Nov 13 / Todd

Dukes Defeat Spiders on Senior Night for 22nd Straight; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Defense – What else is their to say at this point in the season? This week the defense faced BY FAR the best QB and group of wideouts they have all year (Wilkins ate us up) and somehow still managed to maintain their streak of a season’s worth of not allowing a team more than two TD’s worth of scoring. Incredible. No matter the record RU was good, maybe really good. We have no idea how they lost four games before this and the play Lauletta made on a swing pass to the left where he ended up having to pump twice to avoid defenders and then throw a perfect ball to a streaking RB for a huge gain was all the evidence needed to realize the Spiders were the biggest threat the Dukes faced all year. But the defense, top to bottom, was amazing. Fans need to stop freaking out when an opponent makes a great play. Sometimes it happens. And when you play press-man single coverage all the time and the other team has the talent to execute 19 yard back shoulder throws, you tip your cap and line up again. We won’t see another team capable of an aerial attack like this till mid-December (SDSU?) if at all, but that’s no reason to think the Dukes weren’t badass on Saturday. Hawkins and Hereford deserve special mention for generally being all-around insane football players. And one other guy that flashed Saturday whose number we haven’t called a ton this year was Ron’Dell Carter – looking forward to having him marauding around backfields next month!

The Drive – 55 minutes of disappointment. 55 minutes of all of us gnashing our teeth and sweating bullets. And then that! It was magnificent and it shut up the Spiders and about 20k nervous, whining Dukes fans. The offensive line, in particular the left side of Stinnie and Bolden, along with Trai Sharp, who appeared to take out all of his frustration at not starting on about three plays, simply took that game over and ended it. One of the best underrated moments from this game is also the fact that we know nothing. Despite fan angst, the team was loose, laughing, and clearly still believing they had it all along before that last drive. Way to go fellas.

The Crowd – Yes students left early (though I gotta admit I used to never bring my winter clothes till Thanksgiving Break and since they’re perennially underdressed it does make more sense than usual). But the fans that were there throughout were the best they’ve been all season and you could sense everyone rounding into cold-weather, bourbon-induced playoff form. Well done (mostly and more to come on this) Dukes fans. And a quick shout-out to the fans on the Godwin side in the middle two sections below the old press box. That section used to be all students but has morphed into quite a few STH’s, particularly young alums like our buddy Evangelista, over the last couple of years. They were fantastic throughout the game!

Elon for the title! – This is a bit of a personal one, but needless to say I’m thrilled the Dukes will be down here in my backyard playing for a title on real grass this weekend! If you can make the trip, it should be a great one JMU Nation.

Seniors – Winningest class in JMU History. Nothing else to say. Except THANK YOU of course!

The Bad

CAA gonna CAA – Let’s see, a bunch of unsportsmanlike penalties against the Dukes, including one on Jimmy for simply celebrating a pick with Jordan with the traditional hip bump, and then you’re gonna let a Spider flap his wings and dance on top of a JMU player for five whole seconds with no call?! And don’t get me started on spotting the ball and not reviewing spots. It won’t do any good to go through the list, but for the millionth time, it’s just such a kick in the nads reminder that for all of our incredible growth and atmosphere and stadium and big time feel and over-the-FBS discussion for now, the Crummy Athletic Association remains a low major on so many structural levels.

The Ugly

Rivalries are a tricky thing. They bring out both the best and the worst in participants and fans. This week I saw plenty of both. First, the Richmond cheerleading coach tried to get a family kicked out because a streamer fell on her, crushing her beneath whole ounces of tissue paper. And yes, a certain Spider threw up the alt-1 at fans. But it wasn’t one-sided. I witnessed a near-fight because of a mere bump between TWO DUKES FANS in the men’s room at halftime. The younger guy was so bombed he fell down in the concourse trying to extricate himself and thankfully found himself face-to-face with a Virginia State Trooper. But some of that stuff is peripheral. In other words, it’s not related to the game. What really drove me nuts was Dukes fans loudly, crudely, and ridiculously criticizing the coaching staff, play-calling, and performance of our beloved squad. Really people? Really?! Have we gotten so full of ourselves and so spoiled that we can’t take a deep breath and enjoy the majesty of trying to beat an archival fighting for its playoff life for a 22nd straight victory? If you think you’ve got a better idea than the group that hasn’t lost since the last presidential administration and won the Natty, kindly send your C.V. to bournejeff@goeffyourself.com. And despite my own crudeness there (sorry, I’m pissed on this one), a good buzz is not license to curse constantly. It’s cold, it’s nearly playoff-time, and in this case it’s RU. A little nip or two and a few wobbles is nothing the two of us can look down upon. And when a CAA ref does a CAA ref thing, if a heat-of-the-moment expletive slips out, we get it. But consistently showering the fans around you with your own four-word blackout vocabulary is just not a good look. Tailgate, tie one on, root like crazy, but do better.

