#26 James Madison FCS Football 2013 Preview

James Madison Dukes

Overall Rank: #26
#6 CAA

James Madison Team Page#26 James Madison FCS Football 2013 PreviewBuy James Madison Football Tickets

James Madison is one of the more solid programs in the FCS, competitive year after year, a past champion and always a threat for the postseason again. However, 2013 seems early on to be one of the tougher seasons in recent years. Last month at CAA Media Days, JMU was predicted to finish fifth in the conference. With a former coach of the year in Mickey Matthews on the sidelines and seven home games, there’s no counting the Dukes out of the postseason, but the extra four spots this season may become very critical.

2012 record: 7-4, 5-3
2012 postseason: None
Coach: Mickey Matthews (96-61 at James Madison, 96-61 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike O’Cain
Defensive Coordinator: Kyle Gillenwater

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dae’quan Scott, RB, 781 yards
Passing: Michael Birdsong, QB, 478 yards
Receiving: DeAndre’ Smith, WR, 323 yards
Tackles: Stephon Robertson, LB, 101
Sacks: Sage Harold, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Dean Marlowe, FS, 3

Other Key Returnees: K Cameron Starke, DT Jordan Stanton, LB Tyler Snow

Key Losses: QB Justin Thorpe, WR Brian Barlow, CB Ryan Smith

Coach Matthews knows how to win, proven by his successes from the 2004 national title to the upset of Virginia Tech a few years ago. But 2013 looks to be one of the tougher seasons in a while, at least going into it, as the Dukes lost a strong core of key leaders on both sides of the ball. Replacing a quarterback is never easy as the Dukes have to do with Justin Thorpe, but they may be a step ahead as Michael Birdsong was thrown into action a few times last year and proved he could hold his own in the CAA. What may help JMU as much as anything this season is having seven of their 12 games at home at Bridgeforth Stadium in front of one of the most passionate fan bases in the FCS.   

The Dukes lost a lot of talent from a good 2012 team that just missed the playoffs. The key will be how quick Birdsong and the offense can get synced and if they will be able to put up the points it takes to compete in what is becoming a high scoring league. The Dukes only have four road games in the CAA, but they are all tough environments at Delaware, William & Mary, New Hampshire and Towson.  

The Bottom Line:
James Madison will have a tough time reaching the postseason this season, or so it would appear. However, there is always some level of uncertainty when looking at things in the preseason. To add to being a somewhat down team this year, James Madison still carries the “JMU” banner that is one of the premier names in the FCS and for that the Dukes will be circled on everyone’s calendar making those games just that much tougher.

Projected Postseason: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 209.00 (19th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 182.45 (80, 8)
Total Offense: 391.45 (48, 6)
Scoring Offense: 28.82 (44, 6)
Rushing Defense: 122.55 (19, 1)
Pass Defense: 200.73 (42, 5)
Total Defense: 323.27 (23, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.00 (23, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.27 (77, 8)
Sacks: 1.73 (78, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.91 (49, 5)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#76 Brandon Ravenel


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