Oct 14 / Todd

JMU at Georgia Southern: Official JMUSB Game #6 Preview

The SoulCrusher

The Basics

Matchup: #25 JMU Dukes (5-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) at Georgia Southern Eagles (3-3, 0-2 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 4:00 p.m. EST. Saturday, October 15, 2022, Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Arkansas

Weather: Mainly sunny, high 78.

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: JMU -12, O/U 67 (Vegas and the betting public finally catching up to the ATS darling Dukes)

How We Got Here

The Dukes are 5-0, ranked in the AP poll, are a balanced and complete team that also happens to have the nation’s best rush defense. They’ve smoked everyone they’ve played except for one fumbling debacle of a quarter in Boone. Exactly what everyone predicted before the season, right?

The Eagles have been up and down but their old-school, passionate fanbase has to be pleased overall with the seeds of a return to prominence being planted in Coach Clay Helton’s first year. They started out with a blowout FCS win and then the big shocker at Nebraska that got the Huskers’ coach fired. Then they struggled against a quality UAB team before beating a bad Ball St. squad to finish out their non-conference. In Sun Belt play, they’ve had two disappointing close losses to undefeated Coastal and last week in Atlanta to the hated “other GSU.”

How Georgia Southern Can Win

Stop turning the ball over and outscore the Dukes. The Eagles defense can only charitably be described as a work in progress. Aside from their FCS game, they’ve given up 42 (Nebraska), 35 (UAB), 23 (Ball St.), 34 (Coastal), and 41 (Ga. St.) points. That’s, uh, not good given the consistency we’ve seen from a Dukes offense averaging 44 points per contest.

But Southern’s offense has been prolific in Helton’s attempt to finally move them out of their storied triple-option past. Led by Buffalo transfer QB Kyle Vantrease and a slew of receivers (last week they had four guys with at least 5 catches), they throw it early and often. The Eagles throw to set up their surprisingly strong (at least statistically speaking) running game, but the O-Line has limitations. It’s worth noting that the Eagles attempt to overcome their O-Line by getting the ball out fast – they haven’t yielded a ton of sacks. They should move the ball and score against even JMU. But they HAVE to avoid interceptions as they’ve buried themselves under an avalanche of them in losses. Southern can absolutely hang with JMU offensively but they’ve got to stay ahead or even on the scoreboard to avoid letting JMU’s pressure crank up and force more of those daggers.

How JMU Can Win

Score early and consistently. The Dukes overall offensive stats give the surface impression of an unstoppable machine. But JMU has quietly started rather slowly in all three Sun Belt games thus far before exploding later on. The Eagles are probably too consistent on offense for JMU to start so slowly this week without falling into a big hole like the game at App. If JMU can put some points up earlier this week, then it can allow its explosive defense to go to work coming up with big plays even if it gives up a few here and there like last week in Arkansas, this could be a fun week for the Dukes. Defensively, just make tackles and don’t give up big yards after the catch.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA – as Michael Scott said, “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.” The last two road games – App and Ark St. – where we watched on tv, we grabbed one of these old Virginia standbys that are available everywhere out of the back of the fridge after slow starts for the Dukes. JMU immediately started scoring and we’ve never looked back. So this C’ville fave gets the nod this week.

Official JMUSB Prediction

In boxing they say “styles make fights.” In March Madness, you often hear coaches talk about a specific matchup more than how overall “good” the teams in their way are. We’re confident the Dukes are a better overall team right now than Georgia Southern, but we’re not nearly as sure from a pure “matchup” standpoint. This is likely the most pure passing-based offense JMU will see this year. And while Vantrease isn’t mobile, the Eagles get the ball out quick which helps their developing line and slows down their opponent’s pass rush. In other words, some of the things we’ve come to rely on about JMU (e.g. non-mobile QB’s struggle, JMU destroys running teams) may not apply this week. With a few players banged up and Homecoming on deck, this feels like the most “trappish” game left on the schedule. Still think the Dukes are just too damned good.

JMU 41, Georgia Southern 23


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  1. Steve Brown / Oct 14 2022

    I have JMU 45 and GSU 24.

  2. CJ / Oct 14 2022

    Great accomplishment for the team and great milestone for the program to break into the Top 25. Regardless of what happens from here on out, I’d say this season is a success already. But those rankings can be just as much of a curse than a blessing. I remember when we were ranked #1 in FCS it seemed to be more of a distraction than a benefit.

    Statesboro can be a tough place to play and they will surely be fired up about taking down a ranked team. Ga. Southern has a track record of upsets as well so I hope we maintain our focus and intensity. Now that we’re in the FBS it can be tough to slug it out every week against heavyweights.

    I’m always nervous about being too confident. But with Centeio on his game, a stout defensive line, sustained offensive drives that have a good mix of run and pass, and solid coaching adjustments as the game progresses, we should be good.

  3. Hart / Oct 14 2022

    It is hard to stop a passing offense from moving the ball, but it is also hard for a passing offense not to make any crippling mistakes all game.
    The bandwagon is gonna need a few more seats if the Dukes can win their 3rd conference road game. Protect the ball and this one gets out of hand.

    Dogs 45
    Birds 24

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