Hitting the Road to Open Conference Play: The James Madison football squad will play its first true road game of the season as it opens Colonial Athletic Association play at Rhode Island today. So far, JMU has had two games at home and a neutral site game at FedEx Field last weekend.
The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, '76) is in his 14th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with a 98-62 record.
Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer (Dickinson, '90) is in his fourth year as head coach of the Rams with a 9-25 record and his seventh year as a head coach overall, sporting a 22-45 mark.
History With Rhode Island: This will be the 11th meeting in history between JMU and URI, with the Dukes holding a 7-3 advantage. Madison is 2-2 in Kingston and has won the last five meetings, including two straight on the road. Last year, the Dukes took a 31-13 Senior Day victory at home en route to their playoff berth.
JMU leads 7-3
(Home 5-1, Away 2-2)
Date Location W/L Score
9/5/87 Home W 38-0
11/15/97 Home W (3ot) 39-37
10/31/98 Away L 21-28
10/14/00 Away L 6-7
9/22/01 Home L 16-12
11/2/02 Away W 15-11
11/1/03 Home W 39-27
10/7/06 Home W 35-23
10/13/07 Away W 44-27
11/12/11 Home W 31-13
National Rankings: JMU has come into the 2012 season with high expectations both from the coaches and the media, according to their respective polls. The Dukes are ranked eighth in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll, while being in the No. 5 slot in The Sports Network Preseason Poll, which is voted on by sports information, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries. Following the third week of play, Madison is now No. 7 in the FCS Coaches Poll, while advancing the No. 6 slot in the The Sports Network poll, having dropped two spots in each after last week's loss to FBS No. 8 West Virginia.
The Dukes have earned significant recognition in several national preseason publications, with four of the five putting JMU in the top five. Phil Steele's Annual picks JMU second in its preseason rankings, while USA Today has Madison fourth. Athlon College Football and College Sporting News both have James Madison in the fifth spot, while Lindy's College Football picked the squad 13th nationally.
Matthews Closing In On the Century Mark: JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews is closing in on a historic milestone in his coaching career. In his 14th season at the helm of the Dukes, Matthews is just two wins away from having 100 victories in his coaching career. He is currently tied for 24th on the FCS career active victories list, tied with New Hampshire's Sean McDonnell.
Dukes After A Loss Under Matthews: In its 13-plus seasons under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews, James Madison has a 28-25 record in games after a loss (other than season finale losses). However, that record takes a better turn starting in the 2004 season, as the Dukes are an improved 16-10 in those games after a loss. Also, JMU has only had four multiple-game losing streaks since 2004, with the longest a four-game skid each in 2009 and 2010.
Conference Openers Have Had Success: Madison has made it a habit to get off to a good start in conference action, sporting a 13-6 record in league openers since 1993, including a stellar 10-3 mark under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews. The Dukes are 5-3 on the road in conference starters and 3-2 under Matthews away from home in league firsts. The only conference opener losses Matthews has had were on the road in 2001 (26-19 at New Hampshire), 2009 (24-17 at Hofstra) and 2010 (versus Delaware (13-10)). Last season, Madison opened CAA action with a 20-14 win at then-No. 5 William & Mary. This is the first time that JMU and URI have met in the Dukes' league-opening game.
Conference Opener Records in I-AA/FCS: Rip Scherer -- 0-2; Alex Wood -- 3-1; Mickey Matthews -- 10-3
Precursor to Something Greater This Year?: All college football fans want to look for something that gives them an indication of possible success for their teams. Interestingly for Dukes' fans, that may be the opening week's win over Saint Francis and playing West Virginia as their precursors for this year. Last year, the Red Flash traveled for its second game of the season to a nationally-ranked opponent -- North Dakota State -- and dropped a 56-3 decision to the Bison, who went on to last year's FCS National Championship. The 2004 season was the only time that JMU has taken on West Virginia, as the Dukes won the next six games and eventually went on to a 13-2 record and the I-AA National Championship. So the JMU Nation hopes the same end result occurs for its squad this season.
Last Time Out - JMU Battles in Loss to West Virginia: FBS No. 9 West Virginia's high powered offense was limited to more than 27 points lower than its scoring average the last two games, but Geno Smith's five touchdown passes gave the Mountaineers the 42-12 victory over FCS No. 5 James Madison in the Virginia 529 College Savings Classic at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Sept. 15.
WVU outgained Madison 569-300, including 448 yards of passing. The Dukes put together 188 rushing yards and 112 yards through the air against the Mountaineers. JMU held an 11-minute advantage in time of possession, but were only 2-of-4 in the red zone.
Redshirt-junior running back Jordan Anderson led all rushers with 75 yards on 17 carries, with redshirt-senior quarterback Justin Thorpe going 44 yards on 14 carries. Thorpe was also 6-of-13 for 71 yards through the air with one interception. Senior safety Jakarie Jackson had a career-high 14 tackles, while sophomore safety Dean Marlowe added nine, including a third-quarter safety for the Dukes. (Full recap on page 19).
