Saturday, September 15, 2012

JMU Heads To FedEx Field To Take On FBS #8 West Virginia

HARRISONBURG-A Different Kind of Road Trip: The James Madison football squad will go on the road for the first time this year but not into an opposing team's stadium. The Dukes will head to Landover, Md., to FedEx Field, the home of the NFL's Washington Redskins, to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, '76) is in his 14th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with an 97-61 record.

West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgorsen (Iowa Wesleyan, '93) is in his second year as head coach of the Mountaineers and overall, sporting an 11-3 record.

History With West Virginia: The two teams will meet for the second time today, with WVU having taken the first-ever meeting during the 2004 season. That game was played in Morgantown, with the Mountaineers getting a 45-10 win.

National Rankings: JMU has come into the 2012 season with high expectations both from the coaches and the media, according to their respective polls. The Dukes are ranked eighth in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll, while being in the No. 5 slot in The Sports Network Preseason Poll, which is voted on by sports information, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries. Following the second week of play, Madison is now No. 5 in the FCS Coaches' Poll, while advancing the No. 4 slot in the The Sports Network Poll.

The Dukes have earned significant recognition in several national preseason publications, with four of the five putting JMU in the top five. Phil Steele's Annual picks JMU second in their preseason rankings, while USA Today has Madison fourth. Athlon College Football and College Sporting News both have James Madison in the fifth spot, while Lindy's College Football picked the squad 13th nationally.

Matthews Closing In On the Century Mark: JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews is closing in on a historic milestone in his coaching career. In his 14th season at the helm of the Dukes, Matthews is just two wins away from having 100 victories in his coaching career. He is currently tied for 24th on the FCS career active victories list, tied with New Hampshire's Sean McDonnell.

James Madison Football On TV: James Madison is no stranger to being televised and it holds true this year, as the Dukes are on the tube six times, with a pair of nationally-televised contests as part of the CAA's package. JMU will first be on television on Sept. 15 from FedEx Field as the West Virginia Game will be televised on Root Sports Pittsburgh. Following that, Madison will make its first of two appearances on NBC Sports Network when it hosts defending CAA champion Towson on Oct. 6, followed by a Comcast Sports Network broadcast of the William & Mary game on Oct. 13. The Oct. 20 game at Richmond and Nov. 3 at Maine will be on Comcast as well, before the regular-season finale against Old Dominion Nov. 17 is on NBC Sports Network.

Calling FedEx For the Dukes: James Madison will find its way to the nation's capital on Sept. 15, as the Dukes will take on No. 8 West Virginia at FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins. This will be the second time that JMU has played in one of the NFL's top facilities, as the Dukes played in Raymond James Stadium when they took on South Florida in 2000.

Precursor to Something Greater This Year?: All college football fans want to look for something that gives them an indication of possible success for their teams. Interestingly for Dukes' fans, that may be the opening week's win over Saint Francis and playing West Virginia as their precursors for this year. Last year, the Red Flash traveled for their second game of the season to a nationally-ranked opponent -- North Dakota State -- and dropped a 56-3 decision to the Bison, who went on to last year's FCS National Championship. The 2004 season was the only time that JMU has taken on West Virginia, as the Dukes won the next six games and eventually went on to a 13-2 record and the I-AA National Championship. So the JMU Nation hopes the same end result occurs for their squad this season.

Last Time Out - JMU Coasts To Its Second Straight Win: The James Madison football team, led by redshirt junior running back Dae'Quan Scott and redshirt-senior quarterback Justin Thorpe, turned in a dominant first-half performance as the Dukes grabbed a commanding 28-0 lead over visiting Alcorn State going into halftime before coasting to a 42-3 win. JMU started the season 2-0 for just the second time since 2005 and scored at least 40 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2008.

On the ground James Madison's running attack lead by Scott and Thorpe totaled 226 yards. They became the first JMU teammates to tally over 100 yards rushing for the first time since 2010 against William and Mary. They each reached the mark in the first half.

