Nov 4 / Todd

JMU @ Louisville: Official JMUSB Game #8 Preview

Feed this man!

The Basics

Matchup: JMU Dukes (5-2, 3-2 Sun Belt) at Louisville Cardinals (5-3, 3-3 ACC)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EDT. Saturday, November 5, 2022, Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky

Weather: Chance of showers, temps around 60

Broadcast: ESPNU

Boys in the Desert: Louisville -7.5, O/U 55 (opened at Cards by 10 so make of that what you will)

How We Got Here

The good vibes coaster in Harrisonburg has been in the shop for almost a month with broken parts. After winning their first five and becoming the first FBS newbie to ever be ranked in the AP Top 25, humility has returned the favor. The Dukes lost a heartbreaker in Statesboro, then lost QB1 Todd Centeio on the day before Homecoming and both tackles in a directionless learning experience against Marshall. They’ve had a MUCH-needed bye week to hopefully heal up, or at least get Billy Atkins and the backups on the line some proper work to prepare.

Louisville has been one of the weirdest and most inconsistent teams in the nation. Not bad, and a high ceiling, but just strange. They’ve managed to lose to Boston College but just blew the doors off a then-#10 Wake Forest this past week. National and Local media have been on hot-seat watch for Coach Scott Satterfield seemingly forever, but really the Cards have so far come through a strange season about where most would’ve predicted and had arguably their two best results the last two weeks.

How Louisville Can Win

Two ways. The first is simple: Todd Centeio and some combination of his two offensive tackles Tyshawn Wyatt and Nick Kidwell don’t play. But assuming at least two, and hopefully three, of those guys play, the Cards will need to work to win this. The second way is jumping out early and taking away any hope from the underdog Dukes. QB Malik Cunningham has been rumored to be the heir to the Lamar Jackson crown in Louisville for a couple of years, but so far only his running legs have been close to replicating the Ravens’ stars’ college days. The Cards have been inconsistent in the passing game all year and have had to rely on Cunningham getting outside and their defense, which has been a pressure-creating machine that has produced a few huge games in the turnover department. Last week Louisville forced EIGHT turnovers by the vaunted Deacons offense, including six in the runaway locomotive third quarter leading to 35 points in that frame to turn a tight game into a shocking blowout.

The other major factor for Louisville is not to overlook the Dukes (no matter who the QB1 is in purple). With a finishing stretch of Clemson, NC State, and rival Kentucky left after this, they need to avoid this trap that could turn a reasonably alright 5-3 into a 5-7 and a new coaching staff right quick.

How JMU Can Win

Hang in there early. Against this defense, JMU simply can’t afford to fall too far behind in first half and let the pass rush get into it. Controlling the clock and stealing any energy in Louisville’s crowd on a soggy night, at least early, will really help the Dukes regain their own belief and set up the passing game later. There will absolutely be chances for Brown, Green, and KT but we’d like to see JMU be conservative on those early.

Big plays. With two weeks to prepare, we’re certainly optimistic that the Dukes will have a few of the special things we saw the last time they had a bye (App St.). Not necessarily true “gimmicks,” but the double-move we saw to Green must’ve been a CB weakness noticed on film along with that weird two-point play that somehow ended up with a wide open Kris Thornton. That kind of preparation from Cignetti, Shanahan, and co. (especially if it’s Atkins and/or Barnett) could be key against an opponent that may be overlooking our boys.

A little luck wouldn’t hurt either. The announcement that JMU will playing in their “championship” uni set of White/Purple/White for the first time ever in a true road game, maybe things are starting to come up Millhouse again all of a sudden! In general, being on the positive side of the turnover margin for the first time in a few games would go a long way this week.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Beer?! You must be kidding. The Dukes are finally making the trip to the heart of Kentucky’s best asset, its Bourbon Trail! And this week calls for something special, but still relatively accessible. We’re going with Angel’s Envy, as apparently it’s the “beer” of choice in-stadium as a major sponsor in Cardinals Stadium. It’s a great introduction when you’re making a half-step up in quality and price because it’s definitely on the mellower/lighter end of the spectrum. It’s also one of our “available” favorites (meaning you have a reasonable chance of scoring some at your local ABC store without the need for miracles or “knowing a guy”) alongside Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, many of the special offerings from Four Roses, and our absolute old standby, Woodford Reserve. But with a 7:30 kick on national tv (ESPNU) and unseasonably warm weather predicted back here in the Commonwealth, you can find something even more special from the Bluegrass State if that’s your thing and fire it up around your fire pit, at a watch party, or right in the JMU tailgate section at the stadium. Don’t drive, but otherwise this game’s kickoff time and exciting opponent don’t exactly call for too much responsibility. Sometimes even excess is good in moderation, particularly when it happens to be the one night you get an extra hour to sleep!

Official JMUSB Prediction

These Dukes ain’t done. It’s gonna take some good fortune for the Centeio/Wyatt/Kidwell/Walker foursome to all be out there and to all make it through this one upright, but after a crummy month, the sun feels like it’s due to shine on the Dukes again. Overlooked underdogs is the role JMU has performed best in (see MTSU, App) this year and now the boys in purple are back there. Make no mistake, Louisville is the most talented roster JMU will face all year and very few results would be worth getting upset or making bold pronouncements about the program for. But even with that bit of hedging, we LOVE the Dukes to find their belief, spark, and crispness of execution again after the bye and put the Sun Belt back in the national conversation for a showing out against a fancier conference’s team.

JMU 31, Louisville 30 (Wise at the buzzer FTW)

One Comment

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  1. CJ / Nov 4 2022

    I’m going to sum up the Marshall game and the Louisville game in one word: Quarterback. By the 2nd quarter of the Marshall game, it became very evident that Atkins was not going to be able to lead the offense to a win. His accuracy and mobility simply wasn’t there. I give huge credit to our defense and even our running backs for keeping us in the game, but without a capable quarterback it’s almost impossible to win at the FBS level.

    I’m not trying to trash Atkins and I’m not trying to be negative, but it is what it is. I know we’ve only seen one start from Atkins, but to me he looks like an average FCS quarterback at best. He has a long way to go if he’s going to develop into a competent FBS QB that will enable us to be competitive next year. We desperately need to find an FBS-level QB for next season.

    If Atkins is starting against Louisville, I’m going to say we have very little chance of winning the game. Centeio is a solid FBS-level QB, and Louisville is a very talented team. Only with Centeio do we have a fighting chance against the Cardinals.

    We have pretty good talent and I think our coaching has been pretty good as well…but depth seems to be our biggest weakness at this point.

    I’ll end with some positivity…regardless of what happens from here on out, I’m very pleased with this season. Making history as the first freshman FBS team to make the top 25, and that legendary win against App State, were huge, and I think its reason for optimism about the future of the program.

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