Last Year's Meeting - JMU Dominates Rhody: Led by 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Dae'Quan Scott, No. 19 James Madison defeated Rhode Island 31-13 in front of a Senior Day crowd of 25,096 at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, on Nov. 12, 2011.
JMU posted 241 of its 332 total yards on the ground, averaging nearly six yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Dukes' defense recorded four takeaways and surrendered just 140 yards through the first three quarters before the Rams tacked on a pair of scoring drives late in the game.
Scott rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries, scoring on rushes of 66 and 21 yards in the third quarter to help the Dukes build a 28-0 lead. In his first action since Sept. 24, redshirt-junior quarterback Justin Thorpe rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown to go with 91 yards passing and a score. (Full recap on page 18).
Ranking High In the Opening Weekends of Play: JMU finds itself among the leaders in the nation in various statistical categories in the opening week of the play. Offensively, the Dukes' average of 441.00 yards ranks 18th among FCS teams, the 265.33 rushing yards ranks eighth and the 36.33 points per game is the 16th most nationally in the opening games. Defensively, the 17.33 points per game given up ranks 25th nationally while the 110.67 rushing yards per game is 33rd. Additionally, Madison's average of 42.00 net punting yards is sixth among FCS teams.
Oh Captain, My Captains: James Madison's Justin Thorpe, Brian Barlow, Earl Watford, Jakarie Jackson, Stephon Robertson and Tyler Snow have been selected by their teammates as captains for the 2012 football season. Thorpe and Barlow are captains for the second straight season, while this is the first time for the remaining four.
Scott Chewing Up Ground:James Madison running back Dae'Quan Scott has been eating up yardage this season, playing in just five quarters of the first two games due to the significant lead for JMU in each, Scott still has a team-high 180 yards on 20 carries (nine yards per carry) and three touchdowns.He has also has a eight receptions for 90 yards (11.2 yards per catch) and a pair of scores. However, he injured an ankle, missing the West Virginia contest and will miss the Rhode Island game.
Scott was named the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week for his play in the Alcorn State game. It is the third time in his career he has garnered the league's weekly offensive honor, having picked it up twice last year, and the fourth time he has earned a league weekly award overall. Scott played just 27 minutes in a 42-3 win over Alcorn State, but it was enough time to account for 108 rushing yards, his ninth career 100-yard game, and two touchdowns on just eight carries for the Dukes. The junior also hauled in five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. He opened the scoring for JMU with a 1-yard run and then followed up with a season-long 67-yard scamper to put the Dukes up 14-0 in the first quarter. He then added a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Justin Thorpe late in the first half that gave Madison a 28-0 halftime lead.
Thorpe Successful Under Center Leading the Dukes: Redshirt-senior quarterback Justin Thorpe has been a very solid starter for Madison when he has been in the game. Overall, he has a 13-6 record as a starting quarterback as well as being 13-4 against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents. Even more impressive is that Thorpe has led JMU to wins in his last 11 regular season FCS starts and 12 of his last 13 FCS games overall.
Starke Is Solid With the Foot But Splits The Uprights Even Better at Home: Redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke has shown his ability to hit clutch kicks for the Dukes, having connected on two final-play, game-winning field goals last year. Overall in his career, he is now 18-of-22 (.818) on field goals and 48-of-49 (.980) on extra points. However at Bridgeforth Stadium, he has hit all five of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 47-yarder against Saint Francis last weekend, and is 31-of-32 (.969) on PATs, with his only missed kick ever in Bridgeforth against Villanova last year.
Robertson Getting In On the Play: Redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson has shown a nose for the football throughout his collegiate career. A Sports Network Third-Team Preseason All-American and Preseason All-CAA linebacker in 2012, Robertson has already led the Dukes in tackles in the first two games, compiling 17 tackles while playing just six quarters of action.
For his career, Robertson has started all 25 games he has played and has posted 220 career tackles. One of the most memorable plays in his career was a key forced fumble late in the win at Virginia Tech in 2010, a game in which he also had a season-high 13 tackles.
Jakarie Not Afraid to "Jak" Opponents Up: Senior safety Jakarie Jackson has shown his ability to make an impact defensively during his time at JMU. On Sept. 15, Jackson put together a career-high 14 tackles against West Virginia in what Head Coach Mickey Matthews said was his best collegiate game. Jackson had 10 solo shots and also added one pass breakup. He is now 21 tackles away from the career 200-tackle mark.
Dukes in the Show: JMU is well represented in the NFL on the 2012 rosters entering the season. The Dukes have two former players that were on opening day rosters for the 2012 season. Linebacker Akeem Jordan has spent his first five years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and is starting this season at weakside linebacker. Starting his third season in the NFL is former defensive end turned linebacker Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills), who is currently the starter at outside linebacker. Former tight end Mike Caussin (Buffalo Bills) is on the physically unable to perform list currently after being signed last year off Jacksonville's practice squad. Most recently, former defensive end D.J. Bryant was signed to the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 18.
