Oct 17 / Rob

Quick Thoughts on JMU Over RU

JMU moved to 4-1 on the season with a 19-3 win over the Richmond Spiders in the Dukes home away from home. The defense took advantage of a banged up Spider attack, terrorizing a series of backup quarterbacks all day. The Dukes totaled 6 sacks for the game and limited Richmond to only 188 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Dukes offense moved the ball, but only managed to punch it in for a single touchdowns. Ethan Ratke put last week’s uncharacteristic off-day behind him, nailing all 4 of his field goal attempts. It was JMU’s 6th straight win over Richmond. Here are a few quick thoughts on the victory.


Beating the Ticks is always great. Always. But this game was kind of a snoozer. It was evident right out of the gate that JMU was the superior team. Force to start its backup QB once again, Richmond’s offense struggled to get anything going. The Dukes defense was outstanding. But they were so dominant that it almost seemed like an unfair fight. The JMU offense on the other hand, put together several good drives, only to settle for field goals on 4 out of 4 trips to red zone. JMU was firmly in control for all 60 minutes and it was nice to bounce back with a win after the loss to Nova. We’re a spoiled, spoiled fanbase though because sometimes seeing the Dukes stomp the hated Spiders, wasn’t even enough to get us that excited. End to end victories are appreciated. Even if they sometimes can be a bit dull.

That Defense Though

Yes, Richmond’s top QB, Joe Mancuso was out. And backup Beau English also missed a few series after getting hurt himself. But backups or not, there was very little the Spiders’ offense could do against JMU. We were very critical of the defensive play against Villanova. Well, the Dukes D answered the bell and bounced back with one heck of an effort. They limited the Richmond passers to only 83 yards in the air on 8 of 18 passing. They were equally as effective against the run, holding the Spiders to only 2.6 yards a carry. To my eyes, it looked the best game the defense has played all season. Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey was all over the field making tackles, while Mike Greene did Mike Greene things, and the pass rush suffocated the Spiders. The secondary looked to be in sync and guys generally executed their assignments. It was a big step forward for the unit and a great response to last week’s unusually subpar performance.

Offense Needs a Spark

It sounds crazy to express concern about an offense that rushed for 100 yards and threw for nearly 300. But when all that leads to just a single touchdown, that’s what happens. There is an insane amount of talent on the JMU offense. But something is missing. It’s unfair to say that the players aren’t going all out, because they obviously are playing their hearts out. But there are stretches where as a unit, the offense looks unsure of itself.

Much of the struggles probably start with the relatively inexperienced offensive line. There’s room for improvement there for sure, but sometimes other guys simply need to step up and make a play under pressure. Thankfully, there are plenty of players capable of doing that. We’ve seen that when Cole Johnson gets in a rhythm and plays with confidence, JMU is very difficult to stop. The past few games that hasn’t happened however. There are plenty of hack comments we could make here as we go full on Monday morning quarterback or worse, armchair psychologist. Instead, we’ll take a glass half full approach. It’s not that this offense is consistently failing, it’s that it’s thiiiiiis close turning the corner and harnessing its full potential. Call us homers, but we think it will.


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  1. CJ / Oct 18 2021

    Hate to nit-pick after a victory against a halfway decent team, but I was hoping for a little stronger comeback statement following the disappointing loss to VU. Obviously would have liked to have seen more touchdowns with that many red zone possessions. Cole’s accuracy was also a little off…I noticed that even when he completed passes our receivers often had to stretch or adjust just a bit rather than catching the balls in stride. And I would have like to have seen our secondary come up with some picks. I think the secondary benefitted more from UR not having a top QB rather than us shutting down receivers. So all in all, good enough to get by an average CAA team…but concerns remain about how we can handle playoff-level teams.

    I watched part of the end of the North Dakota – Southern Illinois game, which was a slugfest. Both teams showed a lot of grit and heart and seemed to play every down as if the game was on the line. That’s the kind of passion and intensity that JMU still hasn’t seemed to find yet.

    Two big games coming up (Delaware and Elon) which might foreshadow how our postseason will go. I always mention Elon because they’re not a particularly exceptional team but they seem to find a way to punch above their weight class with us. Or maybe it’s just because they have Cignetti on a compromising video that they’re using to blackmail our game plans from him.

    Ha. Since Cignetti doesn’t read this I’m not worried about retracting that comment either.

  2. Rob K / Oct 19 2021

    I will take a relatively boring win over a nail-biter. I know a lot folks were complaining about the second half performance, but this seemed to be one of those games where Cignetti realized that Richmond was not going to score, and he was content to just sit on the lead and run out the clock. Cignetti has done this a number of times in the past, and this seemed to be another example.

    To me, the biggest issue is going to be the O-Line. Everybody rightfully focuses on losing Fornadel, but Gillespie deciding to move on is just as significant. When you lose your two best starting lineman, you are going to have issues. A lot of young kids trying to get together as a unit. We definitely can’t have any more injuries there and remain competitive.

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