Continuing the Homestand With Today's Game Against Maine: The James Madison football squad continues a rare three-game homestand by hosting the Maine Black Bears today at the renovated and expanded Bridgeforth Stadium. The Dukes opened the three games with a 31-7 victory over #10 Richmond, Oct. 1, and will conclude it hosting Villanova, Oct. 15. This will be a battle between two of the remaining four undefeated teams in CAA play. However, the Dukes are the only team with two wins in league action to date.
The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, '76) is in his 13th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with an 92-57 record.
Maine Head Coach Jack Cosgrove (Maine, '78) is in his 19th as head coach of his alma mater and overall, sporting a 100-109 record.
History With Maine: Today's contest is the 15th meeting in the history between the Dukes and Black Bears, with Madison holding a decisive 10-4 advantage, including a 5-1 record at Bridgeforth Stadium. This is the 11th time that JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews has gone against Maine, having posted a 6-4 mark overall and 3-1 at Bridgeforth. JMU has taken the last five meetings between the two squads with two of those in Harrisonburg. Last time the two met at JMU, the Dukes walked away with a 22-14 win in 2009, while last year's meeting resulted in a dramatic 14-10 road victory for JMU.
Maine -- JMU leads 10-4
(Home 5-1, Away 5-3)
Year Location W/L Score
9/30/95 Away W 21-17
10/5/96 Home W 31-7
9/27/97 Away W 24-22
10/24/98 Home W 34-28
11/6/99 Away L 20-26
11/4/00 Home W 22-7
9/29/01 Away L 3-13
10/5/02 Home L 6-17
10/25/03 Away L 13-20
10/16/04 Away W 24-20
10/8/05 Home W 38-2
9/27/08 Away W 24-10
11/7/09 Home W 22-14
11/20/10 Away W 14-10
Moving Up in the Rankings: JMU has found itself on a steady climb in the polls back into the top 10 nationally, thanks especially to three straight victories over top-25 squads, including two on the road. Following the season-opening loss at North Carolina, Madison was ranked 17th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 19th in the Fathead.com/SportsNetwork.com Poll. Since then, the Dukes have reeled off four straight wins and climbed to No. 6 in the Coaches Poll and No. 7 in the Sports Network Poll.
JMU Against Ranked Teams: In its FCS history, Madison has a 53-64-1 record against ranked opponents. Since taking over in 1999, Head Coach Mickey Matthews has coached in a majority of those games, posting a 35-28 record against ranked teams. Overall against a ranked Maine squad, the teams have split the two meetings, with UM winning at JMU in 2002, 17-6, but the Dukes getting a 24-20 victory at Maine in 2004.
JMU is coming off three straight wins over top-25 teams on consecutive weekends for the first time since the 2004 season, when the Dukes won four straight road games to win the National Championship. Otherwise, this is the first time in school history during the regular season that JMU has posted three straight wins in consecutive weeks over ranked opponents and is going for No. 4 this week when it hosts #19 Maine at Bridgeforth.
Pat Williams Recognized With League's Weekly Defensive Honor: Redshirt-senior linebacker Pat Williams earned Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week honors, the league announced this past Monday. It was the first time he has won the weekly honor and the second straight week that a Madison player has gotten the honor, as redshirt-sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson won the award last week.
Williams, a leader for the James Madison defense, garnered CAA Football Defensive Player of the Week honors after the Dukes beat Richmond, 31-7, in Harrisonburg Saturday, the first home win over the Spiders since 2003. The senior linebacker recorded a team-high eight total tackles for a defense which limited the Spiders, who averaged nearly 380 yards/game on offense entering the contest, to -12 yards rushing and just 118 total yards. James Madison's defense forced two turnovers and sacked Richmond quarterback Aaron Corp seven times for a loss of 47 yards in the game.
Defense Makes A Statement In Squishing the Spiders: After starting to find itself two weeks ago at #5 William & Mary, the JMU defense made a major impact in the win over #10 Richmond, Oct. 1. Madison held the Spiders, who were averaging almost 380 yards of offense and more than 30 points per game, to just 118 yards, including -12 yards of rushing. The Dukes also recorded a team season-high seven sacks, the most since Oct. 31, 2009 when JMU had eight at Delaware. In fact, other than starting UR's one scoring drive at the JMU 3 due to the blocked punt, the Spiders never made it to the red zone, with the closest being the JMU 37. Also of the 13 normal drives that Richmond had, seven were three-and-outs with two others ending on turnovers.
