Sep 25 / Todd

Dukes Finally Challenged And Fans Freak Out After 28-10 Win

As most close observers of CAA football predicted, JMU was finally challenged by a tough Maine team this weekend. An 18-point win that was not in doubt in the last five minutes is now the kind of ho-hum performance that has fans clutching their pearls. Good problem to have.

The Good

Defense – Four weeks, four times in the good for the D and starting to think we might be able to say this almost every time out this year. This week, the Dukes turned the ball over again, failed to find a rhythm offensively for the entire first half, and of course were missing players to injury and suspension. But led by a big day from Curtis Oliver and the secondary, the Dukes held another opponent to a minuscule output. Opponents this year have scored 14, 10, 14, and 10 points against the Dukes and a bunch of those were scored against the offense or special teams. Bottom line, no opponent is going to beat JMU with only two scores.

Dukes Never Disappoint – This team is starting to get a little of that ’08 feel when we used to say “Dukes never disappoint” even when things go wrong. For those who started watching FCS football just in the last three years, you may not be used to the fact that things go wrong sometimes. In fact, that’s really not that unusual at any level, but things like fumbling inside the opponents five yard line when you have a chance to ice a game do happen. But put simply, JMU is better than most teams and the talent takes over in the end. Yes, this game was frustrating at times in a way we haven’t really seen since at least last year’s Villanova game, but the Dukes pulled away to win by three scores despite an emotional week, a slew of new injuries, and of course the still-suspended crew. So pipe down and root people!

Archie and O’Kelly – Two young freshmen had breakout games this week and they couldn’t have come at a better time. WR Ezrah Archie had 8 grabs for 90 yards and a TD for a somewhat depleted receiver corps and looked even bigger and faster than we thought. He looks poised to be a big playmaker for years to come. And punter Harry O’Kelly had a sneaky-important day flipping the field for the Dukes often when they were struggling to find their footing throughout the first half. He’s been splitting time (competing?) with Jeremiah McBride, but those Aussie-Rules style punts are quickly turning into a weapon – even if it’s one we don’t have to deploy as often as this week.

Lobster!!!!! – No words needed. The prophetic Tim Emry of the Charlotte Dukes has been shaking his fist at clouds and predicting this would happen at a Maine game someday for years. And he was finally proven right! The Lobster finally took the crown in the food race to determine the 4th Quarter special, and yes, incredibly, JMU had $3 lobster rolls in the fourth quarter. Well played Aramark and JMU Promotions (why do I feel like Taylor Dewey was behind this?), well played.

Gabby Weiss and Women’s Golf – Yes, we’re slipping a non-football item into our gamer, but this one just made us happy. Had a chance to meet Gabby and her family when a tourney down here in North Carolina got rained out and I happened to randomly run into a soaking family in all JMU gear at lunch one day a few years back. Great bunch of Dukes from Pinehurst, NC! And this weekend Gabby, now a senior, had a fantastic closing round to lead women’s golf to their best scoring round of the year. And wouldn’t you know it, the team plays its next tourney on Gabby’s home turf in two weeks when they get to play at Pinehurst. Go Dukes!

The Bad

Injuries – Looking forward to hearing about John Miller and Garren Butler today, but hate seeing more important starters banged up after losing Cardon Johnson last week. The silver lining here is that WR Terrance Alls, LB Brandon Hereford, and the other suspended studs come back this week. How they are worked back into the fold could be a huge factor on the road at Delaware this week for good or bad.

Family Weekend Crowd – Great to see a sellout and some early rootin, especially on a hot day, but as is expected on Family Weekend, the fact the Dukes were battling through their first big test of the season didn’t stop Mom and Dad from packing it in early. When JMU hosts Villanova in three weeks the next time the Dukes are at home, it’s time to start rounding into playoff form people.

The Ugly

It’s Blue Chicken week. And as if that bastion of Havre de Grace/Newark trash wasn’t bad enough already with its ancient, awful Tub and its

Two sides of the enormous, three-sided, world-famous Delaware “Piss Wall.” Seriously, this is the men’s room at The Tub. Also, do you know how difficult and uncomfortable it is to try to snap a photo in this situation?! Talk about awkward visiting fan.

piss-wall (seriously), but now they’re coached by former Liberty and RU Coach Danny Rocco, who need we remind you once awarded a game ball to Danny Rocco. And now their entire geriatric fanbase thinks because they have a new staff and a bye (as did Maine) to prepare, they’re ready to compete with the Champs.

 

10 Comments

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  1. ShadyP / Sep 25 2017

    Great wrap and agree…..I share your venom for Rocco but the Coach is Danny Rocco…..his nephew is Mike Rocco. Easy slip up to make since he transferred and played for his uncle at RU.

  2. Todd / Sep 25 2017

    Thanks Shady and yup I just got my morons mixed up. Fixed it.

  3. Mike in Ohio / Sep 25 2017

    Thanks for the wrap-up. I always enjoy reading the blog. I came down from Ohio for SAturday’s game and enjoyed it for its competitiveness and liked seeing the Dukes respond after falling behind. I did not get the impression people were freaking out but there does seem to be an expectation that we will just roll over everyone. Perhaps Saturday’s game will temper that and make us remember there were many close games last year that could have been losses. Like you, I thought our defense was very good and if one takes away the 60 yard run by Mack, he had to work hard for his yards. But there did seem to be a little of the old Micky Mathews type of run defense going on where instead of tackling the runner, they were trying to strip the ball and while doing so, he runs for a few more yards. But overall, great defense against the run and pass. Someone else earlier on Saturday commented on the good running back who replaced the one who is injured. I will leave that to people who know football better and who have played but the offensive line seemed to have alot of problems opening holes and the running backs seemed to dance up to the line instead of hitting it hard. Until we wore them down in the 4th quarter we were mostly only getting 1 ot 2 yards per carry. And I think fumbling inside the 5 yard line is more than “well you get that in FCS play.” A TD there would have put some distance between us and them and because of the fumble it was still a tight game.

    But overall a good game to watch, even if most of tge crowd left early. I get back to JMU to about 2-3 games a season and am always impressed by how our football program is really a great game day atmosphere at an affordable price, in a great stadium for watching a game and with a team that is competitive on a national level. Even after all of tge tailgating is done the campus is clean and around here, after an Ohio State game, the place looks like a trash dump. We JMU alumni, students and fans are very fortunate.

    Finally, do the sports blog writers have any plans for being at any of the remaining home games and tailgating? If so, let us know. We have some Ohio brewed beer for you as a present for all of your work. Rumor has it you guys will drink anything…even Ohio brewed beer. We are planning on being at the Villanova and Richmond games…not sure about HC weekend. But if you are there when we are, we will bring it by to you. Go Dukes and appreciate your work in keeping us informed on JMU sports.

  4. Chris / Sep 26 2017

    Ugly- targeting penalty two plays later, which gave the ball back to Maine with 1:30ish left on their own 12 yrd line. That was bad even by CAA standards. Then, we get all this clown chatter about how we only won by 18…

    I have all the faith in the world that HCMC will have the Dukes ready for Saturday. The Hens are going to give us everything they got. GO DUKES!

  5. Todd / Sep 26 2017

    Mike in Ohio – Thanks for the kind words, and of course the tailgate offer. It’s likely at least one of us will be at each of the remaining home games, though like you HC is the one still in question. We will definitely be at Nova and RU though and would love to share an Ohio beer!

  6. OBXDuke1983 / Sep 26 2017

    What is the word on Cardon Johnson? I was watching the game from a hospital ER room (no sound) so I don’t know if anything was announced. Didn’t see anything on the JMUSports website.

  7. Todd / Sep 26 2017

    OBX – CJ is out for the year and had surgery. They did discuss the possibility of a medical redshirt potentially giving him a 6th year of eligibility next year, but that’s not usually something that gets decided till after the season – last year I think we found out about Raven Greene late in the playoffs for example.

  8. Herb / Sep 26 2017

    How can we keep the students from leaving at halftime? It was a tight game for crying out loud, and still half the students left the stands!!

  9. Cory / Sep 26 2017

    Excited that our suspended players are back this week. Just a side note though. The majority of the players suspended were on defense so the offense may not get the spark expected with their return. My opinion is that this year’s offense will be last year’s defense. Sputtering to start the year but they eventually find their groove and start dominating high quality teams.

  10. ShadyP / Sep 27 2017

    I think getting Alls back will be a nice boost to the offense and getting a healthy John Miller hopefully.

    Alls had great rapport with Schor, has the speed to get deep, and a good route runner.

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