Seeing A Lot of the Home Field In the Coming Weeks: James Madison returns to the friendly surroundings of Bridgeforth Stadium this week for the contest against Saint Francis (Pa.). Not only is the first of back-to-back home games but it is also the first of four of the next five that the Dukes will play at home. Next week, Madison welcomes football newcomer Charlotte to town before playing its only road game of this stretch at Delaware, Sept. 28, to open Colonial Athletic Association play. JMU then returns home to host Albany (Oct. 5) for Family Weekend and Richmond (Oct. 12) for a nationally-televised tilt on NBC Sports Network.
The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, ‘76) is in his 15th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with a 104-66 record.
Head Coach Chris Villarrial (Indiana (Pa.), ’96) is in his fourth year as head coach of the Red Flash and overall, with an 8-27 mark.
History With Saint Francis: This is the second time that the Dukes and Red Flash will meet on the football field. Last year, the two squads met in the season opener at Bridgeforth Stadium, with JMU taking a comfortable 55-7 victory.
Spreading the Ball Around the Wide Side of the Fields: JMU is doing an effective job of spreading the ball around to various receivers in the passing game. In the season opener against Central Connecticut State, quarterback Michael Birdsong connected on 10 completions in the win. The bigger part was that eight different players had at least one catch, with two getting two receptionse each. In the contest at Akron, eight different Dukes made receptions, with all but one having at least three catches on the day.
Putting Points on the Board Early: James Madison has gotten off to solid starts in its first two games this year. In both games so far, the Dukes have punched the ball into the end zone on their first possession and both with lengthy drives. Against Central Connecticut State, JMU went 75 yards in nine plays for the score, while at Akron, it took 14 plays to go 75 yards for the game’s first tally.
Moving the Ball and the Air: James Madison’s offense got the ball going through both the running game and passing attack at Akron, Sept. 7. The Dukes amassed 188 yards on the ground, led by senior running back Dae’Quan Scott’s 107 yards and one touchdown, while putting up 310 yards through the air for a total of 498 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong was 29-for-42 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on the day. Scott also led all receivers with six catches, while junior wide receiver Daniel Brown led with 74 yards of receiving and one touchdown on three receptions.
Last Year’s Meeting - JMU Opens the Season With A Solid Performance: The Dukes started out the 2012 season by scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions en route to a 55-7 victory over visiting Saint Francis (Pa.), Sept. 1. Madison posted 602 yards of total offense, the third most in the program’s Division I history, while tying the school Division I record with 23 rushing first downs and setting a new program and CAA record with 38 total first downs.
Madison was also a stellar 7-of-13 on third down conversions and held the ball more than 11 minutes than the visitors. The JMU defense was able to hold the Red Flash to just 155 yards of total offense off of 49 offensive plays and only 4-for-12 on third-down conversions.
Four Dukes had at least 50 yards of rushing as JMU totaled 377 rushing yards for the game. Leading all rushers was redshirt senior quarterback Justin Thorpe, who ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 15-of-27 pass attempts for 177 of the 225 total passing yards by JMU quarterbacks, including a passing touchdown to redshirt junior Dae’Quan Scott. (Complete recap on page 21.)
Last Time Out - Not the Desired Ending at Akron: No. 15/20 James Madison football team’s comeback drive fell just short as the Dukes dropped a 35-33 decision at Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Akron, Sept. 7.
With 1:19 remaining and down 35-33, the Dukes began a 12-play drive at their own 20-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong connected to redshirt sophomore Deane Cheatham for a seven-yard pass, but two quick plays came up empty. Coming out of the final timeout, redshirt senior Dae’Quan Scott gained four rushing yards to the JMU31, but an unsportsmanlike conduct call backed the Dukes up to their own 16-yard line.
Birdsong battled and connected with Cheatham once again for a five-yard pick-up before an incomplete pass to freshman Rashard Davis stopped the clock. Scott pushed ahead again, rushing for nine yards and the first down on the JMU 30. A 21-yard strike to redshirt senior Quintin Hunter moved the Dukes into Akron territory and a follow-up 13-yard pass to redshirt senior Arlandis Harvey gave JMU the first down on the Akron 36-yard line. Harvey locked up with Birdsong once more for a nine-yard pass but, without a first down, confusion on the field allowed the clock to wind down before JMU get take a snap.
