Nov 22 / Rob

2019 JMUSB Game Preview #12: JMU at Rhode Island

When I was probably about 9 or 10 years old, we took a family trip to Rhode Island. There’s not a lot that I remember about the trip, but a few things stand out. First, my sisters and I thought Del’s Frozen Lemonade was the greatest thing ever. I can assure you that Del’s is still great as an adult. Second, there was some sort of tropical storm or hurricane brewing off the coast. My dad decided that made it the perfect time to go body surfing. The waves were huge and it wasn’t exactly, um, safe. But it was a blast. Right up to the point where the lifeguards called us (the only swimmers) in and closed the beach. That instilled me with the parenting instincts I rely on today. And finally, I picked out a t-shirt that said “Rhode Island, the Biggest Little State in the Union.” Grade school aged me thought it was the cleverest thing I’d ever seen. And it kind of reminds me of the 2019 Rhode Island Rams football team, which might be the best last place team you’ll ever find.

This is not to say that Rhode Island is good or that JMU needs to be fearful. JMU should win this game. The Rams are 2-9 overall and 0-7 in CAA play. But they’re no pushover. Aside from a couple of lopsided losses to William & Mary & Elon, they’ve been in most games. They took UD to OT, lost to Stony Brook on a miracle last second run, stayed within a touchdown of Albany and Maine, and dropped a close one to UNH by a field goal. This is nothing like the Rhody teams from the past, that wasn’t even competitive. With any degree of luck, the Rams could be a middle of the pack CAA team. Of course, JMU has shown it’s capable of beating pretty much any CAA team.

How Rhode Island Can Win

The Rams need to go for broke and sling it around. Rhody has a dangerous passing attack. Quarterback Vito Priore has thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the CAA. And he’s got a pair of stud receivers in Aaron Parker and Isaiah Coulter. They each average 15 yards a catch. Parker has racked up 1,158 yards and Coulter has 974. And those numbers aren’t due to any sort of gimmick offense. It’s just consistent pitching and catching.

The Ram defense on the other hand, is not very good. Rhode Island can’t count on shutting down the Dukes offense. They’ve traded punches with most CAA opponents all year and tried to win shootouts. It hasn’t work yet, but it’s the approach they’ll take again Saturday. They’ll just try to air it out, match JMU score for score, and hope to have the ball last.

How JMU Can Win

Pressure the QB on D and establish the run on offense. This sounds like a cliche straight out your 1980s football guide book. It’s true though. You might wonder how a team can go winless in conference with a passing attack like the Rams’. Well, it’s because the defense stinks on ice. They’re not bad against the pass, but they can’t stop anyone running the ball. Teams have averaged over 6 yards a carry against Rhode Island. The JMU offense has shown it can put the pedal to the metal and score on pretty much anyone. And they can do it quickly. But this might be a week where they decide to just run it down the Rams’ throats and keep Priore off the field.

When Priore and the offense are on the field, the Dukes need to be all over him. He’s a good QB, but he’s not particularly mobile. Rhody isn’t going to run on JMU. They should have a much easier time throwing the ball. So it’s absolutely critical that Carter, Daka, and the rest of the Dukes don’t give Priore time.

A Few Recommendations for JMU Fans Making the Trip

I’ve spent a lot of time in the Ocean State, particularly in Newport. It’s a special place for my family. And if you’re going to the game this weekend, you really should be staying in Newport. Here are a few spots I’d recommend hitting up.

Brick Alley Pub

My top pick for a post game meal and night cap. It’s not super fancy, but it’s good food and good drink. For DMV folks, the best way I can describe it is as the Old Ebbitt Grill of Newport. And the lobster bisque is my wife’s all time favorite dish from any restaurant on earth. Order it. Don’t sleep on the Portuguese clams though.

Winner Winner

I’ve had the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. It’s good. It’s not worth waiting in line for. Winner Winner makes a much better version. Drop your Southern bias and give it a shot. Great option on Sunday for anyone who might have been over-served Saturday.

Fluke

Make a post game reservation if you’re trying to combine rootin and date night. And ask to sit upstairs with a water view.

