Nov 22 / Todd

JMU at Coastal Carolina: Official JMUSB Game #12 Preview

Quick Note from JMUSB HQ

We not only have the usual preview, but we’re thrilled to present a guest piece from current JMU student Annalee Hunniford all about last week from the student perspective. She wrote the kind of raw, unfiltered good shit we used to aim for but have slowly mellowed away from without even realizing it. When she reached out we were skeptical for a moment. But then we read it! And holy hell did it make us proud to be Dukes and so reassured about everything we’ve been saying on the pod about how these students are going to be an entirely different breed of JMU fan than anything prior to about 2015. Students now are fans from Day One and they bleed purple without any hesitation about hanging onto whatever shade of orange that may have been hanging in their childhood homes. Hope you love it as much as we did and enormous thanks to Annalee!

The Basics

Matchup: #24 JMU Dukes (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (7-4, 5-2 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST, Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina

Weather: 66, partly cloudy

Broadcast: ESPN2

Boys in the Desert: JMU -9, O/U 50.5

How We Got Here

JMU suffered the most heartbreaking regular season loss in program history last week and has spent the week with everyone from university leadership to fans like us handling it with the the maturity of a worn-out toddler being told to go to bed. Before the OT-winning TD, JMU was rolling through a dream season and regardless of postseason outcomes, it’s beyond frustrating to forget about all that greatness ON THE FIELD despite terrible rules outside our control or horrendously handled PR from our inside the house.

Coastal got beat into submission last week by an Army team that made a surprise return to the full triple option. But taking a closer look at Coastal, they’ve had a deceptively good year despite being without Grayson McCall for the latter half. With last week’s exception, their losses came early. At UCLA was understandable and the losses to the two SBC Georgia teams JMU stomped were also back when those teams knew how to play football. Before the loss at West Point, the Chants had won five straight SBC games @App, @Ark St., vs. Marshall, @ODU, and vs. Texas St. – all solid opponents and good wins. After McCall left the App game injured, they won the other four with two different QBs and generally have been solid in all phases.

How Coastal Can Win

One thing that seems obvious with Coastal the last two years over two coaching regimes is they only show up when they have to and when they have something at stake. Last week against Army had no bearing on their SBC East chances and they played like it. Last year at JMU was the same (plus their coach was leaving that week). But this week they have everything at stake (in no small part thanks to JMU leadership). Win and they not only clinch another trip to Troy for the SBC Championship game, but this year they would also do so without even the huge asterisk from last year as they’d be tied with JMU and App by record but have won it outright given wins over both. Lose and they could still get in with a Georgia Southern win over App, but that would be an even larger asterisk than last year.

On the field, they should probably just throw it over and over to school legend WR/TE sam Pinckney because as the Dukes have shown, their defense seems designed to give up 10 yard possession-style catches all day unless the rush gets home – something it hasn’t been able to do nearly as effectively since losing Jalen Green a few weeks ago.

Defensively is the spot where Coastal has been underatedly competent all year. As usual against JMU, the question is can you pressure McCloud enough for four quarters to prevent the nearly inevitable Brown/Sarratt explosive plays?

How JMU Can Win

Find motivation. That’s it. Simple gameplan questions for the Dukes this week as usual. On offense can they run the ball enough to keep the Chants honest and open up their explosive passing game? On defense, are they will to send more guys in the pass rush against a backup QB and risk playing more press-man coverage on the outside?

But none of that really matters if the players and coaches are still as devastated and distracted as us fans have been come Saturday. It definitely takes a few days to shake off a loss that tough, but the Dukes have to realize no matter what’s happened on the “eligibility” front, they’ll still remember this season waaaaay differently if they win this one to get to 11-1, win the East again, and finish ranked no matter what happens around the country in terms of bowl eligibility. And if things do break their way around the country this week (still a distinct possibility), making the program’s first ever bowl appearance at 11-1 will feel a hell of a lot better than 10-2.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – The OG. At turkey time, you want a little more malt flavor to pair with your leftovers even if you still love hops like us and this old standby will never steer you wrong.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 24, Coastal 23 – Most people outside of JMU fans (and even many of those) won’t realize this, but this would arguably be the most impressive win of the Cignetti era in terms of difficulty. Coastal is competent (meant as a real complement) at everything and playing for a legit East title instead of last year after an impressive turnaround midseason this year. JMU is trying to recover from having a tough loss and a letdown from the adults all around them that shouldn’t make this all so rough. But we simply believe in the 10-1 team more than the 7-4 team and guys like Lawton, Brown, and Kromah playing in their last regular season game with no guarantees beyond that aren’t going down without getting their teammates to fight.

