Dec 19 / jmusport

Guest Post: Fond JMU Football Memories

Chuck won last week’s prediction contest for JMU’s victory over UNI. Here’s his guest post about some of his favorite JMU football memories.

For my prognostication versus UNI I’d like to thank two of my all-time favorite JMU football players, Scotty McGee and Jimmy F’n Moreland, for wearing the #19 and #6 jerseys. Knowing the game would be a low scoring affair, I opted to use their numbers for my prediction. In hindsight I guess I should’ve used Bryan Schor and Jim Otto’s jersey numbers. Yes, I know Jim Otto did not play for JMU…and, yes, I know JFM originally wore #37.  

While always a fan since graduating in the late 80’s, my heavy rootin’ didn’t start until 2005 – the 2004 Natty was a reawakening of sorts and I joined the Duke Club while also purchasing season tickets. I’m a huge fan of college football and this was a means to fulfill my appetite while supporting JMU athletics. Also it was a means to expose our two boys (at the time 7 and 4 years old) to the college atmosphere and JMU in particular. Below pic is circa 2007, pre-BFS expansion. While they both still follow JMU football they opted to attend schools with stadiums that 3 or 4 BFSs could fit in.

I think all would agree that “pre-gaming” has become as integral a part of the game day experience as the game itself – lubing up the vocal chords with cold beverages, catching up with JMU friends from the past and building new friendships. Our JMU tailgating ventures started in the parking deck – while it was an optimal location for sneaking beers in at halftime during the Montana playoff game (not that I would condone that behavior), it was not ideal for tailgating and a PITA to leave post-game. So a few years back we landed in lot C4 and couldn’t be happier – easy to get in and out, a lively crowd (though it does dwindle as the temperature drops) and an easy walk to the stadium. The irony is not lost on me that C4 is located on the grounds of our 1987 Senior Pig Roast, an event that will live in infamy as the first and only time I’ve been toppled over whilst in a Don’s John. Good times they were…

On any given Saturday we team up with good friends, Janice and John Dec, to eat, drink and laugh. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Janice’s tailgate skills are top-notch and an A+ on the tailgating grading scale. You can quickly determine if she has skipped a game as it turns into a BOC (Bucket O’ Chicken) tailgate. I know I speak on Janice and John’s behalf when I say that all of JMU Nation is welcome to join us in C4 for some pre-gaming. 

Some Fond Football Memories and/or Things I Miss (only includes since 2005 since I can’t remember anything from the 80’s):

  • App State game 2008 – still the most exciting game I’ve ever attended, JMU or otherwise.
  • The Jester in the student’s section circa 2007-09 – dude could pump up the student section and his outfit was on point.
  • U of R game in Richmond’s old stadium 2008 – aka “The Return”. A U of R friend told me he had never heard such an eruption of noise in his life when Scotty returned that punt. 
  • Obese, shirt-less bearded dude.
  • Any game Rodney Landers played in – dude was a human highlight reel.
  • Sam Houston is not a State game – just utter dominance and quieted their annoying fan base. It was cold, it was dark, it was beautiful. 
  • Natty vs. YSU – provided scientific proof that there is a level of cold that will turn Founders Oatmeal Breakfast Stout into slush. Still yummy though…
  • Natty vs. NDSU – despite the outcome, still a fun game…and the weather was significantly improved from the previous year.

As we are on the cusp of another trip to Texas, I’d like to leave with these parting comments:

  • If not already a member, join the Duke Club and attend football games (and other JMU sporting events, for that matter). From my own experience I can tell you it is a great way to keep engaged with your friends from college and make new ones. 
  • Please STOP complaining about the refs on social media. While we all know they are not elite officiating crews, I suspect they miss as many calls against us as they do against our opponents. Yes, booing during the game when they miss a call is standard protocol – but the incessant whining about the officiating on social media makes us look like, well, whiners.
  • When attending a football game please cheer, stand, stomp your feet and root hard – obviously this only applies when we are on defense. If someone complains about your behavior remind them that they are at a football game and that most churches have Saturday services if they’d like something more subdued. 
  • Weber is NOT a state!! (that is for John Dec)

See everyone at the game this Saturday – hope it is less of a nail-biter than the last time we played Weber. Dukes – 26, Cats – 12. 