The Dukes possessed the ball for 38:20 and ran 94 plays for 498 yards, including two fourth-down conversions in three attempts. The Zips held the ball for just 21:40 and ran 57 plays for 356 yards.
Birdsong recorded his first 300-yard passing game as he notched 310 yards on 29-of-42 completions, including three touchdown passes. Scott rushed for 107 yards with one touchdown and caught six passes for 18 yards and a touchdown. (Complete recap on page 20.)
Birdsong Making His Aerial Mark: Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong etched his name in the record books with his perfomance at Akron, Sept. 7. Birdsong paced the JMU offense to almost 500 yards of total offense in nearly leading JMU to rally at FBS Akron. All career bests, the 310 passing yards are the ninth-best single game in school history, the 42 attempts are the seventh most and the 29 completions are the third-best mark in program history. The three touchdown passes also tied for the fifth-best JMU game ever and the most since Justin Thorpe had three against Towson in 2009.
Scott Chewing Up Ground:James Madison running back Dae’Quan Scott continues to eat up yardage for the Dukes in his career.
Last time out, the senior rushed for 107 yards and one score on 27 carries and had six receptions for 18 yards and another score at Akron, Sept. 7. In the opening game this year, Scott had 15 rushed for 120 yards (8.0 yards per carry) and also had a pair of punt returns for 63 yards, including a 54-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter against Central Connecticut State. It was just the 15th JMU punt return touchdown in stadium history.
Scott continues to move up the JMU career rushing charts to seventh with 2,519 yards, just 15 yards behind Maurice Fenner (2003-06) in sixth at 2,534. He also ranks seventh at JMU in career scoring with 198 points, just six behind Eriq Williams (1989-92) in fourth at 204. Kicker David Rabil (2003-06) is the all-time leader at 231 points.
Starke Moving Up the Charts: Senior kicker Cameron Starke is continuing to move up the career charts among JMU’s kickers: His 28 career field goals puts him fifth all-time, trailing Mickey Stinnett (1982-84) by two in fourth. John Coursey (1993-96) holds the all-time record with 39.
Starke is almost automatic as well when the spot is inside the 30-yard line, as he has hit on 22-of-24 field goal attempts from 39 yards or less in his career, with the only misses being his first career attempt at North Carolina and a questionable call on a 36-yard attempt at Eastern Kentucky, both in 2011. In fact, he has connected on 11 straight field goal attempts of less than 40 yards.
FIELD GOALS FGM-A Pct 01-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 Lg Blk
2011 15-19 78.9 0-0 6-7 7-8 2-3 0-1 44 1
2012 10-14 71.4 1-1 3-3 3-3 3-7 0-0 49 0
2013 3-3 100.0 1-1 1-1 0-0 1-1 0-0 45 0
Career 28-36 77.8 2-2 10-11 10-11 6-11 0-1 49 1
Robertson Getting In On the Play: Redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson has shown a nose for the football throughout his collegiate career. A 2013 Sports Network First-Team Preseason All-American, Robertson opened his final collegiate season with 12 tackles, two of the solo, in the season-opening victory over Central Connecticut State. He also tied for team-high honors with seven stops at Akron, Sept. 7.
As CAA Defensive Player of the Year at linebacker in 2012, Robertson led the Dukes in tackles in seven of the 11 games last season, including a career-high 15 in the win over No. 12 Towson. He averaged 9.18 tackles per game (101 total, 48 solos), which was third in the CAA and tied for 43rd in the nation. He had his first pass interception of the year and second of his career at Maine. He has contributed five pass breakups on the season, along with 8.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. He recorded double-digit tackles in last games this season, including five of the last seven - all CAA games.
In his career, Robertson has started in all 36 games played. He has amassed 323 career tackles, an average of 8.97 tackles per game, despite being targeted as a threat by every opposing offense. He has also been named a 2013 Preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview and The Sports Network and is also on the initial watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award after finishing second among underclassmen and eighth overall in last year’s balloting despite appearing on just the final watch list.
Matthews Reaches the Century Mark: JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews accomplished a historic milestone in his coaching career last season and continues to move up the charts this year. In his 15th season at the helm of the Dukes, Matthews earned his 100th career victory with a 13-10 win over then-No. 12 Towson, Oct. 6, 2012. He is currently tied for 24th on the FCS career active victories list with 104 victories, joining fellow CAA coach New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell at the same spot.
