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Linebacker Stephon Robertson is the current FCS active career leader in tackles.Courtesy: Photography/JMU Athletics Communications
No. 23 Football To Host No. 19/22 Villanova For Homecoming Clash, Nov. 2
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:10/30/2013
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Homecoming Against the Wildcats On TV: James Madison will host its annual Homecoming contest, taking on the Villanova Wildcats today. The game is regionally televised on Comcast SportsNet Regional, with Mike Corey on play-by-play and Brad Jackson is the analyst.

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 108-68 record.

      Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley (Southern Connecticut, ’67) is in his 29th year of coaching the Wildcats, with a 202-124-1 mark, and 34th season overall, sporting a solid 230-142-2 record.

      The two matched up 15 times during their tenures, with Matthews and JMU holding a slim 8-7 advantage. In Harrisonburg under Matthews, the Dukes are 5-2 against the Wildcats, including the last meeting at Bridgeforth in 2011, a 34-10 Madison victory.

History With Villanova: This will be the 22nd time that James Madison and Villanova will meet on the gridiron, with JMU holding a slim 11-10 lead, including a 6-4 advantage at Bridgeforth Stadium. The series has favored JMU since 2004, with the Dukes having won six of the 10 meetings, but the Wildcats got the best of it last season at Villanova, taking a solid 35-20 victory.

Villanova

JMU leads 11-10

(Home 6-4, Away 5-6)

Date          Location       W/L       Score

11/13/93     Away              W           42- 3

10/15/94     Home             W          31-23

9/23/95        Away          W (ot)      28-27

11/16/96     Home              L           23-40

10/4/97        Away               L           17-49

9/19/98       Home              L           30-34

10/2/99        Away              W          23-20

10/7/00       Home             W          57-23

10/6/01        Away          L (2ot)     44-45

9/28/02       Home              L           26-30

10/4/03        Away               L           14-38

9/18/04        Away              W           17- 0

11/12/05     Home             W          28-13

11/11/06     Away               L           20-21

9/29/07       Home             W          35 - 7

10/25/08     Away              W          23-19

12/6/08       Home             W          31-27

10/17/09     Home              L             0-27

10/23/10     Away               L             7-14

10/15/11     Home             W          34-10

11/10/12     Away               L           20-35

                       Totals                     550-505

Robertson Garners CAA Weekly Honors: James Madison redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson was named Colonial Athletic Association Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his play at William & Mary, the league announced. It is the third time this year that Robertson has garnered the award as he shard this week’s award with Towson’s Telvion Clark.

        Robertson was everywhere in what was a career day for the senior standout. The Buck Buchanan Watch Lister turned in a game-high 15 tackles, including a career-high 5.0 for loss and a sack, to go with a forced fumble and a pass breakup as he paced a Dukes defense that held William & Mary to just 250 yards of total offense on Saturday. Robertson has now recorded double-digit tackles in six of JMU’s eight games this season and is tied for seventh in the program annals with 399 for his career.

Putting Points on the Board Early: James Madison got off to solid starts in six of its first eight games this year. In those  games, the Dukes punched the ball into the end zone on their first possession in five of the six 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. The Dukes converted Stephon Robertson’s interception for a field goal at Delaware. In the first CAA game at home, JMU went 78 yards in just four plays for the first touchdown of the game against UAlbany. The Dukes marched 83 yards in nine plays before sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong plunged in from one yard out. However, Madison was unable to put points on the board with the first drive at William & Mary last weekend.

Ranking High In the FCS Action: JMU finds itself among the leaders in the nation in various statistical categories in FCS play. Defensively, Madison ranks second in rushing defense at 93.8 yards per game, 12th in total defense at 315.4 yards per game, 15th in scoring defense at 20.8 points per game and 18th in sacks at 2.75 per contest.

      Individually, redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson is also first in the CAA and second nationally at 11.9 tackles a contest, while redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele is fifth in the league and 53rd in the nation at 9.1 tackles per contest.  Robertson is also first in the conference and seventh in the country at 1.7 tackles for loss per game.

      Offensively, redshirt-senior Dae’Quan Scott is fourth in the CAA and 26th nationally in rushing per game at 100.3 yards per game. He is also 27th in scoring at 8.3 points per game and 25th in all-purpose yards at 132.75. Sophomore Michael Birdsong is fourth in the league and 38th nationally at 222.8 passing yards per game and 31st in the FCS with 14 touchdown passes.