GO DUKES!!

Dec 18 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Weber State

The last time JMU and Weber State got together in the playoffs, it was an absolute classic. This year’s match-up looks just as good on paper. And we want to know how you think it will play out. Leave a comment below with your prediction for Saturday’s game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score), will get to write a guest post. That’s it. So give us your prediction below and Go Dukes!

Dec 17 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Dukes Dominate UNI

The latest episode of the JMUSB Podcast is up for your listening pleasure. In it, we discuss the amazing effort by the defense in the win over UNI, look ahead to the semi-finals, and then wrap things up talking about some of our favorite nicknames of all time. Give it a listen.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Pale Fire Brewing and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass. And swing over to the fly shop, tell them JMUSB sent you and they’ll hook you up with some cool stickers.

Be sure to subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And give us a rating if you haven’t already. 

Dec 16 / Rob

Three Thoughts on JMU 17 – UNI 0

Survive and advance. That’s exactly what the JMU Dukes did in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FCS Playoffs. JMU took advantage of a stellar defensive effort and defeated Northern Iowa by the score of 17-0. It was the Dukes first ever playoff shutout.

JMU was much more dominant than the score might indicated. The Dukes out-gained the Panthers by 232 yards, limiting UNI to 114 yards while amassing 346 themselves. And JMU had an insane time of possession advantage, holding the ball for over 42 minutes.

The final margin might have only been 17 points, but it was far greater overall. And that’s largely due to the JMU Defense, which had a performance for the ages. UNI was held to only 7 first downs for the entire game. The Panthers had zero net rushing yards and didn’t cross midfield until the final two minutes of the game. There was absolutely nothing they could do. Here are 3 quick thoughts on the win.

The Defense Was Just Mean

You saw those stats above. They pretty much speak for themselves. Except they don’t, because they don’t allow you to see how physically dominant the JMU defense was. Well we have watched a lot of JMU football over the years, and can’t recall too many times where the Dukes have been able to manhandle another team like that. The Panthers could not move the ball.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve heard all of the talk about UNI’s offense being rather pedestrian. That’s true. But come on? JMU still prevented the #6 team in the country from passing the 50 until garbage time. That shouldn’t happen this deep in the playoffs.

No Style Points in the Postseason

We love watching JMU light up the scoreboard as much as anyone else, but let’s not freak out because the Dukes only scored two touchdowns. They absolutely left some points on the board Friday night. We know that. It’s a fruitless exercise to play the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” game in an attempt to demonstrate that the game very easily could have been a 4-5 TD shutout. The reality is that JMU played a very conservative gameplan and made some mistakes that resulted in missed scoring opportunities. But they still won. In the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Against a Top 10 team. And they’re moving on.

A Christmas Present from JMU

The Dukes reward for winning this game is a semi-final game at home this Saturday, 21 December against Weber State. And our fine friends at JMU Sports have a little Christmas present for our JMUSB community. Click on through to the ticket page using this link and you can get special $8 tickets for the semi-final game in Bridgeforth. Just enter promo code “SPORTSBLOG” when you checkout. And spread the word. JMU is doing this not only because they love you (they do), but also because they want to see Bridgeforth packed on Saturday.

Dec 12 / Todd

2019 Quarterfinals Preview: UNI at JMU

The Basics

Matchup: #6 Northern Iowa Panthers (10-4, 6-2 MVFC) at #2 JMU Dukes (12-1, 8-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. Friday, Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA

Weather: As rough as it gets. Seriously, pretty sure we can all agree that 29 and snowing would even be way preferable to 35 and raining, but here we are. The good news is that we don’t think the heavy stuff is going to come down for a few more hours!

