Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin and Jack Fitzpatrick
We’re back with another edition of the weekly roundtable, and Jack and Bennett are more than ready to discuss the Dukes’ beatdown of Middle Tennessee and a likely upcoming beatdown of Norfolk State. The hype is real in Harrisonburg, after a stellar opening game for the Dukes.
Is JMU a legitimate threat to knock off top teams in the Sun Belt East this fall? It looked that way in Week 1.
JMU demolished Middle Tennessee. What was your biggest takeaway from the Week 1 win?
Jack: My biggest takeaway was that the defense is good. The defensive line looked the part of a Group of 5 D-Line and as long as that unit plays at a high level paired with the young linebackers continuing to develop and play well the secondary’s issues will get masked.
That first defensive possession left my mouth on the floor. I was flabbergasted at how dominant they were, and maybe we oversold the ability of the Middle Tennessee team, and specifically offense, but that type of historic destruction doesn’t just happen. JMU was the fourth-most dominant team last week and it all started with the offense. This team is good and will compete week in and week out and that was not what I thought 7 days ago.
Bennett: JMU looked the part of a quality FBS team, as the Dukes appeared extremely athletic on both sides of the ball. Throughout the offseason we heard about the challenges of making the jump to the FBS, but that general phrasing was a mistake from fans and experts.
The challenge is joining the Sun Belt East, not the FBS. JMU could enter C-USA and make a run at the title immediately, but the SBC East is among the best divisions in the Group of 5 … er, non-autonomous(?) level. JMU will face challenges the rest of the way, but the Dukes are clearly prepared to compete against FBS teams on a weekly basis.
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