Preseason All-America Honors: James Madison’s Stephon Robertson and Dean Marlowe were named Preseason All-Americans by The Sports Network, the organization announced. Robertson was a first-team selection at linebacker, while Marlowe was on the second team at safety.
Smith Coming Into His Own As a Wide Receiver: Junior DeAndre’ Smith is continuing to show his growth with Madison, tallying his best game of his career at Richmond, Oct. 20, 2012. Smith had six receptions for career highs of 122 yards and two touchdowns. This year, Smith is the top receiving returner with 323 yards last year on 29 catches (second among returners) and two scores.
This season, Smith has five catches for 64 yards with a long of 30.
Birdsong Made History at Quarterback: Sophomore Michael Birdsong came into camp as the starting signal caller and nothing in the first two games of 2013 would change that situation. Birdsong was 10-for-18 for 115 yards and one touchdown through the air and also had nine carries for 55 yards and a pair of scores on the ground in the victory over Central Connecticut State. He then followed it up with a 29-for-42, 310 yards and three touchdown performance at Akron, Sept. 7. It was his first 200-yard or more passing game in his career and the ninth-best performance in school history. His 29 completions are the third-best mark in program history, while the three touchdown passes tied for the fifth-best JMU game ever.
Birdsong made his first collegiate start in the 2012 Georgia State game, leading the Dukes to a victory. Birdsong was 11-for-23 for 119 yards and one touchdown through the air while carrying the ball six times for 43 yards.
The start made him the first true freshman to start at the JMU signal caller slot since Head Coach Mickey Matthews' fourth season as head man of the Dukes in 2002. That year, Jayson Cooke started the season finale at Northeastern on Nov. 23, 2002, a game won by the Huskies 41-10. Other true freshman starters during Matthews' tenure have been current wide receivers coach Clayton Matthews (9/22/01) and Mike Connelly (10/23/99).
An injury cut his true freshman season short by two games, but he finished 41-for-77-for 478 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception.
Oh Captain, My Captains: James Madison's Stephon Robertson, Tyler Snow, Dae'Quan Scott, Quintin Hunter and Josh Wells have been selected by their teammates as captains for the 2013 football season. Robertson and Snow are captains for the second straight season, while this is the first time for the remaining three.
James Madison Football On TV: Six 2013 James Madison University football games are scheduled to be televised through a package coordinated by the Colonial Athletic Association, the conference announced today. Another JMU game was available for viewing through the Web-streaming service ESPN3, with all home games available on MadiZONE HD SportsNet presented by JMU Alumni Association.
The Dukes’ will be nationally televised in CAA games on the NBC Sports Network three times during the year, as well as on the NBC Sports Regional Networks three times, making Madison the most televised CAA squad in the package. JMU’s national broadcasts will be the home contest against Richmond on Oct. 12 at 3:30 p.m., as well as road contests at New Hampshire on Nov. 9 at 12:30 p.m., and at Towson on Nov. 23 at 3:30 p.m. The regional broadcasts include the Sept. 28 game at Delaware at 7 p.m. and home tilts with Villanova on Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 against CAA newcomer Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m.
JMU’s game at Akron on Sept. 7 was televised live on ESPN3, giving Madison fans the opportunity to watch four of the five road contests free of charge via television or the internet.
National Rankings: JMU come into the 2013 season with high expectations from both the coaches and the media, according to their respective polls. The Dukes were ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches Preseason poll, while being in the No. 19 slot in The Sports Network poll, which is voted on by sports information, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries. After the second week of play, Madison dropped two spots to 17th in the Coaches Poll and remained 20th in The Sports Network Poll, based on several of the victories over FBS schools last weekend.
Scott, Reynolds Named CAA Players of the Week: James Madison’s Dae’Quan Scott and Taylor Reynolds were honored as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Special Teams Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, as announced by the league Sept. 2.
A senior return specialist and running back, Scott’s fifth conference weekly honor comes on the heels of a solid all-purpose performance in JMU’s convincing 38-14 win over Central Connecticut State. The senior finished the season-opener with 197 all-purpose yards, including a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown that represented the first such score for him and the 15th for the Dukes in Bridgeforth Stadium history. Scott would add 15 carries for 120 yards and a reception for 14 yards in the win.