Broadcast: ESPN2 – with the very solid Anish Shroff on the call.

Boys in the Desert: JMU – 19.5 O/U 47, ML -1250. This line has gone up all week and seems inflated based on the dummy public underrating of UNI. In any case, the high spread doesn’t match the money line so stay away.

A Bit About Northern Iowa

A regional public in the Cedar-Falls/Waterloo area, UNI is about the same size JMU was 25 years ago with just over 10,000 students. And similar to JMU, they began as the “Iowa State Normal School” and then the “Iowa State Teachers College.”

They play in the very cool “UNI-Dome.” Oddly, they’ve been a 1-AA/FCS powerhouse since just about the time JMU became one – losing the title game in ’05 to App. St. and spending most of ’07 at #1. But the teams have never met before. As we all know, Kurt Warner led the Panthers before his HOF career in the NFL. Like JMU, UNI is fairly well-rounded with their Athletics’ program, frequently near the top of Valley’s strong hoops’ conference and having authored a memorable upset of Kansas in the big dance a few years back. And like seemingly all Iowans, they care more than anyone else about wrestling, where they compete in the Big 12 with some of the true big boys of the sport.

Finally, for the old-heads on the message boards, one unfortunate fact is that UNI has one of the single-worst posters on the internet. He makes Soft Houston’s PodKnows look alright. He’s really right on par with ODuh’s Razor and the guy who almost ruined Montana’s whole program in terms of being a true ignorant douche-canoe. It sucks cause otherwise their fans seem pretty cool and it’s always hard to believe in FCS when one guy spoils a whole community’s opinion of a fanbase.

How UNI Can Win

The Panthers need to ride their legit Top-10 defense and the bad weather to an ugly win. Really it’s the same blueprint they followed last week when they recovered from a slow start and just generally mucked up the game in upsetting South Dakota St. 13-10 on the road. Even in the first round, they basically followed that script when they suffocated San Diego’s high-flying offense in a 17-3 snoozer.

UNI created turnovers in both games, most notably what became the game-winning pick six in their first rounder against the Toreros, and they’ll likely need to so again. Their 7th ranked Defense has given up just 10 points or less in six of their last seven contests.

On offense though, the Panthers have scored 30 just three times all year and scraped out 20 only once in their last five after losing so many of their weapons to injury. Pre-season All-American TE Briley Moore has been out since Week 1 when he was hurt at Iowa St. (though notably he could return this week and still redshirt). Top RB Hoosman has been missing for some time. And they lost top WR Isaiah Weston last week (questionable for this week). But they’ve been grinding the clock with Senior RB Trevor Allen and elusive r-Fr. QB Will McElvain. Nothing explosive – especially if they’re without Weston – but UNI has shown they’re capable of surviving.

How JMU Can Win

Protect the football. Hate to simplify this too much and really don’t mean to disrespect a gritty UNI team that has played arguably the toughest schedule in the country (Weber and Iowa St. out of conference plus NDSU, SDSU (2x), and ISU in the Valley. But they can’t score. And they’re massively banged up on offense. And JMU doesn’t haven’t anyone suspended (yet) for targeting this week. As good as UNI’s defense has been, it’s going to take more than 13 points, maybe considerably more, to beat the Dukes in BFS. If the Dukes protect the football, they should win this game. Forget the weather and handle their business and JMU will be back with better weather and a way better crowd a week from now. Really the best thing the Dukes beyond taking care of the ball is show just how dominant they are capable of being on the defensive side against what could be an overmatched unit in that matchup.

Beer of the Week

Bourbon. Cold. Dark. Perfect. Nuff said.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 30, UNI 9

Ugly. Ruthlessly effective.

