Nov 1 / Todd

2018-19 JMUSB Game Preview #9: JMU @ New Hampshire

Settle down Dude, nothing is effed!

The Basics

Matchup: #2 James Madison (6-2, 4-1 CAA) at New Hampshire Wildcasts (2-6, 1-4 CAA) at

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Saturday, Wildcat Stadium, Durham, New Hampshire

Weather: 90% chance of rain, cloudy, high 57, winds 10-20 mph

Coverage: Fox College Sports (Spectrum Carolinas Ch. 372 with sports package), foxsportsgo.com, CAA.tv ($ppv)

How New Hampshire Can Win

Just take out all their frustrations on the Dukes and have all-everything Senior QB Trevor Knight beat JMU over the top the way Elon’s Davis Cheek was able to. First of all, the Wildcats have to be considered angry and dangerous. They were ranked in the preseason Top 5 with a veteran team returning and an unrivaled 14 straight years in the FCS playoffs. Unfortunately, they were heavily dependent on Knight’s dynamic abilities and when he was injured in Week 1, what turned out to be an absolutely brutal schedule parked the UNH car in the garage before the playoff race ever really got interesting. Knight went down in the first half of what turned out to be a loss to what we now know is a legit Maine team. Then they went and lost to a Patriot League team before that team turned into currently undefeated Colgate. A loss to FBS Colorado is no problem before road losses to what we now know is the power of the CAA in a then-healthy Elon, Stony Brook and Delaware. They managed to pound the two bad teams they’ve played in Holy Cross and last week a deflated Villanova team by a very JMU-ish score of 34-0.

In other words, we really can’t read anything at all into UNH’s terrible record. Or…as Parcells always said, at some point “you are what your record says you are.” Who really knows? All we do know is that UNH has a tough D ranked 3rd in the CAA and an offense that, now that their leader is back, is capable of testing JMU as much as anyone has this year. The big key for UNH is to have success early to keep morale up. At 2-6, they’re playing for pride and the playoff streak is over. They’ve played well the last few weeks, but even so, if they fall behind early, it’s tough to see them stepping up the fight in the second half.

Oh yeah, one more thing on UNH. As well all know, JMU NEVER plays UNH without the Wildcats attempting some Boise-level trickeration at some point. At 2-6 against the big-dog Dukes, it’s a lock we’ll see every double-pass, flea-flicker, fake punt, and guy hiding in the end zone paint on a kick return that legendary Coach Sean McDonnell can dream up. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

How JMU Can Win

Bust big plays! It’s going to be rainy and typically dreary on the last pre-time-change day way up in Durham (don’t worry it’ll still already be dark at game’s end and how do you people live up there?!). And Knight and the ‘Cats are capable of beating the Dukes. But 2-6 is 2-6 and as good as Knight is and as consistent as UNH has been over this incredible run, the last few years have shown the Dukes simply have more athletes when you compare the lineups top to bottom. Don’t get us wrong, UNH has a few great players and lots of solid guys, but from Abdullah to Alls to Moreland, they’ve managed to make a few big plays that most teams simply can’t make against the Wildcats and they need to find a way to break those plays open again this year. Unlocking the end zone, instead of the “moved the ball well” zone is the key for the Dukes. Even better, if they can do it in the running game and do it in the first half, they’ve got a shot to crush souls on a nasty day against a team battling through an unusually tough year.

Beer of the Week

Commonwealth Brewery’s Marvolo Imperial Chocolate Stout. Face it, you haven’t broken out of the sugar rut you dug yourself out of your kid’s Halloween candy and the now-overflowing office bowl. Or maybe that’s just us. But either way, this is an insanely drinkable stout. Pretty much everything about this beer is easily an “A.” It’s so full of chocolatey goodness you’ll completely overlook the 8.7% ABV. It’s named Marvolo in a great post-Halloween way (if you know, you know), and even has a dark-markish design on the back of the label. In other words, for a cold, gray, rainy day way up the heck in Durham, New Hampshire, you couldn’t ask for anything better.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes 34, Wildcats 13 – Team is just too good not to bust out at some point and we’re thinking this is the week things click a bit in the running game and the Dukes at least begin to press the gas before dropping the hammer next week.

Oct 31 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. New Hampshire

After a hard fought victory over Stony Brook, the Dukes will hit the road to play the New Hampshire Wildcats in Durham, NH. It’s traditionally one of the more difficult road trips in CAA Football. The conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, QB Trevor Knight, is back from injury and playing great for the Cats. He and his teammates stomped Villanova 34-0 last time out. Despite their 2-6 record, they should be a very tough match-up for the Dukes. But we want to know how you think the game will play out. Leave a comment below with your prediction. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it. Go Dukes!

Oct 30 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Homecoming Recap and Coach O’Regan


In this episode of the JMUSB podcast, recurring guest and head coach of the JMU women’s basketball team, Sean O’Regan joins us. In addition to a really fun conversation with Coach, we break down football’s closer than many fans expected win over Stony Brook. And lastly we talk about the terrific event at Pale Fire Brewing last Friday. And by the way, as soon as we wrapped up recording, we realized that we never actually explained what went down at Pale Fire for those of you who were unable to make it. Due to the limits or our recording system (it’s a phone app), we had the choice of either recording a show on location, but not hooking up to the PA, or forgetting about recording and doing a “live show” for the crowd on site. We opted to go the live show route. It was incredibly fun for us (and slightly tolerable) for the crowd on site. We’d love to do it again and next time we might need to upgrade the recording gear so we can have the best of both worlds.