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 already surpassed that total with 22 sacks through eight games (tied for 18th nationally) and has added 58 total tackles for loss on the season. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Stanton and junior defensive end Sage Harold lead the team with 4.5 sacks each, while redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson leads with 13.5 tackles for loss.

Dukes After A Loss Under Matthews: In its 14-plus seasons under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews, James Madison has a 33-25 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 21-10 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 and then defeated UAlbany after the loss at Delaware Sept. 28.

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 52-24 conference mark and trail New Hampshire by two games. Overall JMU is 81-37 in that span, surpassed only by New Hampshire’s 85-36 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                         54-22            85-36

James Madison                         52-24            81-37

Villanova                                        44-33            70-47

Richmond                                      42-32            72-47

Delaware                                       40-36            71-47

Maine                                              40-36            58-53

William & Mary                            36-40            61-53

Towson                                           27-50            49-61

Rhode Island                              17-61            30-59

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

Albany                                           1-0            2013

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                                14-17-0        2013

Towson                                      18-5-1         2012

Villanova                                  11-10-0        2012

William & Mary                     20-16-0        2013

Totals                                      133-99-2     (.573)

Last Time Out - Dukes Unable To Capitalize In Loss at William & Mary:  Unable to convert three William & Mary turnovers into points, No. 16/19 James Madison lost a Colonial Athletic Association road contest at William and Mary, 17–7, at Zable Stadium on Saturday night.

        Down 10-7 with 7:43 remaining in the fourth quarter and facing a 3rd and 6 on William and Mary’s 31 yard-line, Michael Birdsong threw an interception that was returned 90-yards by Jared Velasquez for a touchdown to put the Tribe ahead, 17-7 and the Dukes couldn’t recover.

        Despite recovering three fumbles, including two in Tribe territory, the Dukes were unable to capitalize on good field position as they failed to score a single point off turnovers. JMU stalled on all three of their drives that started on William and Mary’s side of the field during the game.

        JMU’s defense limited William and Mary to just 251 yards of offense but allowed William and Mary to convert 7 out of 15 (47%) of their third down attempts while the Dukes struggled to convert on third down offensively, only going 5-for-17 (29%). (Complete recap on page 23.)

Last Year's Meeting - Villanova Gets Home Victory Over JMU: In a key Colonial Athletic Association football matchup, #9 James Madison got  off to a slow start that it could not overcome with a fourth-quarter rally in a 35-20 loss at #21 Villanova, Nov. 10, 2012.

        JMU could only manage 231 yards of offense on the day, including just 90 in the first half, while VU put up 455 total yards of offense, including 307 on the ground. The Dukes also struggled on third downs, going 4-for-12, while VU was 6-for-13 on third down opportunities.

        VU running back Kevin Monangai led all rushers with 150 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, while quarterback John Robertson had 21 carries for 61 yards and a pair of scores. Robertson was also 8-of-14 for 141 yards and a touchdown through the air.

        Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe was just 14-for-26 for 123 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while having 14 carries for 47 yards and one score. Redshirt junior running back Dae'Quan Scott was limited to 45 yards on 12 rushes. Sophomore safety Dean Marlowe led the Dukes with 11 tackles including seven solos, while redshirt junior linebacker Stephon Robertson had 10 tackles, two for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. (Complete recap on page 22.)

Robertson Showing His Excellence On Defense, Buchanan Award Next?: Redshirt-senior 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 six of the eight games this season. Recently, he posted a career-high 16 tackles with a career-best 4.5 tackles for loss and an interception at Delaware  Sept. 28 to earn CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors. Most recently, he picked up his third CAA Player of the Week accolade after 15 tackles, a career-best 5.0 tackles for 13 yards of loss, 1.0 sacks, one forced fumbles and a pass breakup at William & Mary. He currently leads the CAA and ranks second in FCS football at 11.9 tackles per game, while also leading the league and currently tied for seventh in tackles for loss at 1.7 per game.

