Tuesday, March 22, 2011

James Madison Dukes 2010 Review

2010 Record: 6-5 (3-5), Tied 8th Colonial
2010 Postseason: None
2010 Schedule/Results: Morehead State, W 48-7, @ Virginia Tech, W 21-16, Liberty, W 10-3, Delaware, L 13-10, @ Towson, W 17-13, New Hampshire, L 28-14, @ Villanova, L 14-7, UMass, L 21-14, @ Richmond, L 13-10, William & Mary, W 30-24, @ Maine, W 14-10


     How does a team start 3-0 with a win over FBS power Virginia Tech, followed by another win over a very good Liberty squad miss the playoffs? It beats the holy crap out of me. I can't figure out other than to say that it was likely that the Dukes were playing way over their heads in September only to have gravity raise it's ugly head in October to bring them crashing back down to Earth. That's essentially what happened. JMU followed that otherworldly start by going on to drop 5 of their next 6 games to find themselves sitting at home in December. It befuddles the mind, but as they say, it is what it is.
     Drew Dudzik, the hero of the win over the Hokies, wound up not having such a great season. He finished 7th in the CAA in qulaifying QB pass efficiency numbers, and wound up tossing 9 picks to just 5 TD passes. That's right...just 5 TDs in a full season. Not good at all. By the way, he was a senior. He was used as a dual threat QB, as he rushed 100 times, but he only rushed for 229 yards on the season.
     The runnung game also left something to be desired on the season. Jamal Sullivan was the leader as he put up 169-685-5, with an average of 4.1 YPC, and only 68.5 yards per game. If your QB is only throwing 5 TD passes, your hope would be that you would have a RB that could at least double that total, but such was not the case. Scott Noble was the next best back, but only rushed for 40.9 yards per game.
     Not one single receiver for JMU caught 20 passes in 2010, which is a horrible number to contemplate, and only one receiver (Kerby Long) had as many as 2 TD receptions on the season. In all, the Dukes had one of the worst passing averages in the FCS by only passing for 119 yards per game.
     The only saving grace for JMU in 2010, is that the defense was solid through the offensive struggles. While the offense was stumbling to scoring 21 points or less 9 times, the defense held teams at bay by holding the opposition to the same totals, 21 points or less 9 times, giving the inept offense a chance to stay in almost every game.
     Leading the way on defense was the dynamic duo of Pat Williams and Stephon Robertson. Williams led the team with 101 tackles, while Robertson racked up 90. Both are LBs and both return in 2011 to lead the way once again.
     Williams also led the way in TFLs, as he piled up 15 in 2010, with Robertson following closely with 13. They were joined as front 7 forces by junior DL DJ Bryant, who had 11 on the season. The front 7 held the opposition to just 126 yards on the ground in 2010. One area that needs improvement is the pass rush, as JMU was highly devoid in this area in 2010.
     Despite the inability to get to the QB, JMU still held the opposition to only 160 yards per game, which is a very solid number. The combo of Jon Williams, Leavander Jones,  and Vidal Nelson were on the attack, as Williams led the CAA with .82 passes defended per game, good for a total of 9 on the season. Jones broke up 8 more passes, and Nelson added 5 of his own. Taveion Cuffee led the team with 3 picks, while Robertson forced 3 fumbles. To mark the stark contrast, JMU finished first in the CAA in pass defense, while finishing dead last in pass offense.
      Ben Hopewell didn't get many opportunities to attempt FGs, but he did manage do hit 3 of 5. Not great when you consider the 60% success rate, but it's hard to judge on so little work. David Skahn, a sophomore, came in just under average as he only averaged 39.23 yards per punt. It was still enough to rank 4th in the CAA, but it's nothing special.


It's a real shame that the Dukes started out so strongly with the magical road win over the powerful Virginia Tech Hokies. The Dukes seemed like a lock in September to be at or near the top of the CAA standings, but the lack of offense took a toll, and the wheels fell off in October, killing the season for Mickey Matthews and company. A 6-5 season has to surely be a huge disappointment for James Madison, as they should have been able to do so much more. Next season still has a ton of questions on the offensive side, but with a solid corps of returnees on defense, the unit will likely be able to keep the Dukes close again.

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