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Stephon Robertson is sixth nationally in tackles per game.Courtesy: Photography/JMU Athletics Communications
No. 21 Football Returns Home To Host UAlbany In Family Weekend Clash
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:10/02/2013
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Returning Home For A Pair In CAA Play: James Madison will play host to CAA-newcomer UAlbany today for a Family Weekend tilt. Following today’s game, the Dukes will host the Richmond Spiders next weekend for a nationally-televised tilt on NBC Sports Network. These two games will wrap up a stretch where the Dukes will have played five of their first seven regular-season games at home.

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 106-67 record.

      UAlbany Head Coach Bob Ford (Springfield College, ’59) is in his 41st year of coaching the Great Danes, with an impressive 256-163 mark, and 45th season overall, sporting a 265-184-1 record. Ford announced prior to the season that he is retiring  and this is his last year coaching the Great Danes.

History With UAlbany: This is the first time that the Dukes and Great Danes have met on the football field. UAlbany has joined the Colonial Athletic Association this season from the Northeast Conference, where they were the defending champions. This is one of two CAA newcomers that Madison will host at Bridgeforth Stadium this season, as Stony Brook will also come to Harrisonburg on Nov. 16 for Senior Day.

Home Is Where the Heart (And the Victories) Are: The Dukes are tough to beat at Bridgeforth Stadium under Head Coach Mickey Matthews. In his 14-plus years at the helm, Matthews has led his squad to a solid 66-20 (.767) record in Harrisonburg. What makes that more impressive is that eight of the losses occurred during a two-year span (2001-02) when the Dukes had a combined overall record of 7-16 (JMU was 2-9 in 2001 and 5-7 in 2002). Last year, JMU was 5-1 at home, its 10th-straight .500 or better season at home.

Putting Points on the Board Early: James Madison got off to solid starts in four of its first five games this year. In those games, the Dukes punched the ball into the end zone on their first possession and all 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. However against Saint Francis Sept. 14, the Dukes did not find the end zone until the third quarter, eventually coming away with a 24-20 victory. In the win over Charlotte, JMU used its first possession to go 76 yards in 12 plays, capped off by redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott’s 9-yard touchdown run. Most recently, the Dukes converted Stephon Robertson’s interception for a field goal at Delaware.

Dukes After A Loss Under Matthews: In its 14-plus seasons under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews, James Madison has a 31-25 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 19-10 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.

        This season, JMU rebounded from its loss at Akron to pick up the win over Saint Francis.

Last 10 Years Versus the CAA: For the last nine-plus seasons starting in 2004, James Madison has been among the top CAA teams. During that time span, the Dukes have put together a 50-23 conference mark and trail New Hampshire by a game and a half. Overall JMU is 79-36 in that span, surpassed only by New Hampshire’s 82-35 mark. Additionally, Madison is the only school in this group to have at least a .500 overall record in each year since 2003.

CAA Records 2004-Pres.

                                         Conf.       Overall

New Hampshire       51-21         82-35

James Madison      50-23         79-36

Richmond                   42-31         72-44

Villanova                      42-31         68-45

Delaware                     38-35         69-46

Maine                            37-36         55-53

William & Mary         35-38         59-51

Towson                         24-49         46-60

Rhode Island              16-59         29-56

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, the league eliminated the divisions and are one unified standings. After the 2011 season, Massachusetts moved up to the FBS level.

All-Time JMU  vs. CAA Teams

(* Former league teams, Includes when not CAA members)

                                                         JMU            Last

Opponent                              Overall         Met

Boston University*                 5-1-0          1997

Connecticut*                            4-1-0          1999

Delaware                                  8-13-0         2013

Georgia State                           1-0-0          2012

Hofstra*                                       6-3-0          2009

Maine                                         11-5-0         2012

Massachusetts*                       7-8-1          2011

New Hampshire                      7-7-0          2011

Northeastern*                         12-8-0         2007

Old Dominion                          0-2-0          2012

Rhode Island                             8-3-0          2012

Richmond                                13-17-0        2012

Towson                                      18-5-1         2012

Villanova                                  11-10-0        2012

William & Mary                     20-15-0        2012

Totals                                      131-98-2     (.572)

 

Ranking High In the Opening Weekends of Play: JMU finds itself among the leaders in the nation in various statistical categories in the opening weeks of the play. Defensively, Madison ranks 14th in total defense at 292.2 yards per game, 15th in rushing defense at 106.8 yards per game ,12th in sacks at 3.50 a contest, 25th in scoring defense at 21.0 points per game and tied for 26th in red-zone defense at 71.4 percent. Offensively, the Dukes’ average of 226.2 rushing yards per game is 20th, while the 438.00 total yards ranks 33rd among FCS teams.

