Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
Happy Thanksgiving all!
I hope you’re ready to watch some JMU football after the holiday, as the Dukes face No. 23 Coastal Carolina in their season finale. The game kicks off Saturday at noon and will air on ESPNU. It’s an intriguing game between two of the Sun Belt’s best. JMU is an impressive 7-3, and the Chanticleers have an even better record at 9-1.
I discuss the matchup and last week’s comeback win over Georgia State in an abbreviated roundtable/Q&A format.
Share one hot take from the Georgia State win. The spicier the better.
Home crowd size doesn’t matter.
Not sure this is the spiciest take out there (my apologies), but there have been plenty of lively discussions about attendance at JMU games this season. Saturday’s attendance was listed at 20,055 – certainly no sellout – but those in attendance were energetic and loud, especially in the second half. I think we should spend less time worrying about total numbers (it’s still a worthwhile data point) and pay more attention to the energy brought by the crowd at home games. Saturday’s game was so much fun, and I’m glad I was there.
On a related note, the game-day experience at Bridgeforth needs to improve. The concessions setup makes for giant lines, and I’d love to see a few tweaks to music choices, hype videos, etc. That being said, the video board showed a few quick pre-recorded clips of players saying “get loud!” and it actually worked to make people louder. I’m fascinated to see how the game-day experience changes in future years.
Which achievement is most impressive: JMU’s comebacks against App State and Georgia State or the Dukes breaking into the AP Top 25?
I’m going to go with the comebacks. Obviously these two things are related, as the comeback vs. App State set the stage for being ranked, but the two comebacks are insanely impressive. Breaking into the AP Top 25 is massive for the program and recognition, but it says a lot about JMU’s team that it has the firepower to overcome 20-point deficits against divisional opponents. The Dukes, when at their best, can beat anyone in the Group of Five.
What does JMU need to do to defeat Coastal Carolina?
Get after the quarterback. The Dukes did so well to pressure Georgia State’s Darren Grainger when the Panthers were in obvious passing situations Saturday. With Grayson McCall out, there’s an opportunity for the Dukes to take advantage of inexperience at quarterback. If the Dukes disrupt the pocket on passing downs, they’ll stand a good chance of throwing off Coastal’s offense.
What would a win over Coastal mean to the Dukes’ program?
I think it would be massive. The Dukes would finish first in the Sun Belt East, and they’d beat a Coastal team that has been the best in the Sun Belt in recent seasons. Beating a ranked Coastal Carolina at home in the final game would be a phenomenal way to wrap up Year 1 in the FBS. Saturday presents a major opportunity to end the year on a high note. Beating App State, ODU, and Coastal in the same season would be noteworthy.
Score prediction time!
JMU wins 38-14. I love the way the Dukes finished last week, and I think they end the season by blowing out Coastal Carolina if they avoid self-inflicted errors.