Nov 19 / Rob

2021 JMUSB Game Preview #11: JMU vs. Towson

Well, this is how it ends. JMU’s final CAA Football Conference game takes place on Saturday against our old pals, the Towson (State) Tigers. It occurred to me that despite JMU sharing a league with Towson for two decades, I don’t know a single thing about the school. After some extensive research (Wikipedia) however, Saturday’s match-up is apparently a matchup of former normal schools. Like JMU, Towson began as its states flagship school for educating teachers and has grown to a large institution with over 20,000 students today. However, after learning about that little journey, the article immediately jumped to an account of Barry Freundel’s voyeurism, so perhaps it best we end our overview of the school. In any case, Towson has very little fan support and seems perfectly content to ignore its sleeping giant potential in favor of abject mediocrity. We think that makes the Tigers the perfect final CAA opponent for the Dukes. Let’s go.

The Basics

Matchup: #2 JMU Dukes (9-1, 6-1 in that league) vs. Towson Tigers (4-6, 3-4 CAA)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST. Saturday November 20, 2021, Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, high 48

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington or you can Go with the Flo

How We Got Here

If you weren’t paying attention to Towson football last spring (and be honest, you weren’t), you might have missed that they took the season off. Any thoughts that the extra rest would give the Tigers a competitive advantage this Fall were quickly dismissed when everyone remembered that it was Towson. The Tigers have had their typical up and down season, during which they’ve managed to sneak in a good win over Rhody, a pair of wins over lesser CAA schools, and a number of relatively impotent performances to fill out the rest of the schedule. They’re currently coming off a two game skid with losses to RU and Elon. In last weekend’s 37-14 defeat to Elon, the Tigers trotted out a 3 QB attack to open the game. It didn’t work. Despite the disappointing result, Jerry Howard Jr. ran for 126 yards on only 17 carries. That’s legit. So is he.

JMU on the other hand is riding a 5 game winning streak and fresh off a 32-22 win over William & Mary. Against the Tribe, JMU’s offense struggled in the red zone, but move the ball pretty well all day. Defensively, the Dukes managed to keep the William & Mary offense in check for all but a few plays. Of course those few plays that they let up resulted in scores. The fact remains that despite its red zone struggles, JMU won handily. Again.

How Towson Can Win

The Tigers will go as far as Jerry Howard Jr. can take them. The Georgia Tech transfer has been a real bright spot for Towson. He’s exceeded 100 yards rushing in 3 of his last 5 games. He’s a big back and should be the focus on the Tiger attack on Saturday. They’re best hope is to pound the ball with him and keep the Dukes offense on the sidelines. If they do that, and JMU fails to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns, they’ll have a chance.

How JMU Can Win

JMU has shown that they can win games even when the offense stalls near the end zone, but they really need to punch it in for a few touchdowns. This is the last game of the regular season and a great chance to build momentum for the playoffs. The offensive line has stepped up in the passing game lately. They need to find a way to have the same sort of success with the ground game. The Dukes have proven that they can win with “B” games from the offense and a stellar performance from Ethan Ratke. They need to get back to their more successful ways of running the ball effectively while spreading the ball around in the air. JMU has shown us brief peaks of championship level play this season. This regular season finale would be a great time for them to put together a full 60 minutes hitting on all cylinders.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Lazersnake by 3 Floyds Brewing. This brewery out of Indiana has been well know by beer fans for ages. It’s only been relatively recently that we could find its beers where we live in Virginia. Not much more to say about it other than their stellar reputation is deserved. Lazersnake is a good, no nonsense IPA. Drink it and root for Dukes.

Official JMUSB Prediction

The Dukes put the clamps on the Tigers run game, Latrelle Palmer goes off, and Cole slings it around all day. JMU is going to go out of the CAA with a bang. The Dukes should win and win big. We’re thinking 35-10 good guys. Enjoy the game everyone.

