Takeaways from JMU Football’s Dominant Win Over UConn

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communciations

By Bennett Conlin

JMU football is 10-0 and ranked 18th in the latest AP Top 25. How’s that for a transition year?

While the Dukes don’t have guaranteed bowl eligibility, they do have a damn good football team. JMU demolished UConn 44-6 to improve to 10-0 on Saturday, giving the home fans plenty to cheer for on a beautiful fall Saturday. 

Here are three key takeaways from the win.

Dukes do their job

The best college football teams beat supposed they’re supposed to beat. A 9-0 JMU should absolutely beat a 1-8 UConn team. The Dukes didn’t just win, however, they completely controlled the game from start to finish. 

JMU outscored UConn in each of the four quarters, using a 31-3 second half to turn a reasonably close game into a blowout. Of JMU’s nine drives, seven ended in points. The Dukes wore UConn down through the air, consistently testing a mediocre secondary and throwing for 457 yards. 

While beating UConn with ease might not seem like a noteworthy accomplishment, it is. UConn has four one-possession losses and another 10-point loss to N.C. State. The only teams to beat UConn by 30+ points are Duke, Tennessee, and now JMU. 

Great teams dominate teams they’re supposed to dominate. JMU did that Saturday, avoiding a possible letdown game before major conference clashes with App State and Coastal Carolina. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support this season.

Pass rush concerns?

In JMU’s first game without star defensive lineman Jalen Green, the Dukes tallied seven tackles for loss and one sack. The one sack is a season-low total. 

Time to panic? Not so fast. 

UConn has only allowed 11 sacks all season. The Huskies allow just 1.1 sacks per game, tied for the 12th-best mark in the country. JMU’s defense held UConn to six total points and 319 total yards. The Dukes also created a defensive touchdown late in the contest when Brent Austin took an interception back for a score. 

Interestingly, however, JMU’s final two opponents excel at protecting the quarterback. App State allows just 1.3 sacks per game (19th best nationally) and Coastal Carolina allows just 1.5 sacks per game (34th nationally). 

Will JMU’s pass rush, arguably the strength of the defense, come through in the final two weeks without Green?

I’m not concerned by Saturday’s pass rush, but I am monitoring how the group will fare against solid pass protecting lines in key conference matchups to end the year. It won’t be easy without a player like Green.

Dream season

JMU is 10-0 in its second FBS season, and ESPN’s College GameDay is coming to town next weekend for the Dukes’ rivalry clash with App State. Wow. 

It’s a dream season for JMU, which is a perfect 5-0 in one-possession games. The Dukes have a win over UVA, which finally played JMU this season for the first time in 40 years. They also have a narrow rivalry victory over Old Dominion. 

JMU beat Troy, the 2022 Sun Belt Champion, on the road in a gritty defensive battle. The Dukes took down Marshall for the first time in program history on national TV. 

Due in part to the NCAA not granting JMU a waiver to play in a bowl game, the Dukes have also received national attention for almost the entire season. This weekend, they’ll host College GameDay for the third time. 

JMU fans should appreciate this unbelievable season. The Dukes are having a special year.

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