Oct 9 / Todd

JMUSB 2021 Preview: Villanova at JMU

2019 JMU Football-Morgan State

The Dukes come home to finish their trio of matchups against Wildcats (Weber, UNH, Nova). With injuries to QB1 at Delaware and Richmond, this is shaping up to be the toughest game of the year and Villanova is not to be overlooked in any way.

The Basics

Matchup: #3 JMU Dukes (4-0, 2-0 CAA) vs. #11 Villanova Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST. Saturday October 9, 2021, Bridgeforth Stadium, The ‘Burg

Weather: Mostly Cloudy high of 65 (actually only 15% chance of rain between 2-5 p.m. so looking better and better)

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington or you can Go with the Flo

How We Got Here

Villanova is 3-1 and coming off a bye before taking on the Dukes (somehow this is about to happen to JMU two weeks in a row thanks Joey D!). The Cats destroyed two Patriot League team (Lehigh and Bucknell) early and beat Richmond 34-27 in their CAA opener before falling respectably at Penn St. a couple weeks ago. The Dukes made all the mistakes and were fortunate to sneak out of Durham with a win last week but remain perfect on the year.

How the ‘Cats Can Win

Make the game’s biggest play. Villanova is super-experienced, deep, and we’d have to think highly motivated to go after the team that’s given them fits lately. But the one thing that they haven’t been able to come up with the last few meetings has been that game-flipping play that tends to mean the difference in close games between these CAA heavyweights. That killer interception, special teams penalty, and backbreaking long run have always gone the Dukes way. The Wildcats are good enough to win this game, but they have to make the biggest play.

QB Daniel Smith is quite a bit Flutie-like. Small but crafty and more than capable with his legs. RB Justin Covington is back after dealing with injury last year. Villanova has scored 34, 55, and 47 points in their non-Penn St. games this year so they can light it up more than past years. On the other side, JMU has always talked about how awkward it can be (especially for OLines) to play against their traditional 3-3-5 stack defense with identifying the “front four” always a challenge. But Coach Cignetti mentioned this week that Nova is mixing things up more than ever from a scheme standpoint on D this year. With Malik Fisher (DL) and Owen Thomas (LB) entering the Semenov-zone of career-length with the Covid flexibility and Christian Benford (CB) probably as capable as anyone the Dukes will see all year at matching up with Wells, Jr. it will be a major challenge for Cole and co.

How the Dukes Can Win

Win on third down and learn from last week and don’t screw around or think this is ever over. Richmond was up two scores before Villanova dropped 21 unanswered to beat them a few weeks back. They’re 10x better offensively than UNH. Most important, the Dukes need to win on third downs. They left a few conversions out there last week (hate to see Harry punting on 4th and 1 or 4th and 2) that they have got to make this week to keep the Wildcats offense off the field. And defensively, Smith and Covington are such swiss-army knives that it’s vital that the Dukes find a way to not allow a bunch of frustrating 3rd and medium conversions. It’s be nice if JMU can ride the momentum of the first sold-out stadium in a couple years.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

Leffe Brune – Every year we search for great non-pumpkin Fall beers and this year we finally asked ourselves “why are we skipping one of the goats of fall beers?” There’s a reason this bad-boy Belgian has been made the same way for almost eight centuries. And InBev or not, it’s an outstanding choice for a chilly, wet fall day.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Villanova is good and this will not be easy. But the Dukes are home and should be locked in after a bad outing last week and some long road trips. JMU 27, Villanova 23

One Comment

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  1. CJ / Oct 9 2021

    Predictions might as well go out the window with this one. Sure, JMU is the more talented team, and going by the numbers JMU should come away with the win. But as we saw last week, JMU was superior in almost every aspect but yet they still damn near lost the game. So despite their talent, JMU is still a very beatable team…not only to a strong opponent like Villanova, but also to a team like Elon. (I keep telling you guys, Elon plays us so tough that I really think they’re blackmailing Cignetti into giving them our game sheets ahead of time).

    Here’s the lesson learned…it’s not always the more talented team that wins. Sometimes its the team with more heart, the team that wants it more, the team that doesn’t quit even when they’re down three or more scores. I think New Hampshire had that edge last week. I’ll even use the Sam Houston State example last Spring when I said JMU was the better team but SH never gave up and found way to when we lost our focus and intensity.

    I think it comes down to the coaching staff addressing how we can put together a more complete game. Even if it’s on a kickoff or an extra point when we’re up by 28, play at full speed and with full intensity. That’s what Alabama does, and that’s what I’ve seen NDSU and other top FCS teams do. Cignetti is a great coach and I think he’s done an outstanding job, but he’s not perfect and I think this is one area he could improve in.

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