Nov 14 / Rob

Quick Thoughts On JMU 32 – William & Mary 22

The Dukes kicked off their burn it all down tour of CAA destruction with a 10 point victory over the William & Mary Tribe. It was more methodical than exciting. But it was a win. And it moved JMU to 9-1 overall. Only a regular season finale against Towson stands between the Dukes and another double-digit win campaign. Cole Johnson had another 300 yard day in the air, completing 24 of 42 for 334 yards and a score. The Dukes moved the ball effectively all day, but struggled to convert red zone opportunities into TDs. Thankfully, Ethan Ratke made sure that didn’t bit them. The super senior had another historic day, converting all 6 of his field goal attempts. Defensively, Kelvin Azanama lead the way with 7 tackles overall and 2 for a loss. Overall, it was a solid win in what might be JMU last game in the lesser ‘burg for the foreseeable future. Here are a few quick thoughts on the win.

Give It Up For Mr. Ratke

Ethan Ratke set two NCAA records during the game. After hitting a program single game record 6 field goals, he’s officially kicked more than anyone in NCAA history. He’s sitting at 100 field goals and counting. That’s preposterous. He’s also the all time leading scorer when you factor in extra points, with 517 points. That is also preposterous. Fans might be frustrated with the Dukes inability to find the end zone as frequently as some past years (more on that later), but thanks to Ratke they managed to score on all 7 trips to the red zone against the Tribe. The guy has hit some of the biggest kicks in JMU history and he just keeps on going.

A Step Back Inside the 20

JMU moved the ball effectively against a pretty good Tribe D most of the game. The Dukes mixed it up in the passing game and spread the ball around. Eight different players caught passes. JMU was able to exploit matchups and get the ball to guys in position to make plays for most of the game. But things seemed to get complicated in the red zone. In its first possession in goal to go territory, JMU ran three versions of the same fade and failed to connect each time. In earlier games, it was JMU’s stubborn reluctance to get away from running inside that prevented them from getting 6 points. I know folks will disagree, but the struggles in this game seemed more related to execution than philosophy. On the the 3 aforementioned fades, the line gave Cole time and the receivers found space, but they couldn’t connect. It’s frustrating to see the repetition, but at least one of the 3 plays should have succeeded. JMU offense seems to rely on pass catchers in the flats making guys miss or going over the top. Those types of plays can be tough to execute inside the 20 as the field shrinks. JMU has enough weapons where it should be able to scheme something up near the goal line. But it’s also going to take guys stepping up and simply making plays.

Guess JMU is a Passing Team

Despite both Kris Thornton and Antwan Wells Jr. wowing fans during Spring football, most of us thought the JMU offense would be run focused. That hasn’t been the case. William & Mary has a good defense and JMU running back corps is plenty banged up. But this was not a great running performance by the Dukes. They averaged only 2.5 yards per carry. That’s not good enough. Despite the injuries and relative inexperience, the offense line was pretty good pass protection. Cole had plenty of time to throw most of the day. Things were a bit messier in terms of run blocking though. Latrelle Palmer is a terrific runner, but it’s asking too much of him to make guys miss before he gets to the line of scrimmage repeatedly. With only one more regular season game before the playoffs, JMU needs to figure things out quickly. The running game was supposed to be the strength of this team. Coming out of this win, it’s closer to a question mark.

Broadcast Amateur Hour

The terrible FloSports media deal is one of many reasons we’re anxious for JMU to move on from the CAA. It provides limited exposure and very little money for the league. The actual Flo app is much improved this season however. The problems are more of the garbage in, garbage out variety. Too many CAA schools have poor quality production with bad camera angles, limited replays, and overall junior varsity efforts. William & Mary’s technical production was fine, but what the heck was up with those announcers? We expect a certain degree of homerism whenever it’s another schools’ crew, but these dudes were next level. From calling out Tribe d-backs for “great coverage” as PI flags came flying out of the hands of every single official on the field, to trying to make “late slide” a thing, to ignoring the Tribe’s lack of discipline in favor of alleging that the refs were JMU alums, it was comically bad. William & Mary is one of the most outstanding educational institutions in the world. You might not know it you tuned into this broadcast.

Nov 12 / Todd

2021 JMUSB Game Preview #10: JMU at William & Mary

Time to begin the burn-it-all-down tour. Less animosity towards the Tribe than just about any CAA team, but they’re first on this retribution circuit. Big game, worthy opponent, one more time with the Griffins.