      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 then 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 42 games played. He has amassed 399 career tackles, an average of 9.5 tackles per game, despite being targeted as a threat by every opposing offense. That ranks him first on the NCAA FCS active career chart  for total tackles and now tied for seventh on JMU’s all-time tackles list with Derick Pack (1999-2001). NFL standout Charles Haley (1982-85) is the all-time leader at 506. Robertson has 23 career games with double-digit tackles, including six of eight games this season.

      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.

Robertson's Current FCS National Active Player Career Ranks

Category                                    Rank             Total

Total Tackles                               1st               399

Total Solo Tackles                   t-1st              184

Total Assisted Tackles            1st               215

Tackles Per Game                    7th                9.5

Tackler For Loss/Game       t-23rd            0.96        (40.5 for career)

Solo Tackles For Loss             12th               29

Assisted Tackles For Loss   t-2nd              23

Steele Named To Jerry Rice Award Watch List: Redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele has been named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS this season, The Sports Network announced recently.

        A native of Front Royal, Va., Steele was just named the Sports Network National Freshman of the Week and Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week after posting a career-high 18 tackles, including 13 solo stops in a 40-13 win over UAlbany on Saturday. His 13 solo tackles tie the most by any JMU player since 1999 and the 18 total tackles are the highest single-game output in the CAA this season.

        Steele has started all eight games for the Dukes and currently ranks second on the team, tied for fifth in the CAA and 53rd in the nation at 9.1 tackles per contest, having recorded 73 total tackles, 28 solos, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sack and two forced fumbles. His 73 tackles are the tops among any of the initial award list candidates on the defensive side of the ball.

        The Jerry Rice Award, which honors the national freshman of the year in FCS, was first given in 2011 and is named after Division I-AA All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Jerry Rice, who played for Mississippi Valley State from 1980-1984.  The award is voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and others following the regular season and the winner will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16.

Robertson and Steele the CAA’s One-Two Defensive Punch: Redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson and redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele have not only given the JMU defense a 1-2 punch but are proving it in the league. Robertson currently leads the league at 11.9 tackles per game with Steele fifth at 9.1 stops a contest. Steele’s 18 tackles are a league season high, while Robertson now has 23 double-digit tackle games in his career after last week’s 15 stops at William & Mary.

Brown Shows His Catches Count: Redshirt-junior Daniel Brown has made his presence felt this season. After missing the opening game due to injury, Brown currently leads the Dukes  with 26 catches for 454 yards and five touchdowns. He currently  ranks fifth in the league and 74th nationally at 64.9 receiving yards per game. Against UAlbany, Brown had five catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns, with the three touchdown catches tying a school and stadium single-game record. 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.

Scott Eclipses Two Milestones: Redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott continues to churn out the yards and points in his final season at JMU. Against UAlbany, Scott had a pair of touchdowns against UAlbany and is now the Dukes’ all-time scoring leader at 246 points, passing kicker David Rabil (2003-06) at 231 points. The Staunton, Va., native also went over the 3,000-yard career rushing mark against the Great Danes, as he is currently at 3,094, career yards, currently eighth among active FCS players.

        For the season, Scott has 802 yards and seven rushing  touchdowns on 175 carries, with his 100.2 yards per game ranking fourth in the league and 28 th in FCS football. He also is 27th in scoring nationally at 8.3 points per game.

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 68-20 (.773) 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). This year the Dukes are already assured its 11th consecutive .500 or better season at home after the win over Albany and are currently 5-0 at Bridgeforth this year.

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. 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 fourth in the CAA and 28th nationally in rushing per game with 100.2 yards a contest. He also ranks in the top 30 in FCS football in scoring per game (27th, 8.3)  and all-purpose yards (25th, 132.75).

        Scott  became just the third rusher in school history to reach the 3,000-yard mark and is currently third at 3,094. He only trails 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 41. He also is now the all-time leader in career scoring with 246 points, just passing David Rabil (2003-06) at 231 points with his two touchdowns against UAlbany, Oct. 5. In addition, the Staunton, Va., native is currently tied for second in career rushing touchdowns with Landers at JMU with 31, just passing Curtis Keaton (1998-99) at 30. Quarterback Eriq Williams (1989-92) is the all-time leader with 32 rushing scores.

        Among the current FCS active career leaders, Scott is seventh in rushes (615), eighth in yards (3,094), seventh in total touchdowns (41), tied for eighth in rushing touchdowns (31) and 24th in gain per rush (5.0 ypr) and 21st in points per game (6.0).

