Dukes Overpower Elon, Receive #4 National Seed in Playoffs, VB/CC news too!
What a great weekend to be a Duke! There’s just so much to unpack today that some things will obviously go overlooked. We’re going to do this Good, Bad, and Ugly style for yesterday’s game and a few other items and then sort of have a “Part II” with our initial thoughts on the playoff bracket that was unveiled today featuring our beloved Dukes at #4 overall.
JMU Volleyball won the CAA title and is NCAA Tournament bound! – We don’t claim to know much but we do know the CAA title win over Delaware came on the heels of senior Janey Goodman receiving POY honors for the second straight year and junior Taylor Austin taking the Defensive POY award. Just as important, sophomore Taylor Gail earned a spot on the conference’s All-Academic team. The Big Dance starts in two weeks so we’re guessing there is some type of selection show next weekend.
Carol Strock of Cross Country won her second straight ECAC individual championships in New York and the Dukes took the team title as well! We know even less about this, but that’s a lotta hardware returning to the ‘Burg this week!
Cole Johnson and the plan for Cole Johnson – Now that we get back to the Elon game, pretty tough to beat a starting debut where you go 12-13 for 274 yards and two TD’s. And that throw to Kloosterman up the seam and the touch on the second TD to Taylor gave a glimpse of the enormous potential Johnson possesses! And obviously a great job by the coaching staff putting the kid in position to succeed.
Giving teams more to think about – So about all those wildcat plays? Since DaeQuan Scott left the ‘Burg we’ve been no fan of the wildcat, but Saturday’s usage of the formation was on the surface a way to help the true freshman QB making his first start. But just to show how ahead of the game Coach Houston and the staff are, it was also quite the little wrinkle to put on film for future playoff opponents to have to at least consider prepping for.
Tyler Gray – While some fans were frustrated with the Dukes stalling out for FG’s twice in the first few drives (and in one case refusing a penalty on a made FG that would’ve given them first and goal), it was really great to see the kicking game get some things straightened out. Also, I got to spend time in the halftime concession line with Tyler Gray’s awesome mom and it was a great reminder that a) parents of kickers have it the worst, b) we’ve been right that it’s a lot easier to live with ourselves and remain fans when we stick to our policy of not killing student-athletes for play on the field, and finally c) the fraternity of kickers at JMU is so so strong and supportive as it was no surprise to hear that both Cameron Starke and Ryan Maglio have been mentoring Gray through this up and down season and encouraging him to be ready when it counts. We’re betting he will be.
10-1, 8-0 – Not even the blindest of homers had the Dukes running the table in the CAA and winning ten regular season games for only the second time in program history. We know we didn’t. They’ve been playing so well lately that we’ve kind adopted the same one-game-at-a-time mentality the team has and lost sight of the big picture. But wow, in Coach Houston’s first season the record speaks for itself! Hats off to everyone in the program for one hell of a year. So far.
Domo Taylor – The big receiver had been relatively quiet during the back half of the season so it was great to see him get loose again yesterday and re-assert himself prior to the postseason. He’s a nightmare matchup and an enormous decoy even when he isn’t catching balls so long as opponents respect that he’ll get it if you leave him one-on-one. That’ll show on film.
MRD’s doing Purple Rain, enough said.
Not really a bad, but it’s just hard to know if the Defense built on their great performance the week before at Villanova because Elon is so bad. Not mad about the long play, but that drive after the half was not a good one to give up. That said, that was also Elon’s last gasp for the season and it may be more letdown at halftime of a blowout than something to be concerned about performance wise.
Only thing we can think of was that nasty turn in the weather right at gametime. Tough to blame fans who were tailgating beach-style and accidentally ended up at a Minnesota game. But hey, maybe it’s just good prep for the playoffs since now we all need to be ready for anything!
Quick Playoff Thoughts
We’ll have much more on the bracket at some point during this two weeks, but here are some quick reactions.
Heard The Citadel’s players cheered when Coach Houston was shown on tv during the Selection Show despite being in competition with JMU for seeding. That’s just awesome and says everything we’ll ever need to know about Coach.
KC Keeler appeared to whine a bit when Sam Houston St. and their undefeated-but-featuring-a-D2-game schedule were left out of the top four seeds and set up for a potential trip to BFS in the quarters. In related news, the sun came up again today. Having the old Delaware coach and all his ranting back in the ‘Burg would actually be really fun.
Look, the playoffs are tough this year. There appear to be at least 8-10 teams with a legit shot to get to Frisco and a ton more tough, frisky opponents playing the first weekend too. San Diego and Cal Poly are also rematching a regular season game in Round 1 so we can hardly complain about the potential for UNH again for JMU in Round 2. But we kind of love JMU’s side of the bracket. Not because it’s easy or anything, but it does set up a couple great things. First, by getting the four seed, as mentioned before, the Dukes are guaranteed at least two home games if they win the first. In other words, the Dukes might host Sam Houston St. on Friday night Dec. 9 or Sat. Dec. 10.
We also love being in the NDSU side. The hype for whoever goes to Fargo and ends the Bison run will be huge and a great opportunity for some real SportsCenter run for someone. Why not the Dukes?! I mean, they almost won up their with JT at QB1, we know they can do it with any of these guys ha. But…
There’s no guarantee NDSU will make it that far. SDSU, you know the team that already beat them this year, and a brutal Villanova team we all know and love (to hate), are both potentially in their path prior to the semis. Should JMU and anyone other than NDSU make the semis, that game would be at BFS on Fri. Dec. 16 or Sat. Dec. 17. Needless to say, that would be quite a show!
But before all of that, let’s just get a single playoff win over the winner of Lehigh at New Hampshire please. Don’t forget, UNH dealt with a bunch of key injuries and still forced the Dukes to play a very clean game to beat them in October. And they may not even get by a red-hot Lehigh team that would remind us all what happened last time we hosted a Patriot League champ in the playoffs. So let’s just get the first one!