The Basics

Matchup: #2 JMU Dukes (8-1, 5-1 CAA) at William & Mary Tribe (6-3, 4-2 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST. Saturday November 13, 2021, Zable Stadium, the lesser ‘burg

Weather: Sunny, high 64

Broadcast: YurView (we don’t know what this is) or you can Go with the Flo (but we understand cancelling immediately with a clear explanation as to why)

How the Tribe Can Win

Muck it up. This is usually more of a hoops plan for a team that needs to throw you off your rhythm and turn a game into a rockfight. But it applies well to the Tribe this year. They really can’t throw the ball consistently and rarely light up the scoreboard, but they can control the ball and have forced oodles of turnovers in the games they’ve played well. In their season-highlighting win over Villanova two weeks ago the Tribe had four picks and a monstrous edge in time of possession. The running game has been strong even without much threat in the passing game and regardless of who has been under center. That’s not usually a formula for success against this JMU defense.

How the Dukes Can Win

Defensively, force W&M to throw and offensively don’t waste possessions. On D, the Dukes need to stop the Tribe from grinding out first downs with the running game and controlling the clock. This isn’t hard to say, but has been harder to execute as Villanova found out. On the other side, Cole and co. need to take every opportunity presented. Limiting wasted plays and penalties is huge against a team that will want to control the clock. Coach Cignetti has been pretty clear that the Tribe’s defense is athletically a better match for JMU than most teams the Dukes see and it will be important to not simply try to fall back on a “count on athleticism” advantage to pull this off.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

Founders All-Day IPA. It’s time to start wearing out CAA foes in every sport. All day. every day. every game. This is the perfect replacement when you’re having way more than one but you’ve reached the point where you understand life is too short for wang-stirred beer (Lite).

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 48, W&M 10. Good night and good bye W&M.

Nov 5 / Todd

2021 JMUSB Game Preview #9: Campbell at JMU

Well what a decade this last week has been! From the high of thinking the SunBelt might happen to the low of learning an inevitable announcement will end postseason aspirations for many JMU teams this year (and maybe next) and leave a group of kids in those sports high and dry when many of them have already had two years of their careers marred by Covid cancellations and reschedulings. There is blame to go around, there are celebrations to be had, there is hope for the long-term future, and sadness and concern for the short-term future. It all adds up to an extreme mix of emotions, positions, thoughts, and of course the accompanying hot and cold takes. We’re on the roller-coaster with everyone else and not always sure what the right answers are.

That said, we’re here to talk about the one program this is really all about. And oddly, the program least affected by realignment in the here-and-now – football. While all conference moves are largely about football, because CAA football is different from CAA everything else, the Dukes season this year can continue as-is.

The Basics

Matchup: Campbell Fightin’ Camels (3-5, 2-3 Big South) at #3 JMU Dukes (7-1, 5-1 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST. Saturday November 6, 2021, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Sunny and chilly, high 52 (perfect!)

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington + (Dudley and Buckhantz) or you can Go with the Flo (but we understand cancelling immediately with a clear explanation as to why)

How the Camels Can Win

Short pass the Dukes wide to death and hope JMU goes back to missing tackles. Hardly anyone has much success running the ball against JMU and Campbell seems likely to hardly even try. Their “running game,” so to speak, is likely to come from lots of swing passes and short stuff on the outside. Oddly, this is an area that frequently scares us with so much roster churn and inconsistency at those positions for JMU this year. The Dukes have the speed to hopefully prevent giving up huge plays, but this isn’t the worst way to attack this team and Campbell could find some success there. The Camels have a pair of strong wideouts in Caleb Snead and Jalen Kelsey that seem capable of giving the Dukes corners fits in this matchup. Campbell is huge up front size-wise but has struggled in the run game.

Defensively, Campbell will have to hope their disruptive defensive lineman Brevin Allen can cause some chaos against JMU’s revamped offensive line because they’ve given up 27 or more points in each of their last five games and those teams didn’t have Cole Johnson, Antoine Wells, Jr., or Latrelle Palmer.

