When: 9/25, 4:00pm
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
AP Rank: 6
Last Week: Maryland
Returning Starters: 16
AP Rank: n/a
Last Week: Villanova
Returning Starters: 18
Last Meeting: N/a
Common Opponents to Date: None
WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Jeff Berk (Knee) Questionable, Ben Lynch (Shoulder) Probable, Kay Jay Harris (Leg) Probable, Scott Gyorko (Leg) Probable.
James Madison - None reported
WVU 3-0, 0-0
JMU 2-0, 0-0
Sat: 9/25 4:00 pm
Series: First Meeting
Stats & Trends
NUMBERS DON'T LIE…NOT
In fairness to James Madison, the stats from last week's game, at least the offensive ones, should be thrown out. It's almost impossible to make any judgments from the numbers in a game played in a tropical storm, or depression, or whatever the heck the former Hurricane Ivan had degenerated to at that point.
The game featured 213 yards of total offense combined. There were 13 fumbles, nine of which changed hands. Throw in minus two yards rushing for Villanova, 17 punts and 15 penalties, and you have something that was probably a lot of fun to play in, but not much resembling football.
In truth, the Dukes have a solid defense that isn't just going to lie down for the Mountaineers. And Justin Rascati is a pretty good quarterback. I just hope that those showing up for the game don't get ugly when it's not 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
BUT THESE DON'T
Despite being in just its 31st season of varsity football, the Dukes have put up some good accomplishments on the field. JMU is a respectable 24-34 all time against opponents ranked in the Top 25 of Division 1AA.
And before you start hollering "That's not even .500," consider that teams are in the Top 25 for a reason. It's because they are good. And 24 wins against that competition, for a program just entering its fourth decade, its pretty good.
FLUKE OR FABULOUS?
Granted, a couple of those were due to great efforts by receivers, but it also attests to the fact that Rasheed is throwing the ball where it needs to go in order to give the Mountaineers a chance to move the sticks. I'm not going to get into another big debate over the merits of Marshall as a QB. Chuck McGill, in the Daily Athenaeum earlier this week, did a great job of making the case for Rasheed (one that I agree with, by the way). I'll only say that by the time his career is over, Rasheed will be one of the ten best QBs to ever don the Gold and Blue. First in the Big East in passing efficiency, and ninth in the nation, ought to be enough evidence.
GOING TO THE DOGS
Duke's mascot (cleverly known as Duke Dog), is among 12 finalists for the Capital One College Mascot of the Year Award. Considering the number of credit card applications I receive in the mail from CapOne (the average is about two per day), I'd say they don't need any more name exposure, especially from such a lame promotion as this. An open fan vote, conducted over two and one half months later this fall, will determine the winner. Two and a half months? Geez, we elect a president in just one day of voting.
I'm not done. Considering some of the polyurethaned pets that Duke Dog will be squaring off against (including Testudo the Terrapin and the Hokie Bird), the JMU mascot might just have a chance. Unless winter sets in early in Minnesota and everyone there stuffs the ballot box for their favorite Golden Gopher.
BACK TO THE GAME
JMU safety Rodney McCarter has blocked five kicks in his career. The Mountaineers must account for him on both field goal and extra point tries.
Have I mentioned, by the way, that I'm not crazy about WVU's punt protection scheme? I know the coaches know what they are doing, but the current formation, which includes three personal protectors stationed behind the line of scrimmage, makes me nervous. With fewer players on the line of scrimmage, more would-be punt blockers can get closer to the punter. I understand the thinking behind the alignment – it just makes me nervous. Also, it would seem that having three players, instead of just one, positioned several steps off the line would make punt coverage more difficult.
HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT
While "hidden yardage" in the kick return game has become exposed to the light of day in recent seasons, there's another category that isn't examined quite as closely – penalty yardage.
Sure, everyone covering the Mountaineers has pointed out that "penalties must stop", but that's a bit superficial. So, to dig deeper, WVU has been assessed 317 yards in penalties this year. That's almost 106 yards per game. Opponents, on the other hand, have just 150 yards against them through three games. That's 56 yard per game, or 5 ½ first downs, that West Virginia is throwing away.
To put it another way, WVU, which has outgained its opponents by more than 50 yards per game in punt returns, is giving it all back. And mostly because of boneheaded plays. Where's Susan Powter when we need her? Stop the madness! (Wait a second. I just found her online. Yikes. Forget I said anything.
The DEVIL IN ME POINTS OUT…
What do you want to bet that if Boston College loses to Wake Forest on Saturday, that at some point next season a BC media release trumpets the fact that the ACC won that game as part of this year's Big East – ACC showdown?