The Dukes are still rolling. James Madison football has looked just about unstoppable so far, extending their winning streak to an unprecedented 20 games. Will that roll continue this weekend against Rhode Island? Read on to find out.
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I love the improvement this year with the Rhody nation, because they are definitely taking it up a notch over 2016. It's great to see what they've done.
Hey, these guys took an FBS opponent (Central Michigan) to overtime and ticked off the Chippewas. Then RI beat Harvard. The Crimson are still reeling from that. Elon nipped R.I. by 1 point two weeks ago and Elon looks like a serious playoff team, if not a seed. And R.I. drilled Albany. This wouldn't have happened a year ago.
But unfortunately Rhondy is running into a defensive buzzsaw and this one is going to be tough. JMU doesn't give up points. Predicting a blowout, but not as bad as last year.
With Richmond and Elon left on the schedule following this week's bout with the Rams, Saturday's game has the makings of a trap game. Luckily for the Dukes, the team hasn't overlooked an opponent under head coach Mike Houston. Expect the Dukes to earn an easy win.
This week the Dukes travel up the east coast to take on CAA rival, Rhode Island. The Rams are coming off just their second win of the year over Albany and are looking to knock off the number one team in the country, JMU.
Rhode Island does has a strong passing attack, and QB JuJuan Lawson has played at a very high level since breaking into the lineup, but I don't believe this match up will be close. Despite having explosive playmaking abilities in their offense, URI has not faced a defense anywhere near the talent of JMU. And while the Rams can hold their own offensively, they struggle stopping the run, which plays right in to the hands of the Dukes. I'm taking JMU in this one.
JMU shut out of one the CAA's most consistently productive offense's last week, and Madison made it look kind of easy, too. I expect that trend to continue this week in Kingston against a Rhode Island team that's better than it was last year, but still not in the same planetary system as the Dukes.
Rhode Island isn't a threat, and the coaching staff knows it. That means there's not much cause to throttle up out of the Vanilla Offense we've all been served these last couple of weeks. Don't expect a repeat of last year's 84-point performance.
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The JMU defense has been awesome this year. I know, I’m not breaking any news there. It is incredible what JMU is doing on the defensive side of the ball and I don’t expect that to change this weekend against the Rams. The special teams have also been really good, which has been a staple under Coach Houston in his first two seasons that I am very much enjoying.
By the raw numbers, the offense has also been good, so I’m not here to sound any alarm bells or even to criticize that side of the ball. What I am looking for is for them to put up a dominating performance that is on par with what they were doing last season. This is a little unfair due to attrition from last year’s offense with graduation and injuries to this year’s squad.
I’d like to see the offensive line gel a bit more and open those creases a little bit wider and a little bit more frequently, allowing Trai Sharp, Marcus Marshall, and Taylor Woods to rip of some bigger runs with the regularity that Khalid Abdullah was doing it last season. Again, this is nitpicky, unfair, and way too demanding of a team that has ripped off 20 consecutive wins.
On the plus side, I think that is exactly what we are going to get this weekend. JMU is going to go into Rhode Island and show that the offense is not to be overlooked, even if the defense is having such a phenomenal year.