A few fun notes and thoughts on Campbell. The Camels are coached by former Nebraska star Mike Minter. Campbell has not one, but two Fightin’ Camels mascots, Gaylord and Gladys, and they are glorious. Just twenty years ago, Campbell was still a sleepy country school where well-to-do North Carolina kids who didn’t get into one of the big schools but wanted more than a junior college might go. It’s main campus in Buies Creek felt as rural as any place in the state. Randolph-Macon might be a shaky Virginia equivalent. Well things have changed in a big way. Buies Creek, and Harnett County where it sits, have rapidly become almost exurbs of Raleigh, just down the road from the exploding southern suburbs of the Triangle. FCS Football, now in the Big South, and some modest success in hoops have raised the profile of athletics. A gorgeous and growing law school in downtown Raleigh has also begun to put Campbell alums among the movers and shakers in the state. And a thoughtful and creative relationship with North Carolina’s huge military community, with branch campuses and outreach at both Fort Bragg and Camp LeJeune have added to Campbell’s presence in an oft-overlooked part of the state. Needless to say, the pines are still tall and the sandhills are still small, but Campbell is not just another school you’ve never heard of.

How the Dukes Can Win

Keep building on offense and make big plays on defense. The Dukes offense should have a chance to build on last week’s performance where things seemed to click again. Campbell has a few solid players on defense, particularly at LB and in the pass rush, but they do give up points. Anything less than 30 points from JMU would be surprising and disappointing, particularly with the weather finally looking clear for once tomorrow.

However, on defense the Dukes need to make some big plays. Campbell’s WR talent and general gameplan seems well-suited to pose some matchup problems for JMU, but it could also provide opportunities. The Dukes insane speed in the pass-rush could wreak havoc on an enormous but slow-footed OLine and JMU will need to cash in on any opportunities for big plays – sacks, turnovers, etc.

Oh yeah, maybe don’t let all the Sun Belt and Homecoming distractions go to the head either.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. So much to celebrate with this classic beer this week. The end of pumpkin beer season! Fresh hop season! The Sun Belt! Homecoming! And a rich IPA for the anti-IPA beer fanatics in your life. Plus this year it’s finally available in cans so tailgating can commence.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 34, Campbell 17. We think the Dukes slowly but surely pull away to celebration time in this one but not before some frustrating moments. Basically a microcosm of all things JMU athletics this week.

Oct 31 / Rob

Dukes Drop Phoenix 45-21

JMU took possession after the opening kick and promptly marched down the field with relative ease. The Dukes found themselves. After entering the red zone, the Dukes were poised to punch it in and take the early lead. However, after four attempts from inside the 2 yard line, the Dukes coughed the ball up and found themselves with no points for the effort. It was in a word, concerning. It wasn’t just that once again JMU was unable to punch it in for 6, it was the way they failed to do it. The Dukes tried to run up the gut four times. Fans were left wondering if some sort of foolish pride or stubborn refusal to admit that they can’t run inside like some teams of the past would plague the Dukes all season. And then JMU got the ball back and turned the switch. All of the creativity and aggressiveness that fans had been clamoring for was back. In only 1 minute and 39 seconds, the Dukes drove 53 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the JMU red zone curse was broken and JMU cruised to a 45-21 win over Elon.

There was a lot to like about this game. But it all starts with the play of Cole Johnson. The 6th year senior had looked pretty pedestrian coming into this game. In recent games, he looked tentative and like he was playing to avoid mistakes, instead of to make plays. He broke out of his funk in a big way against Elon. A very big way. All he did was complete 22 of 25 attempts for 307 yards and 6 touchdowns. Yes, we said 6 touchdowns. That’s the most any JMU QB has thrown in a single game. Cole was Peak Cole in this game. He stood tall in the pocket, was decisive, and delivered the ball with confidence. He didn’t pass up opportunities for big plays and settle for check downs. He didn’t miss open receivers. He hit his receivers in stride all day. It was about as good a QB performance as you’re going to get.