Dec 11 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. UNI

The Dukes are moving on. They took care of business in their 2019 playoff debut by crushing Monmouth. Now they’ll take on Northern Iowa and its well regarded defense. And we’d like to know how you think it will play out.

Leave a comment below with your prediction for Friday night’s game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. It’s that simple. So leave a comment below with your prediction and Go Dukes!

Dec 10 / jmusport

Guest Post: The Prodigal Son Returns to the Fold

Matt Uliana won the prediction for the regular season finale. Here’s his fantastic guest post about his JMU fandom returning long after he played his last game for the Dukes.

The author taking down Georgia Southern QB Raymond Gross in pre-Bridgeforth JMU Stadium (1989)

I’ll start off my guest post by thanking Rob and Todd for giving me the opportunity to make this paltry contribution to their excellent blog. I was told that I could write about whatever I wanted (provided I play nice and don’t slag any players or coaches too bad), so I figured I’d write about the thing I like the most and know the most about…. me. Be advised – this post is long and completely self-indulgent, though I did my best to keep it relevant to the spirit of the blog. 

Like many of you reading this, I am not only a JMU sports fan, but also an alumnus. But unlike most of you, I’m also a former JMU football player – I was a member of Coach Joe Purzycki’s inaugural recruiting class, I played from 1985 through 1989 as a defensive lineman, and I started every game of the 1989 season at D-tackle. Oh, and I lead the team in quarterback sacks my final year (and if you don’t believe me, check out page 172 in the 2014 JMU Football Media Guide). 

Most college graduates I know look back fondly on their school years – it’s always about how it was the best time of their lives, how much fun everyone had, how they wish they could go back, etc. I have never once regretted my decision to go to JMU, but I don’t mind saying here that my undergraduate experience was, quite frankly, not all that great. Sure, I had lots of friends, there was quite a bit of alcohol and random debauchery, and I graduated with a good, marketable B.S. degree, but overall it really wasn’t fun. The main reason for that? Football. 

People occasionally ask about my playing experience, and they generally seem surprised when all I can say is that, in the end, I got more out of football than football got out of me. On the plus side? First of all, it paid for college – I graduated with a solid degree from a damn good school with zero debt. Second, it played a big role in my formative years and the experience made me a much stronger person in all aspects of my life. Finally, I had some truly memorable moments on the field my senior year, I ended my career knowing that I earned the respect of at least some of my opponents, and I was able to walk away from the game with a clear sense of closure.

So what was the downside? First of all, people don’t realize how much playing football at that level monopolizes your life. I won’t bore you with the details but trust me – playing college football takes a lot out of you and significantly limits your available time for scheduling classes, studying, and doing important things like beer slides with your friends in Shorts Hall or road-tripping to UVA on a Saturday to see Hüsker Dü’s final tour. That was all compounded for me by an injury in my freshman year that was initially mis-diagnosed, resulting in a string of setbacks that kept me on the sidelines for my first four seasons. On top of that, we were a perennially .500 team that was not terribly appreciated by the students – sure, people showed up for games, and they seemed to like it when we won, but nothing like the way it is today. The typical attitude other students had towards the football team in those days was generally somewhere between indifference and outright resentment because they thought we had it easy and got all sorts of free money and concessions just for playing a sport. 

Please don’t get me wrong and think that I’m whining or looking for sympathy here – as I said, I got more out of it than it got out of me and I don’t regret sticking with it to the end. But I didn’t have those feelings of gratitude at the end of my career, and when I was done at JMU I blew out of town as fast as I could and never looked back. I didn’t keep in contact with any of my teammates, coaches, friends, professors, anyone. Not only did I not follow JMU football, but I didn’t watch another football game on TV for well over a decade. To me, football and college were just a chapter in my life that no longer mattered, and I was onto bigger and better things. 

I ended up in Austin, got a couple of graduate degrees, met and married the love of my life, and started a career. I hardly thought about JMU at all in those years; in fact, I only found out about the 2004 national championship when I noticed JMU on ESPN playing Bill & Mary in the middle of December. Even after they won that first national championship, I still didn’t care enough to follow the team or even reach out to anyone from those days. 