Fueled by Scott and Thorpe, the Dukes offense racked up 295 yards of total offense in the first half while the defense limited the Braves to 104 yards at the break. JMU had 207 rushing yards at the half, all from Scott and Thorpe. The Dukes finished with 416 total yards compared to 250 for the Braves. (Full recap on page 19).

Ranking High In the Opening Weekends of Play: JMU finds itself among the leaders in the nation in various statistical categories in the opening week of the play. Offensively, the Dukes' average of 511.5 yards ranks eighth among FCS teams, the 304.0 rushing yards ranks seventh and the 48.50 points per game is the sixth most nationally in the opening games. Defensively, the 207.50 yards per game given up ranks eighth nationally, while 102.00 passing yards per game ranks ninth. Additionally, Madison's average of 44.00 net punting yards is fourth.

Scott Named CAA Offensive Player of the Week: James Madison running back Dae'Quan Scott has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week, the league announced. This was the third time in his career he has garnered the league's weekly offensive honor, having picked it up twice last year, and the fourth time he has earned a league weekly award overall.

Scott played just 27 minutes in a 42-3 win over Alcorn State, but it was enough time to account for 108 rushing yards, his ninth career 100-yard game, and two touchdowns on just eight carries for the Dukes. The junior also hauled in five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. He opened the scoring for JMU with a 1-yard run and then followed up with a season-long 67-yard scamper to put the Dukes up 14-0 in the first quarter. He then added a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Justin Thorpe late in the first half that gave Madison a 28-0 halftime lead.

In playing in just five quarters of the first two games due to the significant lead for JMU in each, Scott still has a team-high 180 yards on 20 carries (9.0 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.He has also has a JMU high eight receptions for 90 yards (11.2 yards per catch) and a pair of scores.

Going Aerial Was Solid For the Dukes In the First Two: In JMU's first two games, the aerial attack has had some quality succecss. Against Saint Francis in the season opener, Madison's quarterbacks combined to go 21-for-34 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Redshirt-senior Justin Thorpe was 15-for-27 for 177 yards and one touchdown, while true freshman Michael Birdsong was 6-for-7 for 48 yards and one touchdown, connecting with redshirt-sophomore Daniel Brown for an 8-yard score. Even more impressive was that 10 Dukes had at least one reception in the game.

In the Alcorn State game, the quarterbacks were 17-for-23 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. Thorpe was 14-for-18 for 140 yards, two scores and one interception, while Birdsong was 3-for-5 for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Thorpe Successful Under Center Leading the Dukes: Redshirt-senior quarterback Justin Thorpe has been a very solid starter for Madison when he has been in the game. Overall, he has a 13-5 record as a starting quarterback as well as being 13-4 against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents. Even more impressive is that Thorpe has led JMU to wins in his last 11 regular season FCS starts and 12 of his last 13 FCS games overall.

Starke Is Solid With the Foot But Splits The Uprights Even Better at Home: Redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke has shown his ability to hit clutch kicks for the Dukes, having connected on two final-play, game-winning field goals last year. Overall in his career, he is now 17-for-21 (.810) on field goals and 45-for-46 (.978) on extra points. However at Bridgeforth Stadium, he has hit all five of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 47-yarder against Saint Francis last weekend, and is 31-for-32 (.969) on PATs, with his only missed kick ever in Bridgeforth against Villanova last year.

Robertson Getting In On the Play: Redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson has shown a nose for the football throughout his collegiate career. A Sports Network Third Team Preseason All-American and Preseason All-CAA at linebacker in 2012, Robertson has already led the Dukes in tackles in the first two games, compiling 17 tackles while playing just six quarters of action.

For his career, Robertson has started all 25 games he has played and has posted 220 career tackles and One of the most memorable plays in his career was a key forced fumble late in the win at Virginia Tech in 2010, a game in which he also had a season-high 13 tackles.