 

Starke Moving Up the Charts: Senior kicker Cameron Starke is continuing to move up the career charts among JMU’s kickers: His 33 career field goals just passed former NFL kicker Scott Norwood (1978-81) and David Rabil (2003-06) for second all-time at 32. 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-30 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, as well as a 33-yarder at Delaware and last week at William & Mary. The miss at Delaware snapped a 12-consecutive field goal made streak of inside of 40 yards.

      He is also 91-of-95 in his career in point after attempts, giving him 190 career points at JMU, ranking eighth all-time just past Curtis Keaton (1998-99) and Rodney Landers (2005-08) at 186.  Among the FCS active career leaders, Starke is 12th in field goal percentage (75.0) and 24th in extra points made (90) and 25th in extra point attempts (95).

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                       8-11         72.7        1-1          3-3            1-3           3-4        0-0       45      1

Career                 33-44        75.0        2-2       12-13      11-14       8-14      0-1       49      1

Birdsong Made History at Quarterback: Sophomore Michael Birdsong came into camp as the starting signal caller and his overall performance in 2013 would do nothing to 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. Most recently, Birdsong was 18-for-28 for 249  yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against UAlbany. He currently ranks fourth in the CAA at 222.8 yards per game through the air and fifth in passing efficiency at 173.6.

        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 Was 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 10 catches for 126 yards with a long of 30. However, he missed part two and a half due to an ankle injury. He returned in the CAA opener at Delaware, making four catches for 41 yards.

      However, Smith moved over to defensive back for the Richmond game and has remainded there. In his two games on the defensive side, he has nine tackles (seven of them solo) and one pass breakup.

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, 14 players have had catches this season for the Dukes, just one shy of last year’s total.

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 directors, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries. After the ninth week of play, Madison is 23rd in the Coaches Poll and receiving votes in the The Sports Network Poll.

Simmons, Williams Garner CAA Player of the Week Awards: James Madison's Dejor Simmons and Kwe'shon Williams were honored as Colonial Athletic Association Football Players of the Week, the league announced Oct. 14. Simmons was recognized as the Special Teams Player of the Week, while Williams earned Rookie of the Week honors.

        A redshirt junior, Simmons finished with a career-high 141 yards on three kickoff returns in Saturday's 38-31 win over in-state rival Richmond. The junior highlighted his stellar play on the second half's opening kickoff, which he returned a conference- and school-record tying 100 yards for his second collegiate score. The 100-yard return was just the second such return in program history and the team's first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2008.

        Williams showed no signs of an injury that prevented him from playing the previous week, turning in a career day in JMU's win over the Spiders. The rookie finished with career highs with nine tackles, including four solo, and three pass breakups. Williams also came away with his third interception, which he returned 35 yards and that led to touchdown that gave the Dukes a 28-9 third-quarter advantage.

Arnone & Steele Earn CAA Weekly Honors, Steele Recognized Nationally: James Madison had two football players earn Colonial Athletic Association Football Player of the Week honors, as sophomore punter Conner Arnone was named Special Teams Player of the Week and redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele earned Rookie of the Week honors. It is the first league honor for both. In addition, Steele was named as The Sports Network Freshman of the Week for his play against UAlbany, the first national honor for the linebacker.

        Arnone had a stellar all-around day in the Dukes’ win over UAlbany, finishing with a 49.5-yard punt average on four punts that included a career-long 65-yarder. The sophomore also averaged 60.8 yards on eight kickoffs that featured three touchbacks in a special teams effort that forced the Great Danes to on average begin drives from their 27-yard line.

        Steele broke open for a career day against the Great Danes, turning in an 18-tackle effort that leads the league through the opening six weeks of the season. The rookie racked up 13 solo stops and one sack in JMU’s dominant win, with four of his tackles ending Dane drives. His 18 tackles are the first 18-plus game since Justin Barnes had 19 against New Hampshire in 2007, while the 13 solos tie the highest since 1999 along with Pat Williams (vs. Towson in 2009) and Akeem Jordan (vs. Appalachian State in 2006). Steele’s showing highlighted a defensive unit that held UAlbany to just 81 rushing yards and five of 19 third-down conversions on Saturday.

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 - #25) 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.

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.

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.

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 24th on the FCS career active victories list with 108 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.