Then around 2013 I heard that my nephew Andrew, at the time a senior in high school, was dead-set on going to JMU for college. Suddenly I had a direct connection back to the ‘Burg, and I started looking into the current state of my alma mater. What a surprise it was to find that

  1. JMU is a helluva lot bigger! More than twice as many students and extensive development on the other side of IH-81
  2. It’s still one of the best public universities in the state, if not in the country
  3. The football team knows how to win, has made regular playoff appearances since 2004, and – most surprising to me – has a rabid fan base that creates a hostile environment for visiting teams. 

Andrew introduced me to this blog and to jmusports.com, and he let me know about the first ESPN Gameday. Then he got a job with the team and spent his junior and senior years working as the videographer. Suddenly I was not only connected to, but legitimately interested in my old team. I started following the games, streaming video when available and, if not, following the ESPN gamecasts on my phone. I went on-line and bought official JMU Football t-shirts and wore them proudly. I followed the 2016 season religiously and told all my friends and coworkers about how JMU is now the Alabama of FCS. I watched the semifinals at the bar in my friend’s basement, shouting with delight as the mighty Bisons got taken down and as everyone else in the room tried their best to ignore me. Then, after the first of the year, I headed up IH-35 to Frisco, met up with some old friends, reveled in the drunken ocean of purple in the parking lot, and watched the Dukes do something that I once dreamed of doing, back when I was young and still loved the sport. And when it was over, I rushed the field along with everyone else, found my nephew, and managed to get the perfect shot:

Then as I stood on the field, watching those kids celebrate what may be the greatest moment in their lives, I had something of an epiphany. I realized that I am a part of the history of this team. Those years I spent on campus giving up a big part of my life (and my right knee) for this team has, in some small way, helped to lay the foundation for what has become a legendary sports program that is helping to create life-changing experiences for young men, guys that are not too different from the man I was 30 years ago. I’m really proud of that now, and I’ve come to realize that those days I spent on the Quad and on the field actually were some of the best of my life. 

So I’ll end this now by saying thank you to Andrew Uliana for reconnecting me to an important part of my past, to Rob & Todd for keeping me informed and entertained, to Joe Purzycki and all the my former teammates and coaches for playing such an important part in my formative years, and to all of you in the Duke Nation for building the best fan base any school could hope to have. I will see you all on the field in Frisco this January, either in person or in spirit, and I will keep rootin’ till the end!

Dec 9 / Rob

Three Thoughts On JMU 66 – Monmouth 21

Monmouth came to Bridgeforth Stadium ready to shock the world in the second round of the 2019 FCS Playoffs. The Hawks did not shock the world. Instead, the JMU Dukes weathered a lighting fast start by Monmouth and won going away. Things started off kind of bleak for Coach Cignetti and the boys when Pete Guerriero took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and proceeded to go 93 yards for a TD. Then after Ben Dinucci and the JMU offense answered with a 5 play 73 yard TD drive of their own, Monmouth took the ensuing kickoff back for 6. It was not an ideal start for JMU. The teams traded scores and ended the first quarter tied at 21. Long story, short, the Dukes absolutely crushed from that point forward. Here are three quick thoughts on JMU’s big 45 point win.

Steady as She Goes

We were both in the stands for the game. Maybe the vibe was different for folks watching on TV, but I swear, nobody lost faith even after Monmouth’s fast start. There was plenty of frustration in the stands, for sure, but nobody was panicking or worried that the Dukes were giving the game away in the first quarter. And that’s because there were no signs of panic by any of the players or coaches.

We’d be lying if we said we could tell you the players were thinking after Monmouth went to house on its first play. And we’re not even going to attempt to guess how they felt when the teams ended the first quarter locked at 21. But we sure didn’t see anyone who looked like they’d given up. And we didn’t see players or coaches losing control. We just saw a bunch of guys going about their business.