It wasn’t just Cole who elevated his game. The entire offense snapped out of its funk. Latrelle Palmer lead the rushing attack with 20 carries for 83 yards. With Percy out, Lorenzo Bryant had a productive day, chipping in 44 yards on 11 carries. And the Dukes’ stellar receiving corps had itself a day. Antwane Wells Jr. eclipsed the century mark for receiving yards again. He had 8 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs. He finally looked fully healthy. And as you know, when fully healthy he’s virtually unstoppable. Kris Thornton was right on Wells’ heals, with 95 receiving yards of his own. The really big thing in the passing game was the fact that JMU spread the ball around. A total of 9 guys caught passes. This game showed that when the Dukes are mixing it up and using all of their weapons, they’re very tough to stop.

On defense, JMU was far from dominant, but did what had to be done. The Dukes D has benefited from facing backup QBs so often it’s become routine. Against Elon, JMU had to face Davis Cheek, one of the top QBs in the league. Cheek led his Elon team to a victory over JMU back in 2018. That single win makes him one of the most successful CAA QBs the Dukes have faced in the past 5 years. He’s a really good player who came into the game red hot. And JMU made him look kind of average. The Dukes held him to only 18 of 33 for 198 yards. They did it by creating pressure and not giving him time. JMU sacked Cheeks 4 times. They had him on his heels more times than that. After giving up a big play for a TD and an efficient 75 yard TD drive, the D settled in and really limited what Elon was able to do. It was a good effort against a capable opponent.

All in all, it was a very strong performance for JMU. The Dukes are sitting at 7-1 and suddenly there’s a clear path to a top 4 playoff seed again. A surprisingly dangerous William & Mary team knocked off Villanova and Southern Illinois. With those losses, if JMU wins out, the Dukes will likely be no worse than the 3 seed. Unless of course the committee hands it to some 7-4 MVFC team because “MVFC.” JMU has a homecoming game against a maybe future CAA Campbell Fighting Camels squad. After that, the Dukes head to the lesser ‘burg to face William & Mary in what might unexpectedly be the CAA game of the year. Everyone is (rightfully) excited about the future of JMU football and the move to the Sun Belt. But the present is pretty damn exciting too.

Oct 29 / Todd

2021 JMUSB Game Preview #8: Elon at JMU

There’s an important game ON THE FIELD at Bridgeforth tomorrow y’all. We know, we’ve also been guilty of overlooking that fact at times this week as the wait for the Sun Belt must wait another week. Next week for Homecoming against Campbell we can all blow things out and truly celebrate the “Official” future of JMU Athletics (and the end of all the dumbass campaign commercials on tv!) but this week the focus needs to be on winning a CAA game team against a 3-1 in conference Elon team. The Phoenix were up and down the first four weeks (close loss to Wofford in Week 1, close win over Campbell week 2, understandable loss to App. St., and a shootout loss to W&M) but have found their stride with three straight decisive (ten plus points) wins in conference over Richmond, Maine, and UNH coming into this week.

The Basics

Matchup: Elon Phoenix (4-3, 3-1 CAA) at #5 JMU Dukes (6-1, 4-1 CAA)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST. Saturday October 30, 2021, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Off and on rain, 50’s

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington (with Buckhantz!) or you can Go with the Flo

How the Phoenix Can Win

Jump up early and collapse the middle. Even with all of JMU’s recent struggles in the red zone, Elon needs to get off to a good start so they can control the clock and the game. They haven’t scored more than 33 in a game all year (and only scored 30 twice; once a loss to W&M) and simply cannot afford to get in a track meet with the Dukes. Defensively, they need to take the opportunity presented by JMU’s reshaped and banged-up O-Line to limit the JMU inside run game like a few other teams have been able to do lately.

Offensively, they need to be sharp in the quick-passing game and not rely on Davis Cheek to stay alive for slow-developing plays. He’s capable, but that’s not sustainable against this JMU rush. JMU shuts down the run and we don’t expect anything different this week, but Elon will be looking to use their quick-pass game in its place and needs to force JMU’s DB’s to show they’re ready.

How the Dukes Can Win

First, be ready early. Elon is well-coached and they’ve scored right out of the gate the last couple weeks. There is no time for a sleepy start from the Dukes. Defensively, the Dukes have to get home with their pressure on Phoenix QB Davis Cheek. Yes, he’s beaten JMU before, but he’s grown as a player and is playing the best ball of his career right now. Elon has at times struggled to run the ball but he’s been so strong, especially when he is given time, or slides to create his own time, that the Phoenix have overcome it. When teams have sent pressure and failed to get to him, he’s been hitting big plays. Additionally, Elon ran quite of bit of the quick horizontal/swing pass game stuff last week in their win over UNH. If that happens again, JMU’s defensive backs have got to make tackles and not allow extra yards.