Special Student Retrospective on All the Incredible Things From Last Week by Annalee Hunniford (Class of 2025)

Hello fellow dukes and friends!
My name is Annalee and i am a Junior here at JMU. It’s currently thanksgiving break
and i just got my wisdom teeth out yesterday, so please excuse any run on sentences
and random prose.
a quick intro
last Wednesday during my evening class, my professor was talking about an old
Harrisonburg bar called the “Highlawn Pavilion”. the glory in which he described this bar
peaked my interest because in 2023, the Harrisonburg bar scene is absolutely nothing
to write home about. therefore, i obviously had to google this bar, which landed me here
at Rob & Todd’s blog, on a guest article written about “the best short lived Harrionburg
bars”. i spent the better part of the 2 1/2 hour class reading their blog and imagining the
savory Harrisonburg social scene that i never got to experience. things are quite
different these days it seems; the bar scene is small and strict and the frat parties and
tailgates usually don’t last more than a few hours before getting busted. regardless, i
still have the time of my life every weekend. JMU is the BEST school and i will die on
that hill. BUT I DIGRESS… i come from an SEC family, so little ol’ freshman annalee
was determined to make the most of CAA sports, regardless of the “commie” vibes they
gave off. Fall semester of 2021, i was one of the only lunatic freshman standing at the
front of the basketball arena’s student section screaming and holding a sign depicting
“FUCK THE CAA”. you could catch me at every sporting event in head to toe purple,
carrying some random sign i scribbled in my dorm room. when JMU switched to the
SBC, that’s when things REALLY started to get good. as a then sophomore, i had more
freedom; a car, a job, an apartment with a tv….and the money to buy espn+ so i could
indulge in all the JMU Sports i wanted. thus began the mass frenzy of students and
commentators bugging the N*AA to LET US BOWL!
the calm before the storm
flash forward to November 2023. i don’t think i can put into words the excitement
coursing through the student body’s veins when we heard ESPN College Gameday was
coming to Harrisonburg. when the news broke across social media, my roommates and
i were shrieking in our living room; their enthusiasm stemmed from the impending arrival
of the Jonas Brothers, while mine was fueled by the anticipation of College GameDay
spotlighting our team as we prepared to whoop up on some ‘neers (or so i believed).
the only thing i’d kept from an ex-boyfriend during my freshman year was a 2017
College Gameday shirt from the last time ESPN graced JMU. i whipped that thing out
and strutted around campus while everyone asked me where they could get one. you
see, the excitement level was unparalleled because this recognition doesn’t happen to
us Dukes. until this year, we were overlooked by mainstream sports media. the
university’s stringent administration and local PD leave little room for revelry, and school

spirit suffers when students routinely leave games at halftime. when the news hit that
College Gameday was headed to Harrisonburg, all hell broke loose in the best way
possible. at the Pat McAfee show on Friday, Coach Curt Cignetti ignited a collective fire
within us as he vociferously criticized the NCAA for denying us a bowl game. perched
atop my tall friend’s shoulders, the crowd and i chanted “TALK YO SHIT” at Cignetti, a
slogan which i later made into my gameday sign. Pat in his sleeveless JMU Football
tank top was the most attractive and energetic motivator of school spirit we’ve seen yet.
that dude is something else!
my business fraternity friends and i decided we were going to host a 4am “marty”
(morning party) on Saturday. half of us camped out on the quad Friday night in hopes of
getting a spot in the pit, while the other half opted for an early bedtime, popping
melatonin at 7pm (myself included). the plan was simple; get to the party by 4am, rage
our faces off, then walk to the quad by 6am. my mom thinks i’m crazy, but this is the shit
i live for. after all, when else would it be socially acceptable to indulge in vodka
monsters at 4am?
when my alarm went off at 2:45am, i was UP & AT ‘EM. win or lose, the student
body was dedicated on that fine saturday morning. i was astounded at the marty’s
turnout. every Duke in town, past and current, was up and ready to fucking rumble.
even those unfamiliar with or uninterested in college football found themselves in town,
swept up in the infectious excitement ahh, there was an unmistakable energy
permeating the air this weekend.
picture this: it’s 4am and our downtown house is packed full of dukes, hokies,
hoos, and anyone who made the trip down 81 (because, at JMU, hospitality is our forte).
if there’s one thing i’ve learned from our less-than-ideal streak of 12pm kickoff regular
season games, it’s that in order to get people to show up before 9am, someone has got
to take one for the team and pick everyone up. so there i was, cruising down devon lane
in my soccer-mom Honda CRV at 3:45am, picking up anyone who was ready. one of
my friends hopped in the car sporting bloodshot eyes courtesy of yakking from a 3am
empty stomach tequila shot (i never claimed we were the brightest bunch). to my
satisfaction, the box of pancakes i had meticulously prepared the night before was
devoured within 30 minutes of my arrival. those pancakes were my feeble attempt to
ward off the fraternity’s inevitable 4am puking-from-drinking-on-an-empty-stomach.
there ain’t nothin’ more degenerate than blasting house music and being able to
stomach vodka and pancakes at 4am!
by 6am, the “marty” crowd had stumbled down to the quad. my white heeled
cowboy boots were stuffed with airplane bottles of pinnacle vodka, and we ripped one