15 Comments

leave a comment
  1. Jr / Nov 13 2017

    In watching the entire game i was frankly disappointed with the extracurricular activity exhibited by the Dukes players which potentially could have cost them the game. Yes, Rob JMU fans were Not impressed nor satisfied with the unsportsmanlike excessive celebrations and conduct exhibitions on the field by players and more importantly allowed by the JMU coaching staff. It certainly gave the appearance of a undisciplined team and actually took away from the game itself. So what you witnessed in the restroom by a student perhaps is part of a larger problem with the university itself allowing undisciplined behaviors which impact not only the reputation of the the student body and the players but the fans who come to watch them play… That was the Ugly sat and yes we as fans were not happy with that… Going forward my wish and certainly a lot others would be to clean this “ugly” up and it starts with those at the top… Go Dukes!

  2. Drake / Nov 13 2017

    A few friends were over and as non-FCS fans, got a great look at what our school is about. One guy said, “So you’re basically the Bama of FCS.” They were really impressed with Madizone.

    I don’t understand the fans who think the sky is falling. Just think at where we were last year at this time. Those same fans probably said our defense wasn’t good enough to get us deep into the playoffs. I get that we aren’t use to an offense that isn’t scoring 40 points, but we also aren’t barely winning games (minus Saturday). I’d bet that our defense has scored around the same amount of touchdowns that teams have scored on our defense (does that make sense).

    In regards to attendance, it has to be a good thing to get the bye on the weekend of Thanksgiving. I have no doubt that come December, it will be rocking and packed to the brim. Cold weather certainly helps and no one is going to want to get hit by our defense in sub-freezing temperatures.

  3. Swayze / Nov 13 2017

    TD, we need to find a happy medium… certainly not ok for fans to go ape on the best coaching staff we’ve ever had, but our play calling is pretty vanilla given the talent we have especially at QB and WR/TE. I’m sure some of that is intentional as we can afford to be conservative with the ridiculous D that we have, but it would be nice to see us open it up a little more early in the games. Also although this years RB/OL is more than very good it’s probably safe to say Khalid and our O-line last year was just a touch better and we totally mauled people on the ground last year. Which is even more reason to test teams with our WRs in the first half when we haven’t been able to control the game of the ground early.

  4. M@ / Nov 13 2017

    I have trouble questioning a coaching staff that hasn’t lost a (reasonable) winnable game yet. We attempted 32 passes and 39 rushes (misleading as scrambles, and maybe even sacks, count as rushes even though a pass was “called”). No way to know how many times they checked to a pass or vice versa either.

    If we take Schor’s 8 rushes out (some were scrambles and maybe sacks and at least one was a called draw), then it was 32 passes and 31 rushes. I like that balance. Yes I would kinda like it to be a 55% pass and 45% run, but I also like that this coaching staff doesn’t give up on the run game just because it isn’t working yet…maybe it’ll work at the end of the game.

  5. Deacon Danny / Nov 13 2017

    It is a great time to be a Duke! As many have made reference to, and I am as guilty as the next, the ‘Sky is Falling’, ‘doom and gloom’ attitude we can have at times (i..e O-line on Saturday getting beat in the trenches for about 57 minutes) needs to maintain perspective. It is not ‘doom and gloom’ by FCS standards but rather by JMU standards. By FCS standards all three phases are doing pretty darned well. By the JMU standards we have come to expect and, quite frankly, be a little spoiled by, there are still improvements to be made (when you stop getting better you give the competition a chance to catch up). I have the utmost respect for our coaching staff and I also know that we have the athletes. So I have to keep reminding myself that our coaches and players know what holes need to be filled and what areas of the game need to be tweaked. So to the coaches and players – you guys do what you need to do and we will keep Rootin! Go Dukes!

  6. Drake / Nov 13 2017

    Those 2 deep passes by Schor were beautiful. Teams are just putting their effort to completely shut down the run. Richmond’s coach said that was their plan. It’s kind of amazing to me that they would do that and not think Schor is a threat. I think people see him as a “game manager” which is such a dumb thing to say.

  7. M@ / Nov 13 2017

    Oh and another “Magnificent” moment. Early in the 4th we get the ball back after stopping a fake FG. The crowd is (understandably) excited and making noise. Schor flaps his arms asking for quiet…you could have heard a pin drop across the stadium. It was incredible and shows how far this fan base has come this season.