On the other side of the ball, the obvious fix is “score TDs on red-zone trips.” Hope that happens. But we’d also like to see JMU not be so stubborn about smashing two-yard runs up the middle if Elon’s capable line holds them up a bit. If it isn’t there, move to the quick passing game and get the ball to Wells, Thornton, VanHorse, etc. in space and let them work. The Dukes seem to have an advantage outside and even with dicey weather this week, we’d like to see them use it before the second half if required.

Lastly, for both teams field position could be critical on a wet afternoon. Lots of JMU’s ability to overcome its own hiccups the last couple weeks can be attributed to controlling the field position game and that could be big again.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

Deschutes Black Butte Porter – A classic American Porter. Just a phenomenal beer. Perfect for a rainy fall afternoon. And probably best to enjoy it now with word that Deschutes fully abandons its formerly grand plans for a Roanoke outpost. It’s been so great having their reliably solid offerings available even in some of the Commonwealth’s most behind-the-beer-times areas the last few years and we an only hope that continues regardless of Deschutes lack of a physical presence in the state.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes find a way to take remove the restrictor plate! JMU 38, Elon 16

Oct 24 / Rob

Dukes Knock Off Delaware in Newark

JMU went on the road and defeated Delaware by the score of 22-10. It was a banner day for both the Dukes defense and Ethan Ratke. The senior kicker was perfect, making all 5 of his field goal attempts. The defense took advantage of yet another backup QB, limiting Delaware to only 109 total yards. If you’re scoring at home, that’s not a lot of yards. Despite the fantastic effort from the defense, the Dukes actually trailed at halftime and had to comeback to win. The offense was pedestrian at best, but did enough to get JMU over the hump. If anyone tries to tell you it was a beautiful game, they’re lying. But it was another win. And we shouldn’t overlook that. Anyway, here are some quick thoughts on the game.

read more…
Oct 22 / Todd

2021 JMUSB Game Preview #7: JMU @ Delaware

Need one more. JMU needs one more win against a sputtering old rival to get through the toughest stretch of the season at 4-1 and keep all their goals intact. With university-changing athletics news swirling around the Dukes and coming off a bounce-back win over Richmond after the loss to Nova, it’s so crucial that the team itself not overlook this game.

The Basics

Matchup: #7 JMU Dukes (5-1, 3-1 CAA) at #23 Delaware Blue Hens (3-3, 2-2 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:00 p.m. EST. Saturday October 23, 2021, The Tub, Newark, Delaware

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 62 degrees

Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia or you can Go with the Flo

How We Got Here

Delaware made the FCS semis last spring before falling to SDSU. But after losing QB1 Nolan Henderson earlier this season, they’ve cycled through QB’s and struggled to get any consistency on offense. They’ve lost their last two – both on the road – to URI and Stony Brook, but will back in Newark for Homecoming this week.

The Dukes beat Richmond last week with dominant defense against another backup QB and are at end of a mostly-road game stretch where they really need to get one more win before coming home for most of the stretch run.

How the Chickens Can Win

Take advantage of a potentially tired and distracted Dukes team and not waste a single opportunity. JMU is at the end of 4 road games in 5 stretch that has seemed on paper like the season’s toughest. The players and coaches have had plenty of extracurricular social media to binge on this week if they were so inclined. And the last two weeks, JMU has given chances to their opponents by not stepping on necks when the chance was there. For Delaware to win this week, they need to cash in those chances. If the Dukes turn it over, Delaware has to get points. If a penalty puts the Dukes behind the sticks, the Hens defense has to get off the field on 3rd down. And any redzone trips they get need to be six, not three. If they can get a Homecoming crowd that’s angry with their coach and indifferent about the program’s future behind them instead of tuning out, that would go a long way towards being in control late.