Matthews The Winningest: Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) became the all-time leader in victories among JMU football coaches Sept. 27, 2008 in a 24-10 victory at Maine. The win gave the then-10th-year Dukes coach a 68-45 JMU record, which is now at 98-61 overall, which currently ranks 22nd among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and tied for 24th in victories.

Challace McMillin (1972-84), JMU's first football coach, had a 67-56-1 record during 13 JMU seasons and held the program's previous coaching victories record. McMillin has retired as a JMU kinesiology teaching staff member, but he continues to work with JMU athletic teams in a sports psychology role.


Coach (Years) W-L Pct. NCAA

Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) 98-61 .616 6
Challace McMillin (1972-84) 67-56-1 .544 0
Joe Purzycki (1985-90) 34-30-2 .530 1
Rip Scherer (1991-94) 29-19 .604 2
Alex Wood (1995-98) 23-22 .511 1

* Challace McMillin's listed coaching record at JMU does not include the program's inaugural football season of 1972 when the team's schedule did not include the minimum number of games to constitute an NCAA-recognized varsity football season. JMU's 1972 team played five games against a mixture of college varsity and junior varsity and prep-school teams.

Oh Captain, My Captains: James Madison's Justin Thorpe, Brian Barlow, Earl Watford, Jakarie Jackson, Stephon Robertson and Tyler Snow have been selected by their teammates as captains for the 2012 football season. Thorpe and Barlow are captains for the second straight season, while this is the first time for the remaining four.

Taking on FBS Teams Not Kind to JMU: Against NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams that still compete in the division, JMU has a 4-16 record. The Dukes last played an FBS opponent in the 2011 season opener, losing at North Carolina, 42-10.

JMU Last

Opponent Record Met
Ball State 0-1 1997
Duke 0-1 2008
Maryland 0-2 2009
Navy 2-1 1990
North Carolina 0-2 2011
Virginia 1-2 1983
Virginia Tech 1-6 2010
West Virginia 0-1 2004

Of JMU's 20 games against FBS teams, 10 of the contests have been season-openers. JMU started the 1988 season at Navy, the 1991, 1992 and 1999 seasons at Virginia Tech, the 1997 season at Ball State, the 1998 season at Maryland, the 2007 season at North Carolina, the 2008 season at Duke, 2009 at Maryland and this year's at North Carolina.

JMU'S FBS Games: JMU's games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams include the following:

1979 Virginia 69, JMU 9 10/13 at UVA
1980 Virginia Tech 38, JMU 6 9/27 at VT
1982 JMU 21, Virginia 17 9/18 at UVA
1983 Virginia 21, JMU 14 9/17 at UVA
1988 Navy 27, JMU 14 9/3 at Navy
1988 Virginia Tech 27, JMU 6 11/19 at VT
1989 JMU 24, Navy 20 10/28 at Navy
1990 JMU 16, Navy 7 10/27 at Navy
1991 Virginia Tech 41, JMU 12 8/31 at VT
1992 Virginia Tech 49, JMU 20 9/5 at VT
1997 Ball State 24, JMU 6 9/6 at BSU
1998 Maryland 23, JMU 15 9/5 at UM
1999 Virginia Tech 47, JMU 0 9/4 at VT
2003 Virginia Tech 43, JMU 0 9/6 at VT
2004 West Virginia 45, JMU 10 9/25 at WVU
2007 North Carolina 37, JMU 14 9/1 at UNC
2008 Duke 31, JMU 7 8/30 at Duke
2009 Maryland 38, JMU 35 (ot) 9/12 at UM
2010 JMU 21, Virginia Tech 16 9/11 at VT
2011 North Carolina 42, JMU 10 9/3 at UNC

Dukes in the Show: JMU is well represented in the NFL on the 2011 rosters entering the season. The Dukes have two former players that are on opening rosters for the 2011 season. Linebacker Akeem Jordan has spent his first five years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and is slated to start this season at weakside linebacker. Starting his third season in the NFL is former defensive end turned linebacker Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills), who is currently the starter at outside linebacker. Former tight end Mike Caussin (Buffalo Bills) is on the physically unable to perform list currently after being signed last year off Jacksonville's practice squad.