As always, the JMUSB Podcast is brought to you by Pale Fire Brewing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass.

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

Oct 28 / Rob

Three Thoughts On JMU 13 – Stony Brook 10

A win is a win. Just take a deep breath and keep repeating that. JMU managed to escape with a 13-10 victory over a Stony Brook team that came ready to play. It was an old school defensive battle. And despite the fact that the Dukes came out on top, it left more than a few fans frustrated. Again though, a win is a win and the Dukes now find themselves at 6-2 overall, 4-1 in the CAA, and tied for first. It’s the result that ultimately matters, not the style points. Here are a few brief thoughts on the big win.

Just a Few Plays

As with most every close game, this one came down to just a few plays. Unlike in the Elon game, JMU made the ones that mattered at key moments against Stony Brook. Kyndel Dean had a touchdown for the ages, and did he best to singlehandedly make sure the Dukes didn’t come up short in the red zone again. The Seawolves had multiple chances to bring him down, but he fought off several tacklers and got in for 6. On the defensive side of the ball, Jimmy Moreland knocked down a would be TD pass in the end zone, and Landan Word alertly grabbed a tipped ball out of the air to secure the interception and kill a Stony Brook game. And Tyler Gray was steady all day, making two big field goals and an extra point. Those few plays helped turn a loss into a close win for JMU.

The Defense Is No Joke

Several people (well, me) were second guessing this JMU defense after the loss to Elon. Since getting a few guys back from injuries, the unit has been clicking on all cylinders. The Dukes D was dominant all day. Stony Brook came into the game with two backs averaging about 100 yards/game each. JMU held the Seawolves to 113 yards overall. And they limited Joe Carbone to just 19 of 37 attempts and picked him off twice. The defensive backs when single coverage for much of the game, enabling the safeties and linebackers to gang up on the ball carriers. Just a tremendous performance all around.

And the Elephant in the Room

What happened to JMU’s offense? Credit to Stony Brook for a solid defensive effort, but it sure looked like the Dukes were making it easier for them. Kyndel Dean made the most of his limited chances, and Sharp, Marshall, and Johnson each showed flashes, but were ultimately the running game failed to find its rhythm once again. Overall, it was a miserable day for the offense. The Dukes had no answer for the Seawolves’ blitzes. The receivers struggled to get off the line all day, and were of little help blocking for the running backs. The playcalling was bewildering, flipping between insanely predictable and overly complicated. And while it’s not clear if the coaches don’t have enough faith in the offense to call the game aggressively, or if the conservative playcalling is causing the offense to lose confidence in itself, something is clearly wrong.

People will point to Nooch and say we’re cutting him too much slack. We really don’t think it’s him though. He missed a wide open receiver in the red zone on a play that should have been six. The rest of the game though, we didn’t think he had much of a chance to do anything. The issues run far deeper than QB play. The receivers failed to create separation consistently, and there were no apparent route adjustments for the blitz. We fully admit that he Nooch’s deep ball hasn’t been impressive this year, but he’s had no chance to show improvement with this new horizontal passing game the coaches seem to rely on. Personally, we’d prefer even tossing a few more interceptions on more aggressive pass plays, if the trade-off was keeping the defense guessing and potentially breaking a few big ones.

And don’t even get us started on the poor clock management and lack of a killer instinct on 3rd and 4th downs. The Dukes keep the pedal to the medal against overmatched teams, but seem far more focused on avoiding mistakes than trying to outplay guys when they face top teams. The special teams and defense are outstanding, but time after time the coaches are way too content to play a field position game instead of pushing it on offense. The entire unit needs a refresh. And needs one quickly if the Dukes want to meet expectations. The defense and special teams are plenty good enough. There’s no lack of talent on offense. We’re just waiting for it all to come together.

Oct 26 / Todd

2018-19 JMUSB Game Preview #8: Stony Brook at JMU

The Basics

Matchup: #15 Stony Brook (6-2, 4-1 CAA) at #3 James Madison (5-2, 3-1 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Improving! After rain scares all week, now looking like showers only in the morning and a cool (cold? – I really have leaned into this Cackalacka thing) but just cloudy in the afternoon. High 51. Breezy.

Coverage: Madizone HD, Eleven Next, Tunein

These came from the last game vs. UNH

How Stony Brook Can Win

Control the clock with the running game. The Seawolves average a robust 32 points a game but a shootout with the Dukes is never a good idea. SB needs to ride their two-headed rushing monster of Donald Liotine and Jordan Gowins, which averages nearly 220 yards a game on the ground, to a total-plays-limiting grinder of a game against JMU. In the Dukes two losses, they’ve been held to limited possessions and that’s the formula here. We may occasionally complain about the offensive inconsistency, but as we’ve seen when the Dukes get enough chances, eventually they break through with their athletic advantage. On defense, they’re not having a vintage season on Strong Island, but they run the same scheme as JMU and make a lot of the same big plays. In other words, they’re a bit feast or famine on that side of the ball with 16 takeaways and bucketfuls of sacks but also concede over three TD’s per contest.

