Sep 3 / Rob

JMU Stomps ECU to Kickoff 2017

JMU defeated ECU 34-14 in Greenville, NC last night. It was the Dukes’ 13th straight win overall and second in a row against an AAC opponent. The FCS vs. FBS element might lead to some assuming it was an upset. It wasn’t though. JMU is just a better team than ECU. The Dukes outplayed and out-coached the Pirates in all phases. Here’s the good, bad, and ugly from the win.

The Good

Rushing Attack – With all due to respect to former JMU stud running back Khalid Abdulllah, he wasn’t missed last night. That’s because Cardon (or is it CJ?) Johnson went straight beast mode. After missing the playoffs due to injury, Cardon came back with a vengeance yesterday. He ran for 265 yards and 2 TDs. He popped off an 85 yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, and added an 80 yard touchdown for good measure. Marcus Marshall had a 70 yard touchdown of his own and the Dukes managed 422 yards on the ground. Not bad for a team replacing one side of its offensive line and its leading rusher from 2016.

Offensive Line – See above, but these guys deserve a mention of their own. The o-line was one of the big question marks heading into this season. There were a few breakdowns with pass blocking, but overall, the guys pretty much overpowered their FBS opponents. They opened up a few holes you could drive a truck through and consistently owned the line of scrimmage. And shout out to freshman Liam Fornadel and redshirt freshman Zaire Bethea who both rotated in and played well.

Halftime Adjustments – The Dukes didn’t play very well in the opening half. They carried a 7-0 lead into the break, but failed to take advantage of several opportunities. ECU was very much in the game. Coach Houston and his crew righted the ship at halftime though and the Dukes took control after the break. You have to think that with a better first half and a full complement of players, JMU could have won by much more.

Defense When it Mattered – We’ll have more about the defense later, but the squad made the plays it needed to. Every time ECU started to get some momentum, the Dukes came up with a stop. And holding an FBS team with 85 scholarships to 14 points (7 of which were in garbage time) is pretty impressive. Also good, picking the ball off three times.

Bryan Schor – This kid is special. Last night he showed us once again that he has complete command of the offense. He played with complete poise, like he always does, and never seemed to get rattled. He’s not a burner, but he used his feet very well to extend plays and did a great job of scrambling for quick yards when things broke down. Just another efficient night for the Dukes signal caller.

The Bad

Penalties – Oh, the penalties. Cry all you want about the refs, but the fact is that JMU had 14 penalties for 172 yards. It’s stunning that ECU couldn’t take advantage of them. Better teams (and JMU will play better teams this year) will pounce if given that many free yards. We love the aggressive coverage that sometimes lead to pass interference calls, but JMU needs to clean things up in the secondary.

ECU Passing “Attack” – We don’t want to pour salt on the wounds, but it takes a special kind of awful passing game to not capitalize on a situation where the refs basically threw a foul every time the receivers got breathed on. ECU’s receivers dropped several easy ones and both of ECU’s QBs missed wide open receivers consistently. The Dukes won’t be so lucky against better passing offenses.

The Ugly

ESPN3 Broadcast – That was some hot garbage. If this game breakdown is even less informative that usual (and that’s saying something), it’s because I was forced to listen to huge chunks of the game when ESPN3’s stream dropped. When it was working, it was high quality. But then it just dropped for much of the second and third quarters. Fans were stuck staring at a error message or at commercials, which still worked just fine for some reason. It was a huge disappointment for those of us who couldn’t make the trip to Greenville.


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  1. 2004 Duke / Sep 3 2017

    The refs flagged my coffee this morning for pass interference.

  2. OBXDuke1983 / Sep 3 2017

    I think the number of pass interference calls was excessive, but many were legit calls. It is like the pitcher in baseball that consistently paints the corners early in the game. By the end of the game they are getting calls that are a foot off the plate. There were enough legit calls that as the game wore on the refs had their hand on their flag any time a pass went down field.
    Our secondary does need to clean that up some.
    I do think, however, that I am still very high on this secondary. I love how physical and tough they are. Also, I will take a 15 yard PI call over a 40 yard TD any day.

  3. Uncle Ron / Sep 3 2017

    The ESPN3 stream actually made MadiZONE seem leading edge. Still, what a great way to start the season!

  4. JrB / Sep 3 2017

    Dukes continue to impress and have set the bar very high after last seasons championship victory and this years opening day blowout. Going forward look for JMU to exploit the passing game and showcase the talents of Schor who I believe is the best pure passer in Division II ball..Last season in the playoffs he was $$$ Go Dukes!

  5. RJ Blanchfield / Sep 3 2017

    Bad: Kicking game. Missed FG & XP

  6. Cory / Sep 3 2017

    I was at the game. I would say half of the PIs were probably good calls. The other half were sh$$. Inexplicably they kept the flags in their pockets once the ball was in the red zone. The inconsistency was obvious. ECU crowd was accommodating except for two loud moths nearby that suddenly lost their voice went Cardon broke off a 80 yard run in their ass.

  7. Dukes4 / Sep 3 2017

    To Piratelager and ECU plank skunks: We are sorry for your loss as we rained on your charade. Now surrender your ship to the refs as payment for services rendered and send your rum to P Lot.

  8. Ken / Sep 4 2017

    Good: Sharp’s blitz pick-up on the TD pass to Carlton. He whiffs and it’s very easily a strip sack and momentum shift.

    Nice 4th down defense. We were helped out a couple times by poor snaps that threw their timing off, but the defense still had to make the tackles and they did.

    Shaky kicking game; good to see Ratke get a look on the final XP — message to T. Gray, maybe? Not sure I’ve ever seen a place kicker kick a spiral before…

  9. ShadyP / Sep 5 2017

    I was really pulling for Gray to hit that first FG, I think that would have been huge for his confidence. It looked like he just mis-hit that ball badly. But I swear I don’t think I have ever seen a kicker hit the goal post square so many times. No excuse for missing the XP, gotta drill those. I like that Coach Houston gave the other kid a shot on that last XP.

    Oh those PI calls…..there were many that were legit but 3 of them were really BAD.

    I think that call that ticked me off the most was the Roughing penalty for hitting Thomas Sirk……I am sorry but if you get ‘drilled’ after carrying out an excellent fake that is part of carrying out an excellent fake. That was a total BS call and the refs fell for his acting job.

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