Preseason All-America Honors: James Madison's Earl Watford, Stephon Robertson and Dae'Quan Scott were named Preseason All-Americans by The Sports Network, the organization announced. Watford was a first-team selection at offensive guard, while Robertson and Scott were on the third team at linebacker and all-purpose, respectively.

Additionally, JMU had five players named to their respective position watch lists by College Football Performance Awards, the organization announced. Scott was named to the running back list, with redshirt-senior Brian Barlow named to the 25-person tight end watch list. Robertson was named to the linebackers' watch list while redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke and redshirt-senior punter David Skahn earned spots on their respective lists.

Preseason Conference Poll: In the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Poll as voted on by the league's coaches, Madison was picked to finish third in the league. Towson was selected as the preseason favorite, followed by Old Dominion and the Dukes.

New Hampshire picked up two first-place votes and was fourth in the poll, followed by Delaware, Maine, William & Mary and Villanova in the top eight. Richmond was ninth with Rhode Island and Georgia State rounding out the league's teams.

Preseason All-CAA Awards: Redshirt-senior offensive lineman Earl Watford, redshirt-senior h-back/tight end Brian Barlow, redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson and redshirt-junior return specialist/running back Dae'Quan Scott were selected to the CAA's 25-man preseason squad.

Bringing Back A Solid Core of Returners: The Dukes return 46 letterwinners, including 16 starters, back to the 2012 squad. Madison has six returners on offense, led by quarterback Justin Thorpe, running back Dae'Quan Scott and lineman Earl Watford, while the defense has seven returners, paced by linebacker Stephon Robertson, lineman Tyler Snow and safety Jakarie Jackson. Madison also returns all three key specialists in kicker Cameron Starke, punter David Skahn and snapper Chris Beaver.

Where Are They Now - Les Branich: The only quarterback with the distinction of taking the Dukes to an undefeated season is Les Branich, who was the quarterback of the 1975 team that went 9-0-1 and won the VCAA Championship. Branich has spent over 28 years in the information technology industry as a sales representative, the majority with Hewlett Packard in Richmond, Va., retiring from HP in 2005. A 1995 inductee into the JMU Athletic Hall of Fame, Branich is currently employed with Henrico County Public Schools as a Safety and Security Officer at Mills E. Godwin High School.

Controlling the Football A Key Factor For the Dukes: In JMU's 12 FCS games last season, the Dukes had a time of possession advantage in nine of them, going 8-1 in the those contests. The average difference in those nine games was 7:18, with the most a 21:00 difference in the NCAA Playoff road win at Eastern Kentucky Nov. 26. The only one that Madison did not win was the 23-20 loss at Old Dominion Oct. 29. The two games that Madison did not hold the advantage were the Maine game (a 25-24 overtime loss) and the New Hampshire road contest (a 28-10 loss).

In this year's season opener, the Dukes held the ball more than 11 minutes than Saint Francis in the 55-7 victory.

JMU Football History: The 2012 season is JMU's 41st season of football, its 39th varsity football season, its 34th season with football scholarship players and its 33rd season competing at what is now the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, formerly Division I-AA.

JMU began football in 1972, moved to a recognized varsity schedule in 1974, first awarded scholarships for the 1979 season and moved to Division I-AA in 1980. JMU moved from Division III to Division II in 1979 and to then-Division I-AA for the 1980 season.

JMU's top seasons in addition to winning the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA championship (13-2) have been in 2008 when the Dukes reached the FCS semifinals as the playoffs' top-seeded team and compiled a 12-2 record, 2007 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 2006 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1999 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1995 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1994 (10-3, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1991 (9-4, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1987 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1982 (8-3), 1978 (8-2, No. 9, Division III), and 1975 (9-0-1, College Division).

Football Heads To FedEx Field To Take On FBS #8 West Virginia

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