Matthews The Winningest: Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) became the all-time leader in victories among JMU football coaches Sept. 27, 2008 in a 24-10 victory at Maine. The win gave the then-10th-year Dukes coach a 68-45 JMU record. It is now at 98-62 overall, which currently ranks 22nd among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and tied for 24th in victories.
Challace McMillin (1972-84), JMU's first football coach, had a 67-56-1 record during 13 JMU seasons and held the program's previous coaching victories record. McMillin has retired as a JMU kinesiology teaching staff member, but he continues to work with JMU athletic teams in a sports psychology role.
JMU'S COACHING RECORDS
Coach (Years) W-L Pct. NCAA
Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) 98-62 .613 6
Challace McMillin (1972-84) 67-56-1 .544 0
Joe Purzycki (1985-90) 34-30-2 .530 1
Rip Scherer (1991-94) 29-19 .604 2
Alex Wood (1995-98) 23-22 .511 1
* Challace McMillin's listed coaching record at JMU does not include the program's inaugural football season of 1972 when the team's schedule did not include the minimum number of games to constitute an NCAA-recognized varsity football season. JMU's 1972 team played five games against a mixture of college varsity, junior varsity and prep-school teams.
All-Time Versus the CAA: For the last eight-plus seasons, there has not been a better team in league action in the Colonial Athletic Association than James Madison. During that time span, the Dukes have put together a 45-19 conference mark to share the top spot with New Hampshire. Overall JMU is 71-31 in that span, surpassed only by New Hampshire's 73-26 mark.
CAA Records 2004-Pres. Conf. Overall
James Madison 45-19 71-30
New Hampshire 45-19 75-30
Richmond 36-28 64-39
Villanova 36-29 60-43
Massachusetts* 36-20 59-36
Delaware 35-29 63-39
William & Mary 33-32 54-44
Maine 32-32 47-47
Hofstra* 18-30 30-37
Towson 18-47 35-57
Northeastern* 16-32 20-47
Rhode Island 15-50 27-64
NOTE: During this time period until the 2010 season, CAA teams each season played five other teams in their division and three of the six teams in the other division for an eight-game league slate. With the dropping of football by two CAA schools prior to 2010 (Hofstra and Northeastern*), the league eliminated the divisions and are one unified standings. After the 2011 season, Massachusetts* moved up to the FBS level.
JMU vs. CAA Teams (* Former league teams, Includes when not CAA members)
Opponent Overall Met
Boston University* 5-1-0 1997
Connecticut* 4-1-0 1999
Delaware 8-12-0 2010
Hofstra* 6-3-0 2009
Maine 10-5-0 2011
Massachusetts* 7-8-1 2011
New Hampshire 7-7-0 2011
Northeastern* 12-8-0 2007
Old Dominion 0-1-0 2011
Rhode Island 7-3-0 2011
Richmond 13-16-0 2011
Towson 17-5-1 2010
Villanova 11-9-0 2011
William & Mary 19-15-0 2011
Totals 125-94-2 (.570)
Preseason All-America Honors: James Madison's Earl Watford, Stephon Robertson and Dae'Quan Scott were named Preseason All-Americans by The Sports Network, the organization announced. Watford was a first-team selection at offensive guard, while Robertson and Scott were on the third team at linebacker and all-purpose, respectively.
Additionally, JMU had five players named to their respective position watch lists by College Football Performance Awards, the organization announced. Scott was named to the running back list, with redshirt-senior Brian Barlow named to the 25-person tight end watch list. Robertson was named to the linebackers' watch list while redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke and redshirt-senior punter David Skahn earned spots on their respective lists.
Preseason All-CAA Awards: Redshirt-senior offensive lineman Earl Watford, redshirt-senior h-back/tight end Brian Barlow, redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson and redshirt-junior return specialist/running back Dae'Quan Scott were selected to the CAA's 25-man preseason squad.
Bringing Back A Solid Core of Returners: The Dukes return 46 letterwinners, including 16 starters, back to the 2012 squad. Madison has six returners on offense, led by quarterback Justin Thorpe, running back Dae'Quan Scott and lineman Earl Watford, while the defense has seven returners, paced by linebacker Stephon Robertson, lineman Tyler Snow and safety Jakarie Jackson. Madison also returns all three key specialists in kicker Cameron Starke, punter David Skahn and snapper Chris Beaver.
JMU Football History: The 2012 season is JMU's 41st season of football, its 39th varsity football season, its 34th season with football scholarship players and its 33rd season competing at what is now the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, formerly Division I-AA.
JMU began football in 1972, moved to a recognized varsity schedule in 1974, first awarded scholarships for the 1979 season and moved to Division I-AA in 1980. JMU moved from Division III to Division II in 1979 and to then-Division I-AA for the 1980 season.
JMU's top seasons in addition to winning the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA championship (13-2) have been in 2008 when the Dukes reached the FCS semifinals as the playoffs' top-seeded team and compiled a 12-2 record, 2007 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 2006 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1999 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1995 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1994 (10-3, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1991 (9-4, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1987 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1982 (8-3), 1978 (8-2, No. 9, Division III), and 1975 (9-0-1, College Division).