We’ve said all season that Cignetti’s no-nonsense approach, might not make fans want to run through brick walls, but it pays dividends when the team hits adversity. Yesterday was another perfect example. The Nooch and the offense kept going out there and marching down the field to answer Monmouth. It was as if they knew as long as they did their jobs, the D would eventually get it together, then they’d run away with it. This team is just so steady and determined. It’s a joy to watch.

Weapons and Weapons and Weapons

This is one of the most diverse offensive units that we can recall JMU having. Brandon Polk has done enough in his only season for the Dukes to be considered one of the greats. He caught 6 passes for 83 yards against Monmouth and became only the second Duke ever to exceed 1,000 yards receiving in a season. His battery mate Riley Stapleton did typical “Riley in the Playoffs” things, catching 7 balls for 87 yards. Jake Brown made a few big grabs and Devin Ravenel only had one catch, but it was a great grab that moved the chains on a wonderfully aggressive fourth down call. Oh, and Dylan Stapleton has also become a consistent and dangerous outlet for Nooch. There is so much talent in the passing attack that defenses are routinely forced into bad matchups that JMU can exploit.

And the running game is just punishing teams. JMU’s offensive line has been perhaps the most underrated reason for the team’s success. They’ve manhandled opponents all season, particularly deep in games when lesser units can fade. Juwon Hamilton and Percy Agyei-Obese keep defenses up at night by themselves. Throw in secondary options like Soloman Vanhorse and lately, Erik Kirlew, and it’s not a fair fight.

Hit Pause on the Attendance Shaming

First off, we admit that we’re guilty of stoking this particular fire with some of pregame comments during pretty much every JMU playoff run. Trust us when we tell that we do it more in attempt to rally the troops and encourage folks to go to games, than to actually knock folks who can’t make it to Bridgeforth week in and week out.

We’ve seen the griping online about how many (how few?) people attended this particular game. We were both fortunate to be in the stands though and we’re telling you, the numbers might have been light, but the atmosphere was still fantastic. We didn’t hear anyone griping about empty seats or wasting much effort even thinking about it. We all just rooted and enjoyed the day.

We’d all love the stadium to be packed for these playoff games. But we shouldn’t get so worked up about attendance, that we start taking swipes at each other or doing things that distract us from enjoying this run.

I’ve been a season ticket holder for over a decade and yesterday’s game was the first I was able to attend all year. Yeah, I feel sort of bad about it, but life happens. I’ve got a wonderful wife and two great kids. Weekends fill up fast and sometimes I can’t make the drive to the ‘burg to watch the Dukes. That’s true for a lot of people, especially this time of year. It does nobody any good to get all worked up about it.

I get it. I’ve gotten really worked up about poor attendance in the past too. Ironically enough, I’m 99.99% sure every time I’ve complained about the stadium looks, it’s been from the comfort of my own couch as I watch on television. I know how hypocritical that is. But I have a feeling I’m not alone. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we personally accept the completely valid reasons we have for not attending a game, while simultaneously discounting that others might have their own valid reasons and hoping they’ll drop what they’re doing to make up for our absence. I don’t know. The human mind is a weird thing.

When I’m in the stands like I was yesterday though, I’m having too much fun and not really concerned with much else beyond what’s happening on the field. So maybe the solution is that we all just root. If we’re sitting in front of our TVs, root. If we’re out running errands watching on our phones, root. If we’re in the stadium, root. Screaming about what everyone else should be doing or where they should be doing it from, isn’t going to do anything than take away from our own enjoyment of the games.

Dec 6 / Todd

2019 Round of 16 Playoff Preview: Monmouth at JMU

The Basics

Matchup: #14 Monmouth Hawks (11-2, 6-0 Big South) at #2 JMU Dukes (11-1, 8-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m., Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA

Weather: Sunny, High 44. Can’t ask for much better, but it’s playoff time and you know how the Valley gets at halftime when it’s dark so bring all the handwarmers (and the bourbon).

