JMU Football Three Notch’d Game Preview: Dukes Visit UVA

By Bennett Conlin

JMU and UVA meet on the gridiron Saturday for the first time since 1983. Regardless of who wins, it’ll be a special Saturday.

For the UVA community, Saturday is a chance to heal in the program’s first home game since a tragic shooting left three members of the team dead. Showing up and playing the game inside Scott Stadium will likely feel like a victory for UVA’s players.

For JMU, competing against UVA on the football field again is a step in the right direction as the program makes its FBS leap. A win goes a long way toward bolstering the team’s regional and national respect. Jordan McCloud will start at quarterback for the first time.

Saturday should be fun.

Saturday’s Weather

The weather looks slightly dicey leading into Saturday’s game. The high temperature for Saturday in Charlottesville is 84 degrees, but there’s about a 50% chance of thunderstorms during the afternoon hours.

Any thunderstorms during the game could lead to a lightning delay. Here’s hoping we avoid that.

Still, the forecast is a relief from earlier this week. High temperatures across Virginia were in the mid and upper 90s Monday-Thursday. Fans attending Saturday’s game will at least avoid record high temperatures, even if there’s a chance of rain.

How to Watch

The game will air on ESPNU, which can also be streamed on the ESPN app.

If you want to listen to the radio broadcast and are in Harrisonburg, tune in to WSVA 550 AM or 92.1 FM. You can stream the radio broadcast online at and on your phone with the The Varsity Network app.

Getting to know UVA

Record: 0-1, 0-0 ACC

UVA head coach: Tony Elliott, 3-8 as Virginia’s head coach. The second-year head coach came to UVA last season after spending the previous seven seasons as the offensive coordinator at Clemson.

Expected contributors: At quarterback, the Wahoos could be without starting quarterback Tony Muskett. He suffered an injury in the season opener, which might mean true freshman Anthony Colandrea is the starting quarterback. Either guy will play an important role Saturday.

The Cavaliers have an impressive group of running backs that includes Perris Jones, Mike Hollins, and Clemson transfer Kobe Pace. At wide receiver, Malachi Fields is a special talent. A former high school quarterback, Fields is 6’4 with speed. He’s a problem on the outside, and will likely draw the attention of JMU sophomore cornerback Chauncey Logan.

Defensively, the defensive line is Virginia’s strength. Ben Smiley and Chico Bennett are among the names to watch up front for the Cavaliers’ defense, although Bennett is a game-time decision with injury. Standout defensive back Antonio Clary is also a game-time decision.

“Both of those guys could be in the lineup, but it’s really gonna be how they progress throughout the rest of the week and then from a medical standpoint, is it the right time to put them back in the lineup,” Tony Elliott told the media Tuesday.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Three Notch’d Brewing for their advertising support this year.

What to expect 

An ugly, close game shouldn’t be out of the question.

UVA’s offensive line is weak, and JMU’s passing game looked rough in Week 1. Each offense has talented skill players, but there are major questions surrounding each team’s quarterback room.

The defenses on each side are stout, with the Cavaliers boasting a talented defensive line and a respectable secondary. JMU was among the Sun Belt’s best defenses in 2022, and the Dukes only allowed Bucknell to generate four second-half yards.

It wouldn’t be a shock if one (or both) of the teams fails to reach 20 points. If either side can generate consistent offense, they’ll have a chance to win by multiple scores.

I’d give JMU the edge, given the Dukes’ experience and ability in key positions like the offensive line. The Dukes hold a notable edge if Muskett can’t start at quarterback for UVA. Overall, I like JMU’s roster and coaching staff more than Virginia’s.

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