Midtown Oyster Bar

Fun place. Great oysters. I’ve celebrated multiple birthdays here and have never been disappointed.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Last regular season game of the year. First place JMU squad against a last place URI team. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but this might call for a celebratory beer. Let’s go big and make HammerTown by Three Notch’d Brewing our JMUSB BOTW. It’s a big, big IPA with a lot of grapefruit flavors. And it will definitely put you in the right mood should JMU take care of business and lock up the #2 seed for the playoffs.

Official JMUSB Prediction

The Rams throw it around and make a few big plays, but Daka, Carter and the boys disrupt Rhody’s offense while The Nooch and the O keep humming. JMU rolls and secures a top seed for the playoffs. JMU 45 – URI 14.

4 Comments

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  1. CJ / Nov 22 2019

    Rhode Island’s offense did very well moving the ball on us last year. Problem was their defense couldn’t keep up. But they played us tough through all four quarters. I remember being concerned about how an inferior team could put up such good numbers on us. I think another guy who shared that concern was Mike Houston, because around that time he was working the FBS head coach want-ads like crazy while his stock was still high.

    This year’s JMU team is better on offense (especially with DiNucci clicking more) and better on defense (albeit to a lesser extent with the nagging vulnerabilities in the secondary). So we should have a more decisive Dukes win on Saturday. Still, URI is going to go out there and have fun, and you can bet they’ll be taking shot after shot at Parker and their other receivers. I’ll be watching closely at how our secondary stands up to the test. If URI can consistently rack up passing yardage on us, then we’re in serious trouble when we face a top notch passing corps in the playoffs.

    And I’ll throw in the Chanler at Cliff Walk, and their elegant Spiced Pear restaurant, as a recommendation for you more upscale Dukes fans who seek a finer Newport, RI experience.

    Okay guys good talk.

  2. Gene Chianelli / Nov 22 2019

    I was reading the preview with my usual amount of interest until I saw OH MY GOD THEIR QUARTERBACK’S NAME IS “VITO!” I’ll spare everyone the Godfather references, but needless to say I’m all in on this game now and Rhode Island has instantly become my second favorite FCS team.

    Let’s get up there, take care of business, lock up the #2 seed, and get back to the ‘Burgh to get ready for the playoffs.

  3. Mike in Columbus / Nov 26 2019

    Just finished listening to the basketball game on Tuesday night. there have been a lot of low points over the last 20 years in JMU basketball but this might be the lowest. Losing to a MEAC team that is not even near the top of that weak conference is not acceptable…and losing by 16 points where it was not really that close after the 10 minute mark of the 2nd half. Listened to the coach’s comments after the game and he seems as if he has no clue as to what to do. No offensive strategy other than come down the floor and put up a quick 3 and on defense there seems to be little effort. It seems obvious that the sports administration at JMU has written off basketball for the forseeable future. Just don’t see how Rowe is going to be the coach that leads the program to winning seasons. As in football, there is little reason that JMU should not be dominating the CAA. Really a disappointing performance this evening but also mediocre efforts against UVA and they mostly collapsed at the end of the ODU game and lucked out winning that one. We will have to endure this season with Rowe but there seems there needs to be a change in coaches. But the current AD does not seem to know how to hit a home run with basketball coaching hires the way he does with hiring football coaches.

  4. CJ / Nov 27 2019

    @Mike in Columbus thank you for that. I’ve been saying from day one that Rowe was a bad choice, but yet losing season after losing season the excuses kept coming. Finally the light bulb is starting to come on and people are realizing that this team is going nowhere with Rowe. Of course I’d love to see our team win 20+ games and make it to the NCAA tournament under Rowe, but a realistic and probable prediction is that we’re unlikely to break 10 wins and our season will end in early March in the first round of the CAA tourney. At that time, theres no choice but to part ways with Rowe and start some optimism with a new team and a new arena.

    JMU deserves better! Just look at our Womens team as they consistently punch above their weight class! If they can put together a team that can compete with the best, and doing so with similar recruiting and financial resources, then there’s no excuse for the mens team. I know not too many people read these comments, but the few that do should take note!

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