Playing in not only his first collegiate contest but his first game on the defensive side of the ball after making the transition from quarterback to cornerback in the spring, Reynolds racked up six tackles to go with an impressive 51-yard interception return for a touchdown in JMU’s win over the Blue Devils Aug. 31. The rookie’s pick-6 was the Dukes’ first since their final game of the 2011 season.
Playoffs Expanding Again in 2013: In 2011, JMU took advantage of the playoff expansion to 20 teams by grabbing one of the last slots in the 2011 FCS Playoffs and advancing to the second round after defeating Eastern Kentucky. This year, the playoffs increase in participation again, as 24 teams will be selected for the field, 11 via auto bids as the Pioneer League’s champion will now be automatically invited to the postseason. The top eight teams will be seeded, receive first-round byes and host second-round games. The 16 other teams will bid to host first-round games.
Taking on FBS Teams Not Kind to JMU: Against NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams that still compete in the division, JMU has a 4-18 record. The Dukes last played an FBS opponent Sept. 7, losing to Mid-American Conference-foe Akron, 35-33.
Opponent Record Met
Akron 0-1 2013
Ball State 0-1 1997
Duke 0-1 2008
Maryland 0-2 2009
Navy 2-1 1990
North Carolina 0-2 2011
Virginia 1-2 1983
Virginia Tech 1-6 2010
West Virginia 0-2 2012
Of JMU’s 22 games against FBS teams, 10 of the contests have been season-openers. JMU started the 1988 season at Navy, the 1991, 1992 and 1999 seasons at Virginia Tech, the 1997 season at Ball State, the 1998 season at Maryland, the 2007 and 2011 seasons at North Carolina, the 2008 season at Duke and 2009 at Maryland.
JMU’S FBS GAMES: JMU’s games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams (all road) include the following:
1979 Virginia 69, JMU 9 10/13
1980 Va. Tech 38, JMU 6 9/27
1982 JMU 21, Virginia 17 9/18
1983 Virginia 21, JMU 14 9/17
1988 Navy 27, JMU 14 9/3
1988 Va. Tech 27, JMU 6 11/19
1989 JMU 24, Navy 20 10/28
1990 JMU 16, Navy 7 10/27
1991 Va. Tech 41, JMU 12 8/31
1992 Va. Tech 49, JMU 20 9/5
1997 Ball State 24, JMU 6 9/6
1998 Maryland 23, JMU 15 9/5
1999 Va. Tech 47, JMU 0 9/4
2003 Va. Tech 43, JMU 0 9/6
2004 W. Va. 45, JMU 10 9/25
2007 N. Carolina 37, JMU 14 9/1
2008 Duke 31, JMU 7 8/30
2009 Maryland 38, JMU 35 (ot) 9/12
2010 JMU 21, Va. Tech 16 9/11
2011 N. Carolina 42, JMU 10 9/3
2012 W. Va. 42, JMU 12 9/15 at FedEx
2013 Akron 35, JMU 33 9/7
Scott, Reynolds Named CAA Players of the Week: James Madison's Dae'Quan Scott and Taylor Reynolds were honored as the Colonial Athletic Association's Special Teams Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, as announced by the league Sept. 2.
A senior return specialist and running back, Scott's fifth conference weekly honor comes on the heels of a solid all-purpose performance in JMU's convincing 38-14 win over Central Connecticut State. The senior finished the season-opener with 197 all-purpose yards, including a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown that represented the first such score for him and the 15th for the Dukes in Bridgeforth Stadium history. Scott would add 15 carries for 120 yards and a reception for 14 yards in the win.
Playing in not only his first collegiate contest but his first game on the defensive side of the ball after making the transition from quarterback to cornerback in the spring, Reynolds racked up six tackles to go with an impressive 51-yard interception return for a touchdown in JMU's win over the Blue Devils on Saturday. The rookie's pick-6 was the Dukes' first since their final game of the 2011 season.
Opening the Season Has Mixed Results: As a NCAA varsity program JMU is 22-18-1 in season-opening games, but since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) in 1980, the Dukes are 17-17 in season-openers.
In the FCS, JMU has started a season against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent 10 times (0-10 record), an FCS opponent 17 times (10-7 record) and a Division II opponent seven times (7-0 record).