How the Dukes Can Win

Do Your Own Job. Delaware is a desperate team fighting for their season. Whatever the story with their coach’s status and their program’s future, this particular Hens squad made the semis in the spring and had high hopes for this year. They will be focused even if they’re outgunned. The Dukes need to match that focus during an otherwise wild week for JMU. While Alger, Bourne, donors, and fans all have their own obligations and other things to worry about this week, for the players and coaches themselves, the only job they can do that will contribute to JMU this week is winning this damned game. The defense should be able to tee off on another backup QB leading a sputtering offense, but the JMU offense and special teams need to clean up the penalties, turnovers, and general sloppiness that have led to a loss to Villanova and a “meh” outcome against a struggling Spiders team. Allow Sroba/Vanhorse/Thornton returns to stand without being called back. No more collapsing pockets without ball protection (sacks are not horrible compared to fumbles). Hit the most open receiver, not the obvious one. Catch the ball. Hit the first guy that crosses your face when pulling. Put simply, do the basics correctly. Just do your own job and this will be ok. For those three hours, their is nothing more a player or coach can do to boost JMU than win this game.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

New Anthem Beer Project Ba’al – With everyone in the world trying to make massively cloudy/juicy IPA’s and most of them ending up tasting like they still had soap in the lines, it was refreshing to have my guy at the local bottle-shop (shouts to HighSide in Fairfax City) recommend something new that actually delivered. This small brewery from Wilmington, NC hit a home run and you should find this simple gold can wherever you can.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Time for the Dukes to get back to the soul-crushers they looked like against Maine and Weber a month ago. JMU 38, UD 13

Oct 17 / Rob

Quick Thoughts on JMU Over RU

JMU moved to 4-1 on the season with a 19-3 win over the Richmond Spiders in the Dukes home away from home. The defense took advantage of a banged up Spider attack, terrorizing a series of backup quarterbacks all day. The Dukes totaled 6 sacks for the game and limited Richmond to only 188 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Dukes offense moved the ball, but only managed to punch it in for a single touchdowns. Ethan Ratke put last week’s uncharacteristic off-day behind him, nailing all 4 of his field goal attempts. It was JMU’s 6th straight win over Richmond. Here are a few quick thoughts on the victory.


Beating the Ticks is always great. Always. But this game was kind of a snoozer. It was evident right out of the gate that JMU was the superior team. Force to start its backup QB once again, Richmond’s offense struggled to get anything going. The Dukes defense was outstanding. But they were so dominant that it almost seemed like an unfair fight. The JMU offense on the other hand, put together several good drives, only to settle for field goals on 4 out of 4 trips to red zone. JMU was firmly in control for all 60 minutes and it was nice to bounce back with a win after the loss to Nova. We’re a spoiled, spoiled fanbase though because sometimes seeing the Dukes stomp the hated Spiders, wasn’t even enough to get us that excited. End to end victories are appreciated. Even if they sometimes can be a bit dull.

That Defense Though

Yes, Richmond’s top QB, Joe Mancuso was out. And backup Beau English also missed a few series after getting hurt himself. But backups or not, there was very little the Spiders’ offense could do against JMU. We were very critical of the defensive play against Villanova. Well, the Dukes D answered the bell and bounced back with one heck of an effort. They limited the Richmond passers to only 83 yards in the air on 8 of 18 passing. They were equally as effective against the run, holding the Spiders to only 2.6 yards a carry. To my eyes, it looked the best game the defense has played all season. Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey was all over the field making tackles, while Mike Greene did Mike Greene things, and the pass rush suffocated the Spiders. The secondary looked to be in sync and guys generally executed their assignments. It was a big step forward for the unit and a great response to last week’s unusually subpar performance.

Offense Needs a Spark

It sounds crazy to express concern about an offense that rushed for 100 yards and threw for nearly 300. But when all that leads to just a single touchdown, that’s what happens. There is an insane amount of talent on the JMU offense. But something is missing. It’s unfair to say that the players aren’t going all out, because they obviously are playing their hearts out. But there are stretches where as a unit, the offense looks unsure of itself.

