Nov 10 / Todd

UConn @ JMU: Official JMUSB Game #10 Preview

The Basics

Matchup: UConn Huskies (1-8, Independent) at #21 JMU Dukes (9-0, 6-0 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: 47, Sunny

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: JMU -24.5, O/U 48.5

How We Got Here

UConn got blown out at Tennessee. It was not unexpected but the final was a bit deceiving as the Vols scored three defensive/specials TD’s in the third quarter to really make it look silly. That’s really a microcosm of the Huskies’ season overall, which has them reeling at 1-8 for a team that has played very well at times. UConn hung very tough with NC State early on and choked away a win in a one-point loss to the same Utah St. team that JMU struggled to put away.

After an uneven first half, the Dukes absolutely rolled in Atlanta last weekend over a Georgia State team that crumbled after getting punched in the mouth. The win was great and continued to show that JMU keeps improving as it heads down the stretch. Unfortunately, the win was a bit tainted by the loss of Jalen Green.

In an odd scheduling quirk, this will be the second time this year the Dukes have played a team that just got blown out by Tennessee. UVA played a hell of a lot better against JMU in Week 2 than they had in their opener and it’s certainly possible UConn does the same.

Finally, in the big picture this is a fun matchup for old heads that remember these teams sharing a conference back in the Yankee/A-10 days of yesteryear.

How UConn Can Win

Stop beating themselves and hang in till the pressure builds on JMU. UConn rushing attack, led by Victor Rosa, has been solid and capable of breaking big runs in the outside zone scheme all year. JMU will be reshuffling the line after losing Green (and we assume moving Kromah outside full time while inserting Tucker/Bush in the middle alongside Carp) and the Huskies will be looking to take advantage of any potential confusion. But what UConn really has to do is stop beating themselves. Turnovers on offense and enormous plays given up in the passing game defensively have doomed many of their efforts this season. But if they can play a clean game and hang around into the second half, the pressure will build on a JMU team with so much on the line. We hate even typing this, but UConn is probably not even close 24 points worse than the Dukes as the line suggests, but the real question is can they be focused enough on the road in an odd place (for them) at this point in a long season?

How JMU Can Win

Put this team away when you have the chance. After sputtering a bit early, JMU didn’t hesitate to put its foot on Georgia State’s neck when the chance presented itself just after halftime last week and they’ll need to do the same this week. If the Dukes have a chance to put two scores between them and the Huskies, they need to take advantage this week. This will be UConn’s last shot to make noise nationally with only their FCS game and UMass remaining on the schedule and the Dukes cannot allow them to build belief as this game moves along.

There really aren’t huge scheme issues here. If the Dukes OLine continues giving McCloud time, the big plays over the top will come. Defensively, they need to be better against the run (including QB Roberson who is a capable runner) than they were last week but if they can force UConn into passing situations, the rush should feast even in Green’s absence this week. One of the most interested things to watch will be how the DLine adjusts this week. They’ll undoubtedly miss Green’s pure speed around the edge, but playing Kromah and Kamara outside with Carpenter and Tucker inside will actually make them “bigger” than they’ve been. With hopefully the continuously improving health of Taurus Jones and Jailin Walker at LB alongside Aiden Fisher, it’s possible the defense doesn’t “drop off” so much as simply change it’s approach and appearance the next three (or four?) games.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Commonwealth Brewing Company’s Superluminal West Coast IPA – We’ve been huge fans of Virginia Beach’s finest for years, but they’d gone so heavy on uber-hazy stuff (following Veil’s lead??) that we’ve been a bit more luke-warm on some new offerings. Not anymore! With the opening of their kick-ass new taproom in Fairfax City, we’ve gotten to dive a lot deeper on their full lineup without committing to expensive four-packs. And finding Superluminal was a true reminder of how excited we got when Papi Chulo and Marvolo were new. Go drink this.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 38, UConn 10 – We’ve been hesitant to pick blowouts, but while this may be close for a while, our expectation is the Dukes defense rallies after losing Green and is simply better than most of what the Huskies have seen this year.

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