Sep 16 / Todd

Official JMUSB 2021 Preview: JMU @ Weber St.

The Basics

Matchup: #3 JMU Dukes (2-0, 1-0 CAA) at #9 Weber St. Wildcats (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky)

Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. EDT. Saturday, September 19, 2021, Stewart Stadium, Ogden, UT

Weather: Cloudy, chance of a stray shower or storm. Probably in 60s at kickoff.

Broadcast: ESPN+, it’s a miracle.

How Weber St. Can Win

Avoid a shootout and get at least two big defensive/special teams plays. The fall 2021 Wildcats are still a bit of an unknown after losing respectably but about as expected to FBS Utah and then boatracing transitioning-from-D2 Dixie St. last week. But having seen them go absolutely toe-to-toe with the Dukes twice – with even bigger stakes – in the last few years, we all know what Weber does well. First, they compete every play and are extremely well-coached. They’re one of the few teams in the Houston/Cignetti era that has truly competed in the trenches with JMU and we don’t expect anything different here. But the top-end offensive talent has always favored the Dukes with Riley Stapleton, Marcus Marshall, etc. eventually finding ways to break through. That said, the Spring JMU team struggled mightily on specials where Weber excels and if they got a runback (as they did vs. Utah in Week 1) and maybe one other huge defensive turnover or score, this could get as dicey as the 2017 game in a hurry.

Player to Watch: QB Randall Johnson – all eyes will be on the former dual-threat juco standout in his first start. He threw a game-winning hail mary back in the spring and performed well last week when starter Bronson Barron went down, but he hasn’t seen anything like the JMU defense and decision-making will be crucial to the Wildcats’ chances.

How JMU Can Win

Force turnovers and don’t leave this till the 4th quarter. There’s been a whole lot of talk among JMU fans and media this week (and even through this summer as we got excited for this matchup) about the elevation in Ogden and how best to prepare for it. But the best way to handle it is truly to not have to rely on a huge fourth quarter to win this thing. The longer this one is close and cagey, the more that favors a motivated-by-two-tough-playoff-losses home team. But if the Dukes defense can make some big negative plays early-ish (think sacks or even better forced turnovers), any extra and/or gift-wrapped opportunities for this JMU offense will go a long way towards forcing Weber’s gameplan towards speeding up in a way that probably tilts the field towards the Dukes.

Players to watch: WR Scott Bracey – If the Wildcats roll their safety towards Wells as we think they will (and as they did towards Brandon Polk in 2019), Bracey will need to step up on the opposite side. LB Kelvin Azanama – LB may not be the Dukes deepest group on defense and the leader will need to hang in there for as long as possible at altitude.

Record Breakers

JMU K Ethan Ratke will break the all-time FCS record for field goals made with one good kick. On the other side, Weber St. kick returner Rashid Shaheed will be looking for his astounding 7th kick return TD.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

The rare 8 p.m. kickoff means you can go about as big and heavy as you want to this week. And since it’s Utah, those of you lucky enough to be there may be able to get your hands on some western beers we don’t see back here. Among those, New Mexico’s La Cumbre Brewing’s Malpais Stout is the best of the lot the darker beer folks out there. This one is just stunning.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes 31, Wildcats 20. This is no easy prediction or game but we haven’t seen anything from Weber to think they’re going to pile up points against the Dukes. The QB uncertainty only adds to that even if there’s a special teams big play somewhere along the way. We might actually be a little higher on the Dukes offensive prospects but the Wildcats probably know a shootout is unwise and Cignetti and company never play for style points. If JMU can ever get clear by more than a score, we’re thinking they salt the earth with Latrelle as long as they can.


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  1. M@ / Sep 17 2021

    I just like that there’s a bye next week. Nothing to look forward to and a week to come down after this hyped-up game will be just what the team needs methinks.

  2. CJ / Sep 18 2021

    Toughest matchup of the regular season for us here. Obviously a very big challenge. Still, I’m feeling pretty good about a JMU victory as the Dukes tend to rise to the occasion against more elite opponents (it’s the Robert Morris’s and Elon’s that we seem to have more problems with).

    I’m really big on Cole this year and I’m hoping he really has an outstanding season. He struggled a little in the early part of the Spring season with accuracy and mobility, but as the season progressed I think he really developed into a premier FCS QB. I think he has the tools to be one of the top in the FCS this season.

    I’m a little disappointed in our strength of schedule this year. I think putting Morehead State on the schedule really doesn’t do much to develop/challenge our team. A team of JMU’s caliber should be scheduling higher quality opponents.

    Honestly, the game that scares me the most this year is Elon. Those guys always seem to play us tough. It’s like they have a highly-placed double agent in our coaching staff. Either that or they have something incriminatory on Cignetti on video or pictures. They just seem to know how to play us tough.

    And I’m just kidding, Coach C, in case you’re actually reading this. I’m sure their success is due to the excellent foundation you established during your time there.

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