#16 James Madison FCS Football Preview

James Madison Dukes

Overall Rank: #16
#4 Colonial
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James Madison Team Page

2010 Record: (6-5, 3-5)
2010 Postseason: none
Coach: Mickey Matthews (82-51 at James Madison, 82-51 overall)

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dae’Quan Scott, WR, 207 yards
Passing: Dae’Quan Scott, WR, 34 yards
Receiving: Kerby Long, WR, 283 yards
Tackles: Pat Williams, LB, 101
Sacks: D.J. Bryant, DE, 2.5; Lamar Middleton, DE, 2.5
Interceptions: Taveion Cuffee, CB, 3

Back-to-back 6-5 seasons is not what James Madison has come to expect. This is a team that is used to competing for national championships. Beating teams like Virginia Tech will garner some national attention, but after that win, the Dukes were just an average CAA team. Coach Mickey Matthews is changing things up on offense and will call the plays himself. Executing those plays will still remain an issue.

It was the strong defense that won games for James Madison in 2010. With 2010 starters returning, the unit will be just as productive. Linebackers Pat Williams and Stephon Robertson are tackling machines.  The return of Jamie Veney from injury will make the unit even better. Robertson is a big hitter who can do just about everything. Speaking of big hitters, strong safety Vidal Nelson leads an experienced secondary that ranked first in the CAA in passing defense. With Mike Allen, Taveion Cuffee and Jakarie Jackson all returning, they should be able to shut down just about every passing attack they face. The defense is really good, but they could be great if the front four develops a better pass rush. D.J. Bryant is an underappreciated end and is the likely candidate to have a breakout year. Lamar Middleton will man the other end spot and he too has the potential to get into the backfield.

When your returning leading rusher and passer is a wide receiver, that is a problem. Dae’Quan Scott is a versatile player who actually did spend a little time under center, although he only threw two passes, but this is a team that needs to replace their quarterback and a running back or two. Quarterback Drew Dudzik was not a very efficient or effective quarterback and only his heroics against Virginia Tech will really be missed. The addition of Billy Cosh, a transfer from Kansas State, should help balance out of the offense by actually providing a passing game for the Dukes. However, he is still an unproven player and while he has talent, the expectations should be tempered for now. With Scott, Kerby Long and tight end Brian Barlow, Cosh will have some quality targets available. Replacing Jamal Sullivan may not be as simple. The running back pretty much made this offense move…when it was moving. He rushed for 716 yards and five touchdowns and his now departed backup Scott Noble added 380 yards and three scores.

The Bottom Line:
There is plenty of hope for the offense. It was way too easy for the opposing defense to stack the box and stop the run last year, but JMU had few other options. That should not be the case this year with Cosh under center. However, there are still questions to answer and it may take a little time for James Madison to go from an offense that averaged less than 18 points per game into one that can win some games. Fortunately, the defense will be strong enough to cover the time needed for Cosh to get comfortable at quarterback and for Coach Matthews to find a new running back.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.82 (36th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 119.64 (108, 10)
Total Offense: 293.45 (98, 9)
Scoring Offense: 17.73 (101, 8)
Rushing Defense: 126.45 (26, 4)
Pass Defense: 160.45 (12, 1)
Total Defense: 286.91 (8, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.73 (3, 2)
Turnover Margin: .18 (47, 5)
Sacks: 1.36 (85, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.45 (32, 4)

Madness 2011 FCS Football Recruit Ranking:
#21 Desmond Cable
#35 Ascene Jacques

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