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 108-67 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.)  108-68        .614             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            5-3               2-2

Totals     108-68        70-49

 

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).

Former Duke Haley Enshrined in College Football Hall of Fame: Former James Madison football All-American Charles Haley was enshrined in the College Football Hall Of Fame, July 15-16, 2011 in South Bend, Ind.  He was the first ever player from a CAA school and sixth person overall (five previous were coaches) to be elected to the Hall.

        Haley was a four year starter at JMU from 1982-85.  He was a two-time All-American and a three-time Defensive MVP at Madison. As a senior at JMU, Haley was voted a 1985 Associated Press First-Team I-AA All-American and both the Richmond Touchdown Club and Roanoke Times & World News’ State Defensive Player of the Year.  He leads JMU’s all-time tackles list with 506, including three seasons of more than 100 tackles, and his 22 tackles at Shippensburg during the 1983 season still ranks as the eighth-highest single-game total in JMU history.  He also added three interceptions and 17 quarterback sacks to his total.

        In 1986, after his senior season Haley was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, as he was the No. 96 pick overall, the highest ever in school history. The first ever JMU player to be drafted into the NFL, Haley went on to become the only player in the league’s history to win five Super Bowls, two with the 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys. He was also selected to five Pro Bowls during his career, as well as being a two-time First-Team All-Pro and 1990 NFC Defensive Player of the Year.  He finished his professional career with 100.5 sacks, including a career-high 16 in 1990.  He had eight fumble recoveries and scored one touchdown in the NFL. He retired in 1999 before becoming an assistant coach for the Detroit Lions.

 

Dukes in the Show: JMU is well represented in the NFL on the 2013 rosters entering the season. The Dukes have three former players that were on opening day rosters for the 2013 season. Linebacker Akeem Jordan spent his first six years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and is starting this season at linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Starting his fourth season in the NFL is former defensive end turned linebacker Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills), who is currently the starter at outside linebacker. Additionally, rookie offensive lineman Earl Watford is with the Arizona Cardinals. Former defensive end D.J. Bryant was on the practice squad with last year's World Champion Baltimore Ravens and opened the year on injured reserve for the Super Bowl champions.

        In addition to the former Dukes currently active with professional football organizations, JMU's leading all-time performers include several other players who have enjoyed success in the NFL - placekicker Scott Norwood (1978-81), wide receiver Gary Clark (1980-83), defensive end Charles Haley (1982-85), linebacker Dion Foxx (1990-93), wide receiver Macey Brooks (1993-96), running back Curtis Keaton (1998-99), tight end Ed Perry (1993-96) and return specialist Delvin Joyce (1997-2000).

        Norwood received All-Pro honors as a placekicker with the Buffalo Bills. Clark was All-Pro with the Washington Redskins and a member of two Super Bowl title teams and later played with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.  He was selected in the first round of the first United States Football League draft in 1984.

        Haley was the first player to be a member of five Super Bowl title teams while playing with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.  He was the first Duke to be a first-team Division I-AA All-America and the first Duke chosen in the NFL draft (San Francisco, 1986, fourth round).  He is JMU's career tackles leader.

        Foxx played with the Miami Dolphins. Brooks was with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.

        Keaton was with the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints after being the 1999 Atlantic 10 offensive player of the year when he ran for 1,719 yards and 20 touchdowns.

        Perry was a tight end and long snapper with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs after being Miami's sixth-round 1997 draft pick and first-team All-Yankee Football Conference during each of his final three collegiate seasons.

        Joyce was a return specialist for the New York Giants and New York Jets.  He ended his career at JMU as the only player in Division I-AA history with 1,000 yards in each of the career statistical categories of rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns and as the all-time Division I-AA leader in punt return yards and combined kick return yards.  He holds many of JMU's career kick return marks and is the program's all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 5,659.

    Two other former Dukes saw extensive time during the 2007 preseason with NFL teams, including tailback Alvin Banks (2003-06) with the New York Jets and offensive lineman Corey Davis (2003-06) with the Buffalo Bills.  Justin Rascati, JMU's starting quarterback from 2004-06, briefly was with the Chicago Bears. Former tight end Mike Caussin spent time with Buffalo Bills (active) and Jacksonville Jaguars (practice squad) last season. 

 

 

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