Broadcast: ESPN3. Thankfully, this is the free service for those with a cable package, not the ESPN+ so Dukes everywhere should be able to tune in.

Boys in the Desert: JMU -28.5 O/U 64, ML -7500 (YIKES!). This line has gone up all week and seems inflated based on the dummy public underrating Monmouth. Hope we’re wrong though!

How Monmouth Can Win

Do what they do on offense and disrupt the Dukes enough on D. Monmouth has scored with everyone they’ve played (including Albany and Montana) all season. Monmouth has wins over two more teams still alive in the tournament than the Dukes do (Albany, Kennesaw St.). They’re good. And any Dukes fans that think otherwise are the casual RVA fans who will be angrily yelling about the halftime score and pining for Houston while they’re checking the score on their phone in the bathroom while they’re making the turn at CCV on Saturday.

But what Monmouth really needs here is to take advantage of a Dukes’ defense that will be without DT Adeeb Atariwa for the first half thanks to the joke that is the CAA. They probably need their track superstar, and the nation’s leading rusher, Pete Guerriero to get untracked and stake them to a lead they can hang onto. Their dual-threat veteran QB Kenji Bahar, is really solid too, but he looked like maybe he was banged up in their blowout of Holy Cross last weekend so they’ll need to somehow come up with a way to protect him.

It’s really hard to see Monmouth completely shutting down the JMU offense, but if they can force turnovers to add to their own total, they could really put pressure on the Dukes and wake up the echoes of Colgate.

How JMU Can Win

Limit mistakes, hang tough mentally, and let talent and depth take over in the second half. Monmouth is legit. Monmouth will probably break off a big play or two in the first half. The Dukes need to keep their heads up and have a “next play” mentality. If they can take of the ball on offense, the Dukes line and talent should wear the Hawks down in the second half like we’ve seen so many other times this year. It may take a little longer against a veteran and motivated team with nothing to lose, but if JMU hasn’t shot itself in the foot, it will happen.

They also need to win the special team battle. Both teams have shown a penchant for less-than-stellar kick coverage at times this year and the Dukes would be well-served to be the ones to get it right this week. Also a spot where JMU athletes like Juwan and De’Angelo could do big things.

Lastly, it’s going to be really fun to watch the JMU defense try to rise to the challenge against the nation’s leading rusher. If they can survive the first half without Adeeb, the Dukes could give us die-hards in the stands the chance to yell our faces off this week.

Beer of the Week

Vanish Farmwoods Brewery’s Fat Boys Imperial IPA. It’s big and tasty and high ABV and it’s time for the fat boys to take over. Also, Vanish is amazing and you should make the trip out to Lucketts as soon as possible.

Official JMUSB Prediction

This game feels sooooo much like the UNH game to open the playoffs in ’16. We’re all a little skittish off last year’s Colgate debacle (same). We know the opponent is very capable and highly skilled but we “think” the Dukes are probably an order of magnitude better. And we’re watching our new coach that we’ve come to love and hoping his team can prove it when it counts.

Houston waited till pregame for the infamous and emotional war cry of “Lock the Damn Gates!” That was fitting for his style. Coach Cig just matter-of-factly tweeted out “No, it’s not” on a Monday. Seems fitting for him. As they say, different strokes. But let’s just hope the very different methods lead to the same iconic outcomes.

JMU 45, Monmouth 22

Dec 4 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Monmouth

It’s playoffs time and JMU is finally ready to take the field in round 2. The Monmouth Hawks will be the Dukes’ opponent. They’ll bring the FCS’s leading rusher to Bridgeforth and attempt to pull off the upset. And we’d like to know how you think the game will play out. Leave a comment below letting us know who you think will win and what the final score will be. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it. Now get ready to root and Go Dukes!