last shot before bounding out the door. the dimly lit streets were aglow with people
adorned in all kinds of purple and gold. the quad transformed into an organized
madhouse of 26,000 people; a sight so beautiful and American that i shed a tear. having
attended nearly every sporting event at JMU over the past two years, i can attest that
nothing compared to the school spirit and infectious excitement that must’ve been
blowing through ESPN’s quad speakers. i pondered how the morning would go—would
the school and local PD let us revel in our fun, or would they clamp down as they often
do, in fear of the early 2000’s springfest riots surfacing again? as the sun started to rise,
it became evident that this crowd of dukes was going to stay planted on the quad until
tailgate time. i was both delighted yet surprised by how well everyone behaved, even
with hours of liquor in our systems.
my group and i secured a spot on the famed “kissing rock”, with an eye-level
view of the quad in all its morning glory. the rock lived up to its name when, at 7am, i
glanced over and saw my roommate unsteadily macking on some dude (isn’t that a bad
omen, to kiss on the kissing rocks? someone verify or deny in the comments please).
embracing my inner wannabe celebrity, i vlogged the whole morning and time stamped
each update. by 9am, the crowd was ROARING, prompting ESPN officials to declare it
the most spirited Gameday crowd they’d seen in years. when JMU wants to show out,
we show OUT! College Gameday encourages crowds to make and bring signs to hold
up in the background of the show. at JMU, the signs being held up depicted a wild array
of opinions, colors, and choice-words for the NCAA. to an outsider uneducated on
college football, witnessing the crowd might have suggested that JMU was playing a
team named “NCAA,” given the way the signs shit them. some of the best signs i saw, i
can’t even repeat here. the Jonas Brothers and Bailey Zimmerman took the stage
around 9am, performing just one song—a bit of a letdown, but i don’t think anyone was
there solely for their performance. personally, i would’ve been content with a local DJ
spinning hits all morning; the music wasn’t the primary motivation for this spirited crowd.
as game time drew near, the chants got louder. App State was going to hear
from us dukes, win or lose! on that beautiful Saturday morning, 26,000 diverse
individuals shared one commonality: we all bled purple. i’ve never seen JMU exude
such spirit, and while i’d like to believe it will happen again, we did break the Gameday
attendance record, so probably not. it was the most fun i’ve had in college thus far and
these memories will stay with me for life. i now understand the way my dad raves about
his alma mater’s football games and why i grew up in those colors. my future kids will
likely emerge from the womb wearing purple and gold. i’m not a writing major so i don’t
really know how to wrap this amateur article up, but i’ll leave you with a saying: ALL WE

UNTIL I FUCKING DIE, BABY. my face hurts now from the wisdom being extracted out
of my teeth, and with that, goodnight.


leave a comment
  1. OBXDuke83 / Nov 23 2023

    Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for continuing to do this year after year. I look forward to reading it and listening to the podcast. Last week was tough, but I am so proud of this team. I think they will bounce back and move to 11-1.
    Go Dukes!

  2. holly / Nov 23 2023

    annalee ur just awesome. i love u to death!!!!

  3. OBXDUKE83 / Nov 23 2023

    Thank you Annalee! That was fun to read. Way to capture the mood.

  4. CJ / Nov 24 2023

    What a game last week. I think both teams didn’t play well until the end of the game. Love the way JMU kept fighting and made a comeback against all odds…that’s a measure of good coaching and why I feel confident they will come to win against Coastal.

    Speaking of coaching, how many offers do you think Cignetti will get in the offseason? Oh yeah, we don’t talk about that. Until the elephant grows large enough that we can’t ignore it any longer.

    I for one (and I’m probably one of the few) totally applaud AG Miyares for standing up and fighting for JMU. There are millions of dollars in rewards for post-season play, which JMU has completely earned, and to deny them that opportunity based on essentially no good reason is contrary to the spirit of athletics and general common sense. Good for Miyares for going to bat for JMU.

    Putting the NCAA nonsense aside (you guys are clowns, NCAA, plain and simple)…this has been an amazing season, one that none of us could have envisioned just a few years ago. I think the publicity we gained (throughout the media who have advocated for us), ESPN Game Day, our AP rankings, have all been incredibly valuable. I’m looking forward to hearing the stats from our admissions department because I’m sure there is going to be a surge of applicants to JMU this year.

    And as if that wasn’t enough, our basketball team has magic the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 30 years! Again, coaching makes all the difference! Can’t believe we allowed this program to flounder and digress under the mismanagement of Lou Rowe (sorry guys, I know you love Lou Rowe, but that doesn’t mean he was fit to be head coach). Anyway, all’s well that ends well if it led to where we are right now.

    Okay good talk, guys. I’ll shut up now for another season.

  5. Rob K / Nov 24 2023

    Annalee – great post! Love to hear about the students and their perspective! I was walking with some students to the stadium for the game and they were telling me they also started partying at 5 AM. I had no idea that was even a possible option – but good on you all to make it a reality!

  6. CJ / Nov 25 2023

    Even ESPN2 talking about Cignetti’s marketability on the coaching market!

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