Against FCS, Defense Showing It Has What It Takes: The JMU defense has continued to show its ability to make an impact on a game, especially against FCS opponents. On the scoreboard, Madison has outscored its opponents 92-54, giving up just 13.5 points per game, including just 10 total points in the first half of the four contests. The Dukes are giving up just 61.2 rushing yards per game, just 257.0 total yards per game and a 38 percent third-down conversion rate (22-of-58). JMU has got six takeaways and has posted 14 sacks and 30 total tackles for loss in those four contests, all wins.
Last Time The Two Teams Met -Dropping An Overtime Thriller: James Madison's defense kept Maine out of the end zone for all but the game's initial series, including stopping the hosts on a play from the three-yard line to end the contest, to lead the Dukes to a 14-10 victory in the season-finale for both football teams.
Maine pulled to within 14-10 early during the final quarter and ran 16 plays during the closing possession before JMU stopped a Black Bear receiver as time expired. The victory gave JMU its seventh-consecutive winning season and its eighth-straight year with a .500 or better record.
The Bears, with quarterback Warren Smith completing eight passes, reached JMU's 15-yard line with less than a minute to play after starting the series from their 32. Smith then scrambled for nine yards to the JMU 6 on third and 10 and hit running back Pushaun Brown with a pass to the 3-yard line for a first down with 17.3 seconds left.
JMU sophomore linebacker Chad Byers stopped Smith on a keeper at the three with 12.4 seconds left on the following play, and Maine took its final timeout. Smith then hit wide receiver Jeff Falvey with a pass in the right flat, but JMU junior safety Jonathon Williams and junior cornerback Taveion Cuffee stopped the receiver for no gain.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback/wide receiver Dae'Quan Scott ran for 61 yards and redshirt-senior running back Jamal Sullivan for 60 for JMU, and redshirt-senior quarterback Drew Dudzik hit on 5-of-6 passes for 30 yards. Sullivan raised his career rushing yards total to 1,556, finishing No. 16 on JMU's all-time rushing list.
The Dukes had 204 yards of total offense (140 rushing, 64 passing) and Maine posted 281 yards (163 rushing, 118 passing). Smith hit on 23-of-38 passes for 108 yards for the Bears. (Full recap on page 23).
Last Time Out - It Was Good To Be Home(coming): Fueled by 297 yards rushing and seven quarterback sacks from its defense the James Madison football team powered past the University of Richmond 31-7 at Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday. JMU won its fourth straight game.
JMU running backs combined to average 5.5 yards per carry, gaining 297 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries. Redshirt sophomore running back Jordan Anderson rushed for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Redshirt freshman Jauan Latney added 98 yards and a touchdown on 19 rushes.
After Richmond struck for the game's first score after a blocked punt, the Dukes reeled off 31 unanswered points in the final three quarters, starting with an 11-play, 62-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock. Latney finished the drive with a five-yard scoring run and sophomore kicker Cameron Starke's extra point split the uprights to tie the game at seven at the 12:29 mark in the second quarter.
Freshman defensive end Sage Harold finished the day with two and a half sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to lead the defense. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Lamar Middleton added two tackles for loss, including a sack while redshirt senior linebacker Pat Williams had a team-high eight tackles. Collectively, JMU limited the Spiders to -12 yards rushing on 25 carries.
In his first start at quarterback, redshirt-junior quarterback Jace Edwards went 5-for-12 for 34 yards, adding 11 yards rushing and a touchdown. Redshirt-junior tight end Brian Barlow led the team with two catches for 22 yards.
UR quarterback Aaron Corp finished his day 16-for-31 for 130 yards. Tre Gray picked up 38 yards receiving on four catches while running back Kendall Gaskins was limited to 22 yards on nine carries. (Full recap on page 22).
Anderson Runs Wild On the Spiders: Redshirt-sophomore Jordan Anderson took advantage of his opportunity in the win over #10 Richmond Oct. 1. Helping fill the role of the injured Dae'Quan Scott, Anderson had 13 carries for career-highs of 162 yards and two touchdowns. His first two collegiate touchdown runs were of 45 and 49 yards were the two longest carries of the season for the Dukes and the two longest of his career. The 162 yards were also the most by a JMU player since quarterback Rodney Landers had 166 yards in the NCAA Playoffs against Wofford in 2008 and the most for a running back since Antoinne Bolton had 172 yards and two scores on 19 carries against Delaware in 2007.
Starke Splitting the Uprights: Redshirt-sophomore kicker Cameron Starke has shown he knows how to put the ball between the goal posts so far this season. After missing his first field goal attempt at JMU in the game at North Carolina, Starke has connected on six consecutive field goals, including the career-long 40-yard game-winner at #20 Liberty, Sept. 17, and both field goals in a road victory at #5 William & Mary, Sept. 24. He hit a new career long of 44 yards in the victory over Richmond, Oct. 1. He also has been perfect on point after attempts, hitting all 12 tries.