How JMU Can Win

Lock the Damn Gates! This game is about attitude and attention coming out of the bye week as much as anything. That may sound cliched but there’s not much X’s and O’s wise separating these teams. Stony Brook is just solid all around. But the Dukes are coming off their bye and Stony Brook hasn’t had their week off yet. A loss here would absolutely put the Dukes behind the eight ball in the playoff and CAA race. If JMU is going to be a real contender this year, it’s time to prove against a good team for the first time. This could be the “most important,” if not the actual biggest, game the Dukes have played since the first LTDG game against UNH two years ago in the playoff opener. Like that game, it’s time for this edition of JMU football to show it’s for real and not just a polls favorite.

Other Homecoming Activities

The older we get and the longer we’ve been season-ticket holders, the less juice “Homecoming” carries with it unless it happens to be a good matchup in a good spot on the schedule. Like this year! With it scheduled on Halloween weekend so often the last few years, it’s often been a tough one for alums that are parents – you can’t skip the Super Bowl of parenting the way you can a mid-season youth league game. But this year Halloween’s far enough away that our entire group of ticket-holders is able to make it! Hope the same is working for the rest of you.

And if you’re making a weekend out of it, there’s a ton of other things going on. Friday night is QuadFest, though the weather has moved it to Festival. Even we have to admit the idea of partying in Festival seems like a good idea! Then there are two huge soccer games going on this weekend with the top 25 men’s team in action after football at 8 p.m. against Elon and the regular season champs women’s team hosting a CAA semifinal game on Sunday at 1 p.m.

And lest we forget, we’ll be at Pale Fire on Friday night after 8. We’ll be recording live briefly around 9 and hopefully enjoying all of your company and some great beers.

Beer of the Week

Pale Fire Deadly Rhythm – a perfect fall beer that’s low enough ABV to carry you through the weekend. Plus it comes in tailgate-friendly tall boys that are one of the coolest looking logos you’ll see. Love ya Pale Fire!

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes 34, Seawolves 20

Oct 24 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Stony Brook

Big game this weekend. The Dukes welcome Stony Brook to the ‘burg for a Homecoming clash. Featuring the top 2 rushers in the CAA, the Seawolves should be a tough test for JMU. We’re pretty confident, but we’d like to know how you think the game will play out. Leave a comment below with your prediction. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score), will get to write a guest post. That’s it. So let us know who you think is going to win and Go Dukes!

Oct 23 / Rob

JMUSB Party at Pale Fire This Friday Night

Alright everyone. We’re gonna keep this short and to the point. Our fine friends at Pale Fire Brewing have agreed to let us record an episode of the JMUSB Podcast in the tasting room this Friday night from 9:00 to 11:00. With our rudimentary recording technology, think more “recording on location” vs. “live stage show.” We’ll be taking questions and even think we’re going to be able to have listeners join us on the recording though. And of course, we’ll be hanging out all night before & after the pod to meet some of you, talk JMU sports, share some Pale Fire brews, and thank you for your support over the years. We really hope you can make it. Check out the details here.

 

Oct 18 / Rob

You Really Should Join Us at Quadfest Next Friday

Bye weeks kind of suck. We know this. But bye weeks before Homecoming at least give everyone a good chance to rest up before heading to the ‘burg next weekend. And you should get your rest now, because the Homecoming party doesn’t start at next Saturday’s tailgate, it’s starts at JMU QuadFest on Friday afternoon. read more…

Oct 18 / jmusport

Guest Post: The 7 Greatest Short-Lived Bars of JMU

Pitz won last week’s prediction contest (with a perfect 37-0 prediction we might add) and earned the right to guest post. Here’s his look back on some bars of the ‘burg’s past.

#7. Caesar’s

Talk about a short-lived gem. If you didn’t frequent faux-fine dining happy hours in Harrisonburg from 2006-2008, you probably missed this flash in the pan. Located off Neff Avenue near present-day Jalisco’s, Caesar’s Italian Restaurant truly was a pioneer of questionable business plans. Fancy white tablecloths amidst happy hours that featured $4 pitchers and actual tables of free food.

Couple that with its vicinity to Highlawn (we’ll get to that soon, don’t you worry), and Caesar’s was Thursday’s perfect budget-conscious launching station on the Blackout Express. read more…

Oct 16 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Talking Football With Nikki Newman


We were lucky enough to haver Nikki Newman join us on the latest episode of the JMUSB Podcast. Nikki is a former JMU basketball star and is currently working the sidelines for the JMU football radio calls on JMU Sprint Broadcast Network. She joined us to talk about her deep love of the Dukes, being a part of a family of JMU athletes, what she sees in this year’s football team, and then offers up some thoughts on the state of both hoops programs. We had a blast chatting with her and think everyone will really enjoy listening to her.

As always, the JMUSB Podcast is brought to you by Pale Fire Brewing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass.

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