Under Matthews, JMU is 9-6 in season-opening games, including 0-5 against FBS teams, 5-1 against FCS teams and 4-0 against Division II teams.
In season-opening games under Matthews, JMU lost in 1999 at Virginia Tech 47-0, defeated Lock Haven 72-0 in 2000, beat Elon 42-21 in 2001, lost to Hampton 31-28 in 2002, defeated Liberty 48-6 in 2003, beat Lock Haven 62-7 in 2004 and 56-0 in 2005, defeated Bloomsburg 14-3 in 2006, lost at North Carolina 37-14 in 2007, lost 31-7 at Duke in 2008, dropped 2009 ‘s season opener at Maryland in overtime, 38-35, won in 2010 against Morehead State, 48-7, lost 2011’s opener at North Carolina, 42-10, defeated Saint Francis (Pa.) last year, 55-7, and won this year's opener over Central Connecticut State, 38-14.
JMU Picked Fifth In Preseason Poll: Madison was selected to finish fifth in the preseason poll, as chosen by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
The Dukes were picked fifth overall in the preseason poll, despite having the second-most first-place votes with four. Villanova was picked to take home the league title, garnering 11 first-place votes, followed by Towson (three votes), New Hampshire (three votes), Richmond (one vote) and Madison. Delaware was picked sixth, followed by CAA-newcomer Stony Brook, Maine and William & Mary. The other CAA-newcomer Albany and Rhode Island round out the poll.
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 104-66 overall, which currently ranks 24th among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and 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.) 104-66 .612 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.
JMU UNDER MATTHEWS
Year Overall Conf.
1999 8-4 7-1 NCAA
2000 6-5 4-4
2001 2-9 0-9
2002 5-7 3-6
2003 6-6 4-5
2004 13-2 7-1 NCAA Title
2005 7-4 5-3
2006 9-3 7-1 NCAA
2007 8-4 6-2 NCAA
2008 12-2 8-0 NCAA
2009 6-5 4-4
2010 6-5 3-5
2011 8-5 5-3 NCAA
2012 7-4 5-3
2013 1-1 0-0
Totals 104-66 68-47
JMU Football History: The 2013 season is JMU’s 42nd season of football, its 40th varsity football season, its 35th season with football scholarship players and its 34th 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 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).
Three Selected To Preseason All-CAA Squads: Senior linebacker Stephon Robertson was named the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and was one of three Dukes named to the preseason squad, announced at the CAA Football Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. Joining Robertson on the squad was junior safety Dean Marlowe and senior kicker Cameron Starke.
The 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, Robertson was previously selected as a Walter Camp All-American and a Second Team Associated Press and Sports Network All-American, as well as earning First Team All-CAA honors. A starter in all 11 games last year and 34 played in his career, Robertson was a force for Madison’s defense, which ranked second in the CAA and 24th in FCS football in scoring, first in the league and 19th nationally in rushing defense and fifth in the CAA in pass defense. Also a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the nation’s top defensive player, Robertson finished with a team-high 101 tackles, including 48 solos, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and five pass breakups, which earned him First Team All-CAA honors for the second straight year after being named CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.
A two-time All-CAA selection, including a first-team honor last season, Marlowe was the only sophomore and one of four non-seniors on the league’s first team last year. A Preseason All-America pick by The Sports Network, the safety had a career season-high 82 tackles on the year, including 44 solos, 5.0 for loss, seven passes defended, team-high tying three interceptions, one forced fumble and one safety. One of the leaders on a JMU defense that was second in the CAA in scoring, first in rushing and fifth in pass defense, Marlowe ranked second on the team, third among CAA defensive backs and ninth in the CAA overall at 7.45 tackles per game and 7.63 in league contests. He was tied for eighth in the league with three interceptions and recorded a season-high 12 tackles in the home win over William & Mary, one of two games with 10 or more tackles on the year.
A Second Team All-CAA pick last year, Starke was a solid kicker for the Dukes, hitting all 37 of his point after attempts and going 10-for-14 (71.4 percent) on the year in field goal attempts, including connecting on all seven from inside 40 yards. He ranked second on the team in scoring with 67 points, including a career-long 49-yarder as part of a 13-10 win over then-defending CAA champion Towson.