Much of the struggles probably start with the relatively inexperienced offensive line. There’s room for improvement there for sure, but sometimes other guys simply need to step up and make a play under pressure. Thankfully, there are plenty of players capable of doing that. We’ve seen that when Cole Johnson gets in a rhythm and plays with confidence, JMU is very difficult to stop. The past few games that hasn’t happened however. There are plenty of hack comments we could make here as we go full on Monday morning quarterback or worse, armchair psychologist. Instead, we’ll take a glass half full approach. It’s not that this offense is consistently failing, it’s that it’s thiiiiiis close turning the corner and harnessing its full potential. Call us homers, but we think it will.

Oct 14 / Todd

2021 JMUSB Preview Game #6: JMU at Richmond

Ugh, what a bad taste last week left in the mouths of JMU fans. This week is shaping up to be a good old-fashioned JMU/RU blood feud. On one hand we’re more confident the Dukes will play well after what we hope is the ultimate wake-up call last week. On the other hand, while it pains us to say it, Richmond really shouldn’t be as bad as they looked last week either and it’s absolutely desperation time for any hopes of saving the season for the Spatters.

The Basics

Matchup: #7 JMU Dukes (4-1, 2-1 CAA) at Richmond Spiders (2-3, 0-2 CAA)

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST. Saturday October 16, 2021, Bridgeforth East, Richmond, Virginia

Weather: Showers, 81 degrees

Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington or you can Go with the Flo

How We Got Here

The Dukes stumbled in all three phases in their first loss of the year last week at home to Villanova. The Dukes do not play an FBS game this year and have one quality win at Weber St. The Spiders have lost three straight – two of which are excusable to Villanova and Virginia Tech – but last week’s home loss to Elon where they were held to seven points is a head-scratcher. Richmond opened the season with blowouts of bad Howard and Lehigh teams.

How the Spiders Can Win

They’ll have to ignore the massive home-field advantage the Dukes bring into this one. Then they need to score more than the 17 total points they’ve managed to find the last two weeks with backup QB Beau English at the controls. Three weeks ago, the ODAC’s best were flying high having won their first two and leading Villanova on the road 27-13 headed to the fourth quarter. Since then it’s been a trainwreck on fire off a mountain. First, Nova scored 21 unanswered to take that game. Then QB1 Joe Mancuso got hurt on the second play of the game at VT and then the Ticks were manhandled at home by Elon.

Richmond’s defense, particularly in the front seven, is veteran and touuughh. And they’ll need to follow Villanova’s gameplan to a tee. Try to hold the Dukes running game in check and count on the Dukes to do predictable things in “and long” situations. More than that though, unless there is some well of Boise-style trick plays up their sleeve, the defense will have to score or at the very least give the offense short fields if they’re going to keep up with JMU. Don’t take RU’s defense lightly, they were very much in the game in Blacksburg a couple weeks back, trailing just 14-10 in the second half before falling 21-10 with essentially zero offense.

How the Dukes Can Win

Quit f*cking around and do their damned jobs. That’s first and foremost. Offense, Defense, Specials. All shared in the blame for last week’s collapse and it’s on the players to execute at a higher level. On the coaching side, on offense JMU needs to be less predictable, especially in 2nd and 10 or 3rd and long situations. Not trick plays, just something other than run up the middle or chuck it to a 60% healthy Antoine Wells, Jr.

On defense, the Dukes need to get their best pass-rushing linemen in the game and do everything they can to bring pressure with just the front four. This will give them more guys to cover some weaknesses on the back-end, though admittedly we’ll be surprised if Richmond’s QB can do anything resembling the play of his Wildcats counterpart last week.

On special teams, flush last week and get back on track. We’ve seen it before and no reason to think we won’t again.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

It’s gonna be muggy and damp this weekend. You’ll want something lighter and refreshing that when a little is spilled on your raincoat as you take it on and off depending on that awful southern sweat-to-rain ratio won’t linger all afternoon like a wet fart. Basically, no stouts, porters, or hazy IPA’s – even those from Veil this weekend. What you need is a classic. And there’s hardly anything more classic than a Pilsner Urquell. The Czech standby is perfect for this occasion.

Official JMUSB Prediction

It’s Spatter Stomping time and the Dukes really need this one. JMU 30, Richmond 16