Nov 14 / Rob

Quick Thoughts On JMU 32 – William & Mary 22

The Dukes kicked off their burn it all down tour of CAA destruction with a 10 point victory over the William & Mary Tribe. It was more methodical than exciting. But it was a win. And it moved JMU to 9-1 overall. Only a regular season finale against Towson stands between the Dukes and another double-digit win campaign. Cole Johnson had another 300 yard day in the air, completing 24 of 42 for 334 yards and a score. The Dukes moved the ball effectively all day, but struggled to convert red zone opportunities into TDs. Thankfully, Ethan Ratke made sure that didn’t bit them. The super senior had another historic day, converting all 6 of his field goal attempts. Defensively, Kelvin Azanama lead the way with 7 tackles overall and 2 for a loss. Overall, it was a solid win in what might be JMU last game in the lesser ‘burg for the foreseeable future. Here are a few quick thoughts on the win.

Give It Up For Mr. Ratke

Ethan Ratke set two NCAA records during the game. After hitting a program single game record 6 field goals, he’s officially kicked more than anyone in NCAA history. He’s sitting at 100 field goals and counting. That’s preposterous. He’s also the all time leading scorer when you factor in extra points, with 517 points. That is also preposterous. Fans might be frustrated with the Dukes inability to find the end zone as frequently as some past years (more on that later), but thanks to Ratke they managed to score on all 7 trips to the red zone against the Tribe. The guy has hit some of the biggest kicks in JMU history and he just keeps on going.

A Step Back Inside the 20

JMU moved the ball effectively against a pretty good Tribe D most of the game. The Dukes mixed it up in the passing game and spread the ball around. Eight different players caught passes. JMU was able to exploit matchups and get the ball to guys in position to make plays for most of the game. But things seemed to get complicated in the red zone. In its first possession in goal to go territory, JMU ran three versions of the same fade and failed to connect each time. In earlier games, it was JMU’s stubborn reluctance to get away from running inside that prevented them from getting 6 points. I know folks will disagree, but the struggles in this game seemed more related to execution than philosophy. On the the 3 aforementioned fades, the line gave Cole time and the receivers found space, but they couldn’t connect. It’s frustrating to see the repetition, but at least one of the 3 plays should have succeeded. JMU offense seems to rely on pass catchers in the flats making guys miss or going over the top. Those types of plays can be tough to execute inside the 20 as the field shrinks. JMU has enough weapons where it should be able to scheme something up near the goal line. But it’s also going to take guys stepping up and simply making plays.

Guess JMU is a Passing Team

Despite both Kris Thornton and Antwan Wells Jr. wowing fans during Spring football, most of us thought the JMU offense would be run focused. That hasn’t been the case. William & Mary has a good defense and JMU running back corps is plenty banged up. But this was not a great running performance by the Dukes. They averaged only 2.5 yards per carry. That’s not good enough. Despite the injuries and relative inexperience, the offense line was pretty good pass protection. Cole had plenty of time to throw most of the day. Things were a bit messier in terms of run blocking though. Latrelle Palmer is a terrific runner, but it’s asking too much of him to make guys miss before he gets to the line of scrimmage repeatedly. With only one more regular season game before the playoffs, JMU needs to figure things out quickly. The running game was supposed to be the strength of this team. Coming out of this win, it’s closer to a question mark.

Broadcast Amateur Hour

The terrible FloSports media deal is one of many reasons we’re anxious for JMU to move on from the CAA. It provides limited exposure and very little money for the league. The actual Flo app is much improved this season however. The problems are more of the garbage in, garbage out variety. Too many CAA schools have poor quality production with bad camera angles, limited replays, and overall junior varsity efforts. William & Mary’s technical production was fine, but what the heck was up with those announcers? We expect a certain degree of homerism whenever it’s another schools’ crew, but these dudes were next level. From calling out Tribe d-backs for “great coverage” as PI flags came flying out of the hands of every single official on the field, to trying to make “late slide” a thing, to ignoring the Tribe’s lack of discipline in favor of alleging that the refs were JMU alums, it was comically bad. William & Mary is one of the most outstanding educational institutions in the world. You might not know it you tuned into this broadcast.


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  1. Tidewater Duke / Nov 14 2021

    After the first five minutes of listening to the clown announcers, I turned the sound off and just watched the game.Much more enjoyable.

    A shout out to my YellowJackets who whipped H-SC for the seventh, or eighth year in a row.

  2. CJ / Nov 15 2021

    Wins are great but sure wish we could put to rest these lingering concerns that are surely going to come home to roost when we meet playoff teams. Red zone efficiency is still a huge problem for us! And I don’t know what is more concerning about that thrice repeated fade route, whether we attempted it three times or whether we missed it three times.

    Another pattern that we still can’t seem to get out of is this third quarter lapse in focus. We saw shades of it in this game when the Tribe made that long run, followed by a quick and ineffective JMU offensive possession, and then another quick Tribe score. Luckily we pulled it together and kept them at bay, but it’s another alarming example of how quickly we can give these games right back to our opponents. If that persists it will destroy us in the playoffs.

    Cole did a lot of good things but unfortunately still hasn’t really broken out yet into the great quarterback I think he could be. I hope he peaks when the playoffs start.

    I would disagree with your statement that the technical production of the broadcast was fine…I thought it was amateur hour and felt more like watching a high school football broadcast run by students. And yes, the announcers were more over the top with their Tribe favoritism than CNN is with pro-Democrat bias.

  3. Rob K / Nov 15 2021

    I mostly wanted to talk about the three straight fade routes, but that seems to have been sufficiently covered. My other question is what would be wrong with playing cover 2 when we have a big lead? Seems like most of W&M’s big plays came from when we were playing press coverage and sending at least 5 at the line. But that may be nitpicking. I was glad to get away with a win that was never really in doubt because of Ratke. A few years from now, our kicker is going to go 3 for 6 on these games and we are going to forget how special we had it.

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