Mar 5 / Todd

2021 Spring Football Game #3 Official JMUSB Preview: #1 JMU (2-0, 0-0 CAA) at Elon (1-1, 0-0 CAA)

Running Back Jawon Hamilton
Don’t sleep on Hamilton!

The Basics

Matchup: #1 JMU Dukes (2-0, 0-0 CAA) @ Elon Phoenix (1-1, 0-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. EST. Saturday March 6, 2021, Stadium, Rhodes Stadium, Elon, NC

Weather: Perfect. Mostly sunny, light winds. High 53

Broadcast: Flo

Boys in the Desert: JMU -21.5

How Elon Can Win

Join the season. Seriously, after losing QB Davis Cheek in the preseason, Elon has appeared to have no real desire to play this spring season through two struggling weeks. They’ve played an almost identical schedule to JMU. They had to come back to salvage a game against Pioneer (non-schollie think Morehead) foe Davidson in Week 1 and they got mauled by the Big South’s (think RMU) Gardner-Webb last week. And now here comes the nation’s #1 team.

Elon still has talent. We’ve watched the program grow from afterthought to contender since joining the CAA and there’s no real reason to think they’re back to basement just yet. And last week they were up 17-0 with Joey Baugham at QB before a leg injury led to true freshman JR Martin finishing the game and the Phoenix being outscored 42-3 from then on by a Gardner-Webb team picked to finish tied with Robert Morris in the Big South.

If Martin is in at QB again Elon absolutely has to find a way to run the ball and control the clock. As much to keep JMU off the field and shorten the game as anything else.

How JMU Can Win

Be ready for 60 minutes and crush hope early. JMU has nagging injuries, including some likely ones we the fans don’t know about, and it’s been a long 13 months since everyone played. Last week it was pretty obvious that for whatever reason the Dukes were not ready to play, at least offensively, in the first half. JMU lost two All-Americans to Covid transfers, and two expected stars to injury in the preseason. And the Dukes STILL have more depth than almost any program in the FCS so there’s no real excuse. It’s definitely tough getting your body reacclimated to college football’s weekly grind, but hopefully this week the players are starting to find their groove again.

But JMU’s most obvious path to victory this weekend is to crush Elon’s spirit early. As noted above, the Phoenix, having lost their star QB Davis Cheek in the preseason, have looked rather disinterested in spring football through the first two weeks. But with Coach Cignetti returning to town, you have to think they’ll at least be more motivated this weekend. If the Dukes can show them early that this isn’t competitive, Elon may very well disappear wherever they did when they got manhandled by Gardner-Webb in the second half last week.

Most importantly to that end offensively is to not turn the ball over again. And part of that is finding the running game and sticking with it. It will be tempting – in Spurrier-esque fashion – to be headed down south to warm weather, blue skies, and a sweet grass field and to suddenly want to throw it around the yard. Don’t. Run it and run it and run it some more. Make Mickey proud.

On defense, the Dukes need to do exactly what they did last week – their jobs. JMU has been very strong in terms of playing assignment football so far and just needs to keep developing the new group up front. Elon is a mess at QB, so if JMU can shut down the run game and force them into obvious passing situations, big plays from the D and mistakes from the Phoenix will come.

More Than a Game

We’re trying something new this year inspired by the work of the Bills Mafia to make something better from the collective power of Dukes everywhere. This week in honor of JMU’s opponent, Elon, we’ll be donating to the Greensboro Urban Ministry and you can click that link to go straigth to the donor site or text “Rootin” to 707070 to get started. Love y’all!

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Aslin Master of Karate NE IPA – I love IPAs, especially crisp traditional “west coast” styles. I generally hate New England IPAs which all seem to be trying to outdo each other to be filled with nasty, hazy sediment and make you feel like you just ate fettuccini alfredo like Michael Scott carbo-loading. But this NEIPA offering from Herndon’s Aslin is the absolutely delicious exception to that rule.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU got its wakeup call last week and this week they show they understand it takes the entire roster being ready to play. This one gets away from Elon in a hurry.

JMU 41 – Elon 10

One Comment

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  1. Cj / Mar 5 2021

    On paper, JMU should run away with this one. But after last weeks performance against Robert Morris, who can be sure of anything? The biggest test is on Coach C as to whether he can keep the guys focused and take care of business.

    Huge advantage in our favor is that Elon will be without QB Davis Cheek. I’ve not forgotten that name since he led Elon to beat us in 2018 (also known as the game that probably got Coach C his current job)

    Bottom line is that in these crazy COVID spring football times I’m wary of surprises on any given Saturday.

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