    We just won’t mention how that drive ended.

  8. Ryan / Nov 13 2017

    I’m not going to apologize for yelling “EFF YOU RICHMOND” (clearly using the full word IRL) and “RICHMOND SUCKS” every time we stopped them on 3rd down, I’m just not. Yes, my mom was there and yes, my 4yo niece was there. When we stop RU on 3rd down, it calls for a full standing “RICHMOND SUCKS” coming from section 212!

  9. ShadyP / Nov 13 2017

    I am not sure what someone was referring to but I quite frankly did not see any undisciplined play by #6 or #11 that warranted a penalty. As noted earlier #6 was celebrating directly with #44 following an INT and then headed off to the sideline. #11 was in the middle of a big scrum and someone the ref at the back of the endzone 30 yards away threw a flag that every official much closer did not see, come on guy. And if the CAA does want to call it that tight as the game was getting chippy in the 2nd half, #3 was blatantly taunting with no flag standing over someone on the ground, really.

  10. Kevin / Nov 13 2017

    Todd, not the way the bathroom deal went down.

  11. Nick / Nov 14 2017

    22 wins in a row…just think about that for a second. The defensive changes in just 2 years have been ridiculous and the offense is ready to step up when needed, as seen in critical playoff drives and oh yeah – 22 wins in a row. As far as the fans – I live in State College so when the Lions lost 2 in a row local people/students were upset and irrational. One woman told my wife at the grocery store on Saturday, “This is the first game I haven’t been to this year, but we aren’t #2 in the country anymore so it’s disappointing to attend a game”. (um they will finish 10-2 and most likely be in a New Years bowl, again, and will most likely be top 10, again..be a fan). Most JMU fans are fair weather and easily use the recent success to forget years of mediocrity, also known as the Micky Matthew Tecmo Bowl play calling years.

    CAA refs are the worst…

  12. sekudog / Nov 14 2017

    I just rewatched the game on Madizone (I was there live on Saturday) and I cannot believe every single spot we got from the referee crew was at least 1-2 yard short of the actual spot. Add that to the phantom personal fouls on one side and not on the other – I have heard the comments for years, but WTF did we do do deserve constant bad calls from the crews? Did something happen at some point or is it just a case of wanting to knock us off of a pedestal? It is ridiculous how obvious it is and I tip my hat to Mike Houston and his staff for not going ballistic on the sidelines. If Bo Pellini were getting the same calls, he literally would have ripped someones head off and be sitting on death row right now…..please educate me on how/why JMU has become the target of every referee crew in the CAA.

  13. 89 Duke / Nov 15 2017

    A couple of random thoughts….
    As one that sat in the stands through the Alex Wood years, the state of JMU football today is mind blowing!
    Coach Houston and his staff know more football than I would ever know even if I could channel my inner Walter Chauncey.
    Have we ever considered that possibility that we are not showing our full offensive ability since we have not had to ‘take it to 11’? (Spinal Tap reference for those readers under the age of 30)
    Doesn’t Coach Houston always say “as long as win by one”?

    We are witnessing history, let’s just sit back, enjoy and soak in the Purple Majesty we have the privilege of witnessing and rooting for every Saturday!

    Go Dukes!

  14. Gene / Nov 15 2017

    Couple of observations:

    1. When Schor fumbled a few plays after the Richmond fake FG, I felt completely confident that our D was not letting them in the end zone, and I’m sure a lot of other Dukes fans watching felt the same way. Think about that a second, in light of where our D was two years ago, or for that matter halfway through the 2016 season.

    2. It seemed to me that on the final drive, our coaching staff and offense decided to just go into full “eff-you mode” (to borrow Bill Simmons’ phrase) and say “our identity is to zone-block and run right at you, and if that’s not good enough, so be it.” Kudos to our staff for sticking to who we are.

    3. Anyone else think that Richmond’s D pulled up and let Sharp score? If so, smart move. They had an exponentially better chance of taking the ball and scoring a TD with ~45 seconds left than letting us bleed the clock and hope they block / we miss a chip shot FG at the buzzer.

    I’m hoping to make the trip over to Elon on Saturday and to see a lot of other Dukes there!

  15. maddukes98 / Nov 15 2017

    @ Gene – I looked at replay on Madizone and I don’t think they did it on purpose – we had two TE set and it just looks like our O line just decided to man handle their D line and line backers. Richmond would have saved their TOs prior to that once we had gotten in the redzone in my opinion and let us score faster if that was really what they were trying to do.

Leave a Comment