      Individually, redshirt-senior Dae’Quan Scott is second in the CAA and is 10th nationally in rushing per game at 128.8 yards per game. He is also 12th in all-purpose yards at 158.00 and 19th in scoring at 9.6 points per game. Redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson is also first in the CAA and sixth nationally at 12.2 tackles a contest.

Robertson CAA Defensive Player of the Week Again: James Madison redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week, the league announced today. It is the second time this season and fourth in his career he has earned the honor.

        The reigning CAA Football’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year picked up his second-consecutive weekly honor on the heels of a standout defensive effort against Delaware on Saturday. The senior turned in a career-high 16 tackles, including a career-best 4.5 for loss, in Newark and now leads the league with 61 stops on the year. Robertson also came away with his third career interception in the loss, one that led to the first points of the game for JMU.

Scott Chewing Up Ground: Redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott continues to eat up yardage for the Dukes in his career.  Scott has been a workhorse for JMU this season, posting 100-yard rushing games in each of the first four contests, giving him 16 for his career. Recently, Scott recorded a career-high 35 carries for 176 yards and two scores in the rain-drenched victory over Charlotte, Sept. 21. On Sept. 14, he had a then career-high 32 carries for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the victory  over visiting Saint Francis. This performance came on the heels of 107 yards and one score at Akron and 120 yards in the season opening victory against Central Connecticut State. He 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.

      Currently, Scott is second in the CAA and 10th nationally in rushing per game with 128.8 yards a contest. He also ranks in the top 20 in FCS football in all-purpose yards (12th, 158.00) and scoring per game (18th, 9.6). He ranks 36th in punt return average at 7.6 yards per return.

      Scott surged up the JMU career rushing charts to third with 2,936 yards, now trailing Rodney Landers (2005-08) in second at 3,477 yards. Former NFL player and JMU Hall of Famer Warren Marshall (1982-86) holds the all-time rushing lead at JMU with 4,168 yards.

      Scott also recently surpassed Marshall for the career touchdown lead with his 35th score against Saint Francis, a mark that now stands at 37. He also ranks second at JMU in career scoring with 228 points, just three behind all-time leader David Rabil (2003-06) at 231 points. In addition, the Staunton, Va., native is currently tied for fourth in career rushing touchdowns at JMU with 29.

      Among the current FCS active career leaders, Scott is sixth in rushes (569), eighth in yards (2,936), tied for seventh in total touchdowns (38), tied for eighth in rushing touchdowns (29) and 14th in gain per rush (5.2 ypr) and 17th in points per game (6.0).

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 has led the Dukes in tackles in each of the five games this season. Most recently, he posted a career-high 16 tackles with a career-best 4.5 tackles for loss and an interception at Delaware to earn CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

      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 contributed five pass breakups last season, along with 8.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. He recorded double-digit tackles in seven of 11 games last season, including five of the last seven - all CAA games.

      In his career, Robertson has started in all 39 games played. He has amassed 365 career tackles, an average of 9.36 tackles per game, despite being targeted as a threat by every opposing offense. That ranks him eighth on JMU's all-time tackles list, trailing Derick Pack (1999-2001) in seventh at 399 tackles. NFL standout Charles Haley (1982-85) is the all-time leader at 506.

      He has also been named a 2013 Preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview and The Sports Network. He 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.


Brown Starting to Make His Mark: After missing the opening game, redshirt-junior wide receiver Daniel Brown is starting to show his ability to be a threat in the passing game. Through the first four games, he is averaging 76.5 yards per game, with team highs of18 receptions for 306 yards and one touchdown. His yards per game ranks sixth in the CAA and 44th nationally, while the 18 receptions and 306 yards are already single-season bests for him. He had a season-high six receptions in the home win over Charlotte, Sept. 21, and his 98 yards on five catches at Delaware is a career best and season-high for the Dukes.

The Road In the CAA Is Not Kind to the Dukes: To be the best, you have to beat the best and James Madison has too much of that on the road, according to the current polls. All four of JMU's road conference opponents are at least receiving votes, which started with Sept. 28's game at Delaware (RV). Also on the list are trips to William & Mary (Oct. 26 - RV), New Hampshire (Nov. 9 - #7/10) and Towson (Nov. 23 - #2/3).

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.

National Rankings: JMU came 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 fifth week of play, Madison moved up to 21st in the Coaches Poll and receiving votes in the The Sports Network Poll.

