Nov 17 / Todd

Georgia St. @ JMU: Official JMUSB Game #10 Preview

Running Back Kaelon Black carries the ball against Appalachian State
Feed the RB’s!

The Basics

Matchup: Georgia State Panthers (4-6, 3-3 Sun Belt) at JMU Dukes (6-3, 4-2 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST. Saturday, November 19, 2022, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Sunny. High 42. Season has changed; plan accordingly.

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: JMU -9.5, O/U 53

How We Got Here

Even with injuries continuing to cause problems, the Dukes looked considerably closer to their high-flying selves in Norfolk last week with the healthy return of huge contributors like Tackle Nick Kidwell, Linebacker Jailyn Walker, and QB1 looking like normal (tbd after the ankle last week though).

Georgia State on the other hand is the most Jekyll-and-Hyde team the Dukes have seen all year. Take a look at their progression through the schedule and tell us what to make of it:

35-14 L @ South Carolina (expected), 35-28 L vs. UNC (strong showing), 42-41 L vs. Charlotte (WTF?!), 41-24 L vs. Coastal (maybe about right but now they’re 0-4), 31-14 W @ Army (proud showing), 41-33 W vs. Georgia Southern (definitely not mailing it in yet), 42-17 L @ App (bad performance against an overrated team), 31-17 W vs. ODU (happy times for Homecoming as injuries start to mount for the Monarchs), 42-14 W @ Southern Miss (hell yes, the traditional late-season-push is on from the Panthers and almost back to .500), 31-28 L vs. UL Monroe (WTH? at home?!)

As you can tell, there is simply no consistent narrative that makes the Panthers’ campaign make any sense. But they’ve got two games left and need two wins to get back to .500 and become bowl eligible. Is that motivation enough to play well on a cold day in the Valley?

How Georgia State Can Win

Play one of their good games and ride a balanced offense to win a high-scoring affair. Georgia St. has strong athletes on defense, but let’s be realistic – the only teams they’ve held below 24 points in 9 games so far are run-ONLY teams Army and Southern Miss who each still managed 14 points and offensively-limited ODU who got to 17. They generously gave up 40 plus to App, Coastal, and Charlotte (seriously, Charlotte). The Panthers average 30 points a game. They also give up 30 points a game. They simply have to keep scoring and hope the Dukes make the kind of mistakes that cost them the Ga. Southern game.

QB Darren Grainger is the best true dual-threat QB that JMU has seen yet. He’s coming off a game where he threw for 349 and rushed for 81 on a substantial 17 carries. Receiver Jamari Thrash has been a standout all year and RB Marcus Carroll is solid all-around. That offense better come to play these last couple weeks as Georgia State heads north to the mountains in both weeks to JMU and Marshall, two teams that play a bit of defense.

How JMU Can Win

Be smart (maybe even cautious?) on offense and swallow up any will to win on defense. If JMU can play the kind of defense we’ve come to expect this week – largely shutting down the run game and making a few plays on the back end – this could be a rude awakening for the Panthers. It’s going to be a chilly 40-ish degrees (Dukes fans know the difference between 40 in NoVa or RVA and 40 in the ‘Burg) and the Dukes should be charged back up after righting the ship last week.

Offensively, JMU just needs to be crisp and relatively mistake-free. Georgia State’s track record is clear that competent teams will get to the 30’s and if the Dukes can avoid turnovers, feed the backfield trio and take what’s there, there’s zero reason to think they won’t do the same. If Centeio is limited at all after appearing to sprain an ankle last week, that will be even more reason to lean on the running backs and the short passing game (could we see more WR screens to Thornton and Ravenel again?).

Historical Footnote

This will be JMU’s second time playing (and hosting) Georgia St. The Panthers spent one season in 2012 in the CAA before bolting for the Sun Belt. The Dukes won that game 28-21 at Bridgeforth in one of the bash-your-head-in Mickey-iest games ever. Michael Birdsong was making his first collegiate start, and his only one that season, after Justin Thorpe had been injured the previous week at Bridgeforth East. Birdsong was predictably bad in that offense that day and the Dukes hammered it with the only offensive sparkplug of the late-era Mickey days, Dae’Quan Scott who went for 130 on 25 carries. We remember being at the game and before it was even over discussing how it was going to be one of the most forgettable games we would ever have been at and that thought has aged well (or aged poorly depending on your perspective). Here’s to starting fresh with a Georgia St. team that could end up being more of a rival than we realize over the next decade in both football and hoops.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Skipping Rock Roasted Pecan Brown English Brown Ale – You may not realize it, but Staunton’s Skipping Rock has bought out Pale Fire and that makes our old friends in the ‘burg worth re-visiting these days. Not only do they finally have tv’s now where you can actually watch the game, but they also kept the better beers but have started brewing in a way that won’t leave your gut a mess the next morning. Oh yeah, and Skipping Rock has been turning out a solid lineup for a while. This time of year is perfect for this almost smoky brown ale. Plus, they’re doing things up and down the Valley as they’re opening another small satellite tasting room under the Pale Fire name in Basye just outside the entrance to Bryce Resort – think the original Devil’s Backbone circa 2011 before all the AB/InBev nonsense.

Official JMUSB Prediction

ATL kids headed north on a cold, windy day with the sweet smell of butchered poultry flying up and down 81 for Thanksgiving next week. What could go wrong? Everything!

JMU 38, Georgia St. 17


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  1. CJ / Nov 17 2022

    Great win last week. I definitely didn’t see that coming and thought ODU would give us more of a challenge, but I’ll certainly take the win. ODU fans were equally surprised at their team’s pitiful performance, because I read the entertaining comments on the ODU Football facebook page. Several comments about the obnoxiousness of the JMU fans throwing streamers and such. Also some comments questioning why ODU, with their superior climate, facilities, and location, manages to lose quality football recruits to a school “way out in the sticks” like JMU. And several comments about how JMU is basically an FCS program, which of course made the loss even more humiliating. Some good reading. But overall I agree that ODU probably should have had a better showing.

    With the momentum we picked up last week, I’m inclined to feel cheerfully confident about the Georgia State game. But the reality is that FBS teams are capable of beating most anybody else under the right circumstances, so there are never any gimmes. As I’ve said before, the biggest factor may be whether Centeio plays and if he’s at 100%. If Atkins is in, it’s going to be a tough day for the Dukes. Hard to win a game when your QB can’t throw or scramble.

    Looking ahead, the Coastal game is probably going to be another Louisville-type matchup. They’ll be tough to beat regardless, and now they’ve got an extra bye week to prepare with the UVa cancellation. Nevertheless, a 7-4 season is much better than I imagined. Our talents, coaching staff included, really displayed that our team deserves to be on the FBS level and is a force to be reckoned with.

  2. Steve Brown / Nov 18 2022

    GA State—13

    I don’t see how GA State stops JMU’s offense. JMU’s defense will be the best defense GA State has faced all year. JMU wants it more and has more to play for in many ways.

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