Apr 10 / Todd

2017 JMUSB Spring Game Recap

Jordan Brown Returns Interception for TDYou’re darn right we’ve got spring game coverage this year. That’s what another title and a beautiful Saturday in the Valley get you – a legit tailgate and crowd at your spring game. And thankfully for us, our #1 staffer and friend of the pod (just sounds better than friend of JMUSB and maybe saying it will motivate us) Mike Evangelista (@Michael_2Clutch) was kind enough to break it down for us with editorial flair we might add. Huge thank you Michael! Enjoy:

The annual spring game is often a confusing time for the casual spectator: “Who is JMU playing?” “I thought football season is in the fall?” “Didn’t the season end in like November?” For others like us, it’s a teaser for next season’s campaign; a time to be overly critical and read into every inaccurate pass, missed block or tackle. Let’s all admit, nobody predicted the Bryan Schor we saw last spring was going to morph into the best quarterback in the country, capable of orchestrating a game winning drive to take down the Bison at the Fargodome.

Coming off a historic 14-1 campaign that ended with a national championship, the buzz is “real” in Harrisonburg and fans all over the world are certainly drinking the kool-aid; just take a peak in the “JMU Nation” group on Facebook…if you can get in. On a beautiful 65-degree Saturday afternoon, the fans certainly came out in full force; packing Godwin Field to tailgate, to enjoy a picturesque JMU afternoon and more importantly, to support the Dukes.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the game:

  • Elite DefenseMike Houston’s hire of former Richmond Defensive Coordinator / Rocco staffer, Bob Trott, has paid massive dividends for the Dukes. His defense looked fast, physical, sound, and dominant during the spring game. Notably, the defensive line was stout and the safeties filled the run lanes with reckless abandon. The defense had 3 interceptions (D’Angelo Amos, Adam Smith and Jordan Brown), a blocked field goal returned for a TD (Jordan Brown), and 4 sacks from a number of defenders. Moreover, key players like Dimitri Holloway, Darrious Carter, and Raven Greene were all inactive which made the performance even more impressive. Additionally, it was refreshing to see Andrew Ankrah in a true 3-point stance all game rather than in that awkward 2-point stance you’d often catch him in. Coming off the tremendous momentum during the playoffs, Trott’s gang will be even better for 2017 and should be one of the top units in the country.
  • Physicality – While it’s difficult to put much weight on a glorified practice session, the level of physicality and competitiveness was evident. On defense, players like Maryland transfer linebacker Gus Little and senior safety Jordan Brown seemed to be in on every defensive stop and newbies like freshman safety Reggie Collins, freshman defensive end Marcus Hawkins, freshman safety D’Angelo Amos and freshman defensive tackle Rondre Knowles-Tener made their presence known. On offense, the size of sophomore wide receiver Riley Stapleton and freshman Braxton Westfield were difficult to contain on the outside while back-up sophomore tight end Nick Carlton made some noise down the seem versus the linebackers. While outmanned without their starting offensive tackles (Aaron Stinnie and Tyree Chavious), sophomore Mac Patrick looks to be a future all-conference player and sophomore left tackle Jahee Jackson showed potential on the blindside.
  • Bad Special Teams – JMU’s specialists struggled during the afternoon with shanked punts, blocked field goals, and even when the field goals did go in, the procedure wasn’t pretty. All of us held our breath before each kick. In one particular play near the end, Jeremiah McBride finally got his foot on the ball just right resulting in a booming punt; some of us even stood up and gave a nice encouraging golf clap to end the day. The good news is our starting kicker, Tyler Gray, was inactive, we have an Aussie punter coming in that’s supposed to be pretty darn good, and we had John Miller and Jimmy Moreland line up as returners. The JMU special teams unit has a long way to go but has plenty of time to improve under the tutelage of John Bowers.
Can't wait to watch this guy...

Can’t wait to watch this guy…

All in all, it was a successful day for the Dukes. The fan support was outstanding and there was plenty to be excited about. Cole Johnson aka “Baby Giraffe” got banged up a bit but definitely looked the part as the future quarterback of JMU, Georgia Tech transfer Marcus Marshall’s strength and speed will be a difference maker in the fall, and JMU should be even better on the offensive and defensive lines given the returning talent. Last but not least, there were a number of offers given out to a few highly touted recruits and…there may have even been a little rumor of a P5 transfer joining the program in the coming weeks.

Hope you enjoyed this year’s recap and Go Dukes!!!

Notable Prospect Offers:

LB Mateo Jackson, Hermitage HS (VA): 6’2 220, offers include Navy, Army and Richmond

RB Cole Beck, Blacksburg HS (VA): 6’1 185, offers include Western Michigan, Marshall, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Delaware State, Kentucky Christian and Massachusetts

LB Jamar Darboe, Christchurch School (SC): 6’1 230, offers include Maryland, East Carolina, Liberty, Howard, East Tennessee State

OL Henry Chibueze, Woodbridge High School (VA): 6’2 330, offers include East Carolina, Liberty, North Carolina

RB / FS Rakeem Davis, Charlottesville High School (VA): 5’9 165, younger brother of WR Rashard Davis

but don't forget about this guy!

but don’t forget about this guy!

7 Comments

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  1. M@ / Apr 10 2017

    I admit I have trouble believing this coming year’s o-line will be better than the one that just graduated (mostly). They were the definition of dominant and that doesn’t happen every day. But why not? Optimism is a thing, right?

  2. Sunchase / Apr 10 2017

    ^^only big question coming into the season, really. How the offensive line sorts out determines whether JMU is on the short list for title contenders vs the long list of also-rans.

    I do think we can win the CAA again, even with mediocre o-line play. that schedule is friendly as hell.

  3. Michael / Apr 10 2017

    Hey guys, love the feedback! When you factor in guys like Mac Patrick at Center (played very well vs. NDSU), Tyree Chavious at Right Tackle (earned his scholarship in the playoffs) and potentially Nick Edwards (sr.), Jahee Jackson (rsoph.), Gerren Butler (rsoph.) at Right Guard. I see the potential for the OL to be even better with their level of talent, athleticism, and experience in the program.

    They also have the next 4-5 months underneath Big John to get bigger, stronger and quicker. I trust Stinespring will have them prepared and ready to go come fall as well.

  4. Kevin / Apr 11 2017

    “seam”. not seem.

  5. Michael / Apr 11 2017

    Nice eye Kevin, I’ll let you proofread next time. I’m sure there’s more in there.

  6. ShadyP / Apr 13 2017

    I agree, I do not anticipate a dropoff with the OLine play and expect it to be a strength again this upcoming season.

  7. M@ / Apr 18 2017

    I didn’t watch the spring game and I don’t pay that much attention during the offseason, so I’m hoping the optimism I see above is justified.

    Didn’t the o-line coach also leave? Dude deserved a raise after last season IMHO.

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