Last Time Out - Tough CAA Loss at Delaware:  No. 14 James Madison was unable to overcome two short field situations resulting in Delaware second-half touchdowns and fell to the host Blue Hens, 29-22, in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams.

      Leading 19-7 in the third quarter, Madison gave up two straight drives starting on JMU’s own 15-yard line to Delaware, the first set up by a long kick return and the second on a blocked Connor Arnone punt. The Blue Hens converted both into touchdowns to take a 22-19 lead, with the second an 8-yard touchdown pass from Trent Hurley to Nick Broyles who connected again for the two-point conversion to take the lead.

      The Dukes rallied with an eight-play, 65-yard drive but the drive stalled at the 11-yard line. Madison was forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Cameron Starke to tie the game at 22 with 11:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.

      Delaware responded on its ensuing possession by going on an 11-play, 75-yard march that ended with 4-yard touchdown pass from Hurley to Broyles to give the Blue Hens what would be the game-winning touchdown with 6:40 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

      Neither team was able to run the ball effectively in the game, as the two teams only managed just over 120 yards each. Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong was 19-for-35 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson led all tacklers with a career-high 16 stops, including a career-best 4.5 tackles for loss.

Dae’Quan Scott was held in check for most of the game by the Blue Hens defense and finished the game with 20 carries for 52 yards and four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.

      James Madison held a slight advantage in yardage at 414-360 and also time of possession at 32:17 to 27:43. The two key stats were third-down conversions, as JMU was just 3-of-16 as compared to UD’s 8-of-15 and Madison also  committed nine penalties for 77 yards compared to just one penalty for 10 yards for Delaware. (Complete recap on page 20.)

Starke Moving Up the Charts: Senior kicker Cameron Starke is continuing to move up the career charts among JMU’s kickers: His 32 career field goals ties him with former NFL kicker Scott Norwood (1978-81) and David Rabil (2003-06) for second all-time. 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 26-of-29 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, and a 33-yarder last week at Delaware. The miss snapped a 12-consecutive field gla made streak of inside of 40 yards.

      He is also 83-of-86 in his career in point after attempts, giving him 179 career points at JMU, ranking 10th all-time just past Maurice Fenner (2003-06) at 176. Next on the chart at Curtis Keaton (1998-99) and Rodney Landers (2005-08) at 186.  Among the FCS active career leaders, Starke is third in field goal percentage (78.4) and ranks 19th in extra points made (78).

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                      7-8       100.0     1-1        3-3         1-2         2-2        0-0        45       0

Career               32-41     78.0      2-2     12-13    11-13     7-12       0-1        49       1

 

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 receptions each.  In the contest at Akron, eight different Dukes made receptions, with all but one having at least three catches on the day. Overall, 13 players have had catches this season for the Dukes, just two shy of last year’s total.

Getting the Sack Attack Going: With leadership from the defensive coaching staff, including the addition of defensive line coach Jeff Hanson, the Dukes' defense has found itself in the opponent's backfield more this year. Last year, JMU recorded 18 sacks and 60 tackles for loss. After not recording a sack in the opener, Madison now has 14 sacks and 37 total tackles for loss on the season. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Stanton leads the team with 3.5 sacks, while redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson leads with 8.0 tackles for loss.

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. He also was 20-for-28 for 201 yards and one touchdown for his second career 200-yard pass game. Most recently, Birdsong was 19-for-35 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and one interception at Delaware.

        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.

Birdsong Making His Aerial Mark: Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong etched his name in the record books with his performance 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.

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 nine catches for 105 yards with a long of 30. However, he missed part of the Akron game and the entire Saint Francis and Charlotte games due to an ankle injury. He returned in the CAA opener at Delaware, making four catches for 41 yards.

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.

Robertson CAA Defensive Player of the Week: Redshirt-senior lineback Stephon Robertson was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Sept. 23. It is the first time this season and third in his career he has earned the honor.

      Robertson racked up a team-high 12 tackles, including six solo, to pace a Dukes defense that held Charlotte to a single first-quarter score in Saturday's 34-7 win. CAA Football's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year would also force and recover a fumble that then led to a Dukes touchdown on the ensuing play. The win over the 49ers marked the fourth-straight game that Robertson led the team in tackles and his third with at least 10 tackles in 2013.

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 106 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 in August. Robertson was a first-team selection at linebacker, while Marlowe was on the second team at safety.

      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.

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.

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.

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 106-66 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.)  106-67        .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.

 

 

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