Feb 18 / Todd

2021 Spring Game #1 Official JMUSB Preview: Morehead St. @ JMU

Cole Johnson, JMU Starting QB
Guess who’s back!?

We did it! We all did it! After 13 months without Dukes football, it’s go time. It’s hard to believe this is happening but we’re choosing to love it and enjoy every second we get of it this winter and spring. We often say that being a college football fan requires being comfortable with a certain level of cognitive dissonance and this weird season may stretch that to its limit, but while it’s here, we’re going to enjoy the warmth JMU will bring to the longest and coldest of winters with everything we have.

We can, and will, do two things at once. First, acknowledge and pray for the fact that even in our small group of fellow JMU fanatics, there are those that have lost siblings and parents this last year. And way way down the list of import, it also may not make any financial, logistical, or rational sense to have an FCS spring season. But we can do a second thing at the same time. We can choose to accept and support that players, coaches, and fans all want throw streamers, even if it’s in our living rooms. And this can be fun and there’s no need to apologize to anyone for being joyous. And if we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll even get to throw real streamers at a real game sometime in early May!

The Basics

Matchup: Morehead St. Eagles (0-0, Pioneer) @ #4 JMU Dukes (0-0, CAA)

Kickoff: 12 noon ET. Saturday February 20, 2021, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Sunny, high of 29

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington Plus (this is the “other” channel you use when Wiz and Caps play at the same time. It’s available on Dish, DTV, and Fios. Also streaming on FloFootball.

Boys in the Desert: JMU -41.5, O/U 54 – Exciting that we can talk about this openly and with more glee this year thanks to the legalization of sports betting in Virginia. But that “location services” thing on your DraftKings/FanDuel app should prevent you from actually wagering on the Dukes if you live in Virginia. More to come on this as the season goes along.

How Morehead St. Can Win

The Eagles probably can’t. Unless JMU is too cold and too nervous and generally overconfident and under-aggressive, it’ll be an incredible victory for MSU to stay within 3 scores. Frankly, if the Eagles can make the trip safely from a ‘rona and icy travel standpoint and escape without major injury, it’d really be successful start to the year.

As a reminder, Morehead St. is a mid-sized public school from Morehead, Kentucky, which deep in the hills about halfway between Lexington, KY and Huntington, WV. MSU serves the eastern part of the state way better than Eastern Kentucky actually does. The Eagles play in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. San Diego wins that league’s auto-berth to the FCS playoffs almost every year, except on occasion when Dayton has an NFL-Caliber Tight End. The league’s existence is one of the quirkiest and least-explainable things in all of college athletics, and that friends is saying something. It stretches from Cali to Ohio and down to Florida and flies those teams all over hell’s half-acre in order for a bunch of non-schollie schools to play each other at the FCS level. Most of the member schools are reasonably well-respected some reason that has zero to do with football. Read that again and tell me you don’t love this madness. All that said, this league is about to get REALLY interesting next Fall, when two new members join the league. One is a school, South Carolina’s tiny Presbyterian College, who didn’t care enough about football and sort of unofficially got itself thrown out of its conference, the SoCon. The other, the University of St. Thomas, the pride of St. Paul, Minnesota (again, the geography of this league is friggin’ wild!), absolutely and very officially got itself thrown out of its conference, D3’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), for caring entirely too much about football and shredding both D3 rulebooks and opponents for too many years. St. Thomas was “involuntarily removed” from the MIAC last year and somehow will find itself in the Pioneer during its four-year transition to full FCS status. Needless to say, both of these proud programs are going to significantly up the interest and competition levels in the PFL soon.

Also, the PFL is elite in terms of team names. Stetson Hatters, San Diego Torreros, Dayton Flyers, St. Thomas Tommies, and now the Presbyterian Blue Hose! The boring Eagles of Morehead lose in the name game and are likely to lose Saturday as well. But Phil Simms and Kenneth Farreid went there!

More Than a Game

We’re trying something new this year to make something better from the collective power of Dukes everywhere. This week in honor of JMU’s opponent, Morehead State, we’ll be donating to Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland. You can click here or text “ROOTIN” to 707070 to get started. Let’s just say our old friend Joe Suhoski and his beloved Bills Mafia may have been on our minds and hearts this year.

How JMU Can Win

Mickey Ball! It could be back baby! Complete with dominant line play serving as a draft showcase for Liam Fornadel, wide blockers, and 58 running backs in the same position group that would start for every other opponent they’ll play this year. We’ll have to get to April or May for the weather to allow Coach Cignetti to truly throw a visor, but with the season kicking off on the absurd date of February 20th – a time of year when the central valley experiences approximately 47 minutes of daylight and this Saturday’s expected high of 29 can be considered balmy – a return to the program’s ground-and-pound roots seems in order. I’m sure we’ll see an effort to begin incorporating all the new faces catching passes, but given the opponent and the weather, we’d expect to see a whole lot of RB’s alternating between trucking dudes and running away from them.

The more interesting thing will be to see how things set up on Defense, where team-leader Mike Greene will be trying to raise the level of play of so many new guys in new roles around him. There’s a ton of talent out there that may not always be in the right spot for a while. That should lead to big plays both for and against the Dukes at times and that’s where the action is. The key to this wild Spring season seems likely to be the health of the top two linebackers – Azanama and Tucker-Dorsey – and the development of the largely unproven cornerback group.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Hopslam. Football is back at JMU and Bell’s is back in Virginia after the Commonwealth spent a couple years acting the fool. It’s not even our favorite bigass IPA, but it’s February 20th during a pandemic ice storm and as Chris Tucker would say, you ain’t got shit to do. Seriously, you aren’t going anywhere. None of us have any plans. And the Dukes are on. I still hate paying for Flo, but this year I’m saving on tickets, transport, accommodations, concessions, etc. so it isn’t even the financial outlay, it’s just the principle. There are principalities involved! So grab a sixer of this 10% monster that really does use a spoonful of honey to help the medicine go down and enjoy the hell out of a Dukes Saturday!

Official JMUSB Prediction

We’re not yet confident the play from JMU will be as consistent and flattering as the final score may indicate, but the Dukes should distance this thing early. Also not sure even Coach Cig’s most conservative, sporting effort in the second half can keep the Dukes’ talented and hungry ballcarriers from continuing to score late. JMU 48 – Morehead St. 7

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: