some real misadventures last year. This team covered great and didn’t mess around.”

    Targeting… Two years ago, ‘Targeting’ seemed to be the ‘In’ thing for CAA Refs to key on and it seemed like any hard hit often equated to automatic targeting. Last year, they seemed to back on on the Targeting calls a bit. I hope the CAA refs are not back on this kick this year because they struggle in making correct calls, IMO, on these.

  4. 2004 Duke / Sep 6 2016

    I really wish that we were playing someone meaningful in our non-conference schedule. They don’t have to be “good” necessarily, but at least something interesting. Like SOCON or a Patriot league teams. I wouldn’t have said this back in the A-10 days when our conference was essentially a 10 week playoff, but that isn’t the case anymore. I wasn’t excited about Morehead community college and I’m really not interested in Central Connecticut State Tech A&M College. Glad the Houston era started with a bang, but call me when we’re playing Richmond or Villanova.

  5. Jay / Sep 6 2016

    Dukes looked impressive Saturday though their opponent was anything but good. I do believe our defense is vastly improved even when we play good competition. I also agree specials teams were good. I like kicking deep and letting them cover that is what football is about. looking forward to this season and GO DUKES!!!!

  6. ShadyP / Sep 6 2016

    2004 – I agree with that take on scheduling. I don’t have any issue with one OOC game versus Pioner/NEC/MEAC team but would prefer the other to be from OVC/SoCon/Patriot/BigSouth. And I think that is what the CAA is trying to establish in the near future.

  7. Bryan / Sep 6 2016

    2004 – Exactly. I have not gone to a game at JMU in a while because really none of the games really seem that interesting. Yeah the in conference games are fun but we get the same slate year in and out. My favorite JMU moment was the 2008 game vs App State. Bridgeforth was absolutely rocking that day and the tailgate was fantastic. Bring someone decent to Bridgeforth again and you will bring the crowds. Keep bringing these turd sandwiches and no one will care.

  8. M@ / Sep 6 2016

    The targeting call upset me especially since it was unavoidable (he did hit the guy in the head with his shoulder pad, but only because another duke dragged the guy down at the last moment). What upset me more was that a hit out of bounds against one of our guys wasn’t called a few plays later. Call it fair or don’t call it.

    Last year after three weeks I still didn’t know what to make of the team because of the competitions we faced (including the 1-A team we beat that wasn’t so good). The team (especially the defense) looked inconsistent to me despite the bad teams we played. While I wouldn’t make a lot of deep predictions based on this game, at least they guys looked good. Now I’m hoping the guys aren’t looking at the headlines and thinking they can slack off. Coaching will tell a lot this coming week. Are they still sharp? Or have they read too much?

  9. M@ / Sep 6 2016

    I would also like to “Like” Kevin McWhinney’s post. Love those Whaaaa hoos.

  10. 2004 Duke / Sep 6 2016

    I wouldn’t worry about the kids getting big heads over this game. When we used to shellac crap teams like Lock Haven or Liberty (…I had to) by +40 points, we all knew it didn’t mean anything. Fans hate these games because they are boring, and players hate them because you risk injury for no good reason. Nothing sucks as bad and turning an ankle in a 50 point blowout over Northeast Cupcake A&T (even if the score is 0-0) and missing out on your shot at the Blue Chickens or Bill & Gary.

    Even when you break down the film, the coaches don’t give you any credit for schooling someone because “he’s a just walk-on”, meanwhile if you mess up, you get reamed for getting beat by a “high school scout teamer”.

    Hated these games as a player. Still hate them as an alum. Did we pay Morehead to come to HBurg? That might give me a stroke.

  11. Andrew / Sep 7 2016

    The special teams, specifically the kick coverage, really surprised me. Throughout camp and the week’s practice, the coverage wasn’t the particularly the best. Glad to see the miraculous improvement on game day.

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