Robertson In On the Tackle: That is a phrase that has become very familiar to the Dukes when it comes to redshirt-sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson. Last year, he was the second leading tackler for JMU with 90 total tackles (9.0 per game), including a career-best 13 tackles each at Virginia Tech, against Liberty and at Towson, earning him CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
This season, he picked back up where he left off, posting a team-best eight tackles at North Carolina, Sept. 3, leading the team with a career-high 14 tackles in the home opening win over Central Connecticut State, Sept. 10, and also having a team-high nine tackles in the victory at Liberty, Sept. 17. He also earned the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after recording six tackles and a key forced fumble that led to the game-winning touchdown at William & Mary, Sept. 24. He currently leads the Dukes and is tied for 17th in the CAA at 8.0 tackles per game
Close Battles: JMU was in battles throughout the 2010 season. Of the 11 games last season, nine of them were decided by seven points or less, with the Dukes posting a 5-4 mark in those games, including just a 3-4 record in CAA games. One of those tight games was the 10-3 victory over Liberty in Bridgeforth Stadium.
This year, the Dukes have already been involved in three games decided by seven points or less, with JMU earning victories in all three, with an average margin of victory of 4.7 points.
James Madison Football On TV: The Dukes will be on television six times this year, with two of them at the friendly confines of Bridgeforth Stadium. The first was the season opener at FBS North Carolina, Sept. 3 as part of the ACC Television package along with ESPN3, followed by the Sept. 17 contest at Liberty, with that televised on the Flames Television Network and ESPN3. The Dukes' CAA opener at William & Mary was the first of four conference contests involving JMU being broadcast. The first two league games at the renovated Bridgeforth Stadium are also being broadcast as Madison hosted Richmond on Oct. 1 and hosts Maine on Oct. 8. The final regular season television game slated is the Oct. 29 contest at CAA-newcomer Old Dominion. The Dukes are currently 3-1 on TV this year and 3-0 in FCS contests.
This Was the Largest in Bridgeforth: There is no question that attendance records will continue to fall at JMU's renovated and expanded Bridgeforth Stadium. Sept. 10's crowd for the home opener against Central Connecticut State was the largest in Bridgeforth Stadium history with an attendance of 25,102. Then for the sold-out Homecoming game, the attendance was 25,742, setting a second record this year. Both totals surpassed the previous high of 17,163 when JMU posted a dramatic 35-32 come-from-behind win over Appalachian State on Sept. 20, 2008. In fact, all five games this season have already surpassed the previous high and one more is already a sellout as the Family Weekend tilt with Villanova on Oct. 15 already has been sold out of single-game tickets.
Former Duke Haley Named FCS Ambassador: Charles Haley, a former James Madison University student-athlete and the only NFL player to win five Super Bowls, was named as the FCS Ambassador for the 2012 NCAA Division I Football Championship. Haley is the third ambassador of the football championship, following Wayne Chrebet (Hofstra) in 2009 and Everson Walls (Grambling State) in 2010.
"Charles Haley's successful collegiate and professional career provides a quintessential model of academic and athletic success," said Damani Leech, NCAA director for Division I football and baseball. "Each year we have looked for an individual who embodies the character of the FCS and can be used as a success story for the FCS student-athletes. We are thrilled that Charles will continue this tradition."
As ambassador, Haley will lend his support to the championship game in a number of ways, including pre-game interaction with fans, serving as an instructor at a youth clinic, performing the pre-game coin toss and participating in the postgame awards ceremony.
"I'm honored to serve as FCS Ambassador for the 2012 Division I Football Championship game," Haley said. "Greatness is not born, it's made. The FCS has been turning out great players for years and I look forward to watching these outstanding student-athletes compete at the highest level."
A 2011 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Haley graduated from James Madison in 1988 with a bachelor's in social science. A four-year starter under head coach Challace McMillin, Haley became the first Dukes selected as a First-Team All-American in 1985, and was also the school's first NFL draftee. Haley, whose jersey number 87 was retired by the school, finished his JMU career with a school record 506 tackles, three interceptions and 17 quarterback sacks. In his 12 NFL seasons, Haley recorded 100.5 quarterback sacks, two interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. He was selected to play in five Pro Bowls (1988, 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1995) and was named NFL All-Pro in 1990 and 1994. This November, he will be inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
The 2012 NCAA Division I Football Championship game will be played on Saturday, Jan. 7, at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
Scott Goes Over the Century Mark Again: Redshirt-sophomore Dae'Quan Scott posted his third-straight and fourth career 100-yard rushing game with 26 rushes for 112 yards and one touchdown in the thrilling win over #5 William & Mary, Sept. 24. In the game before, he had a career-high 29 carries for 126 yards and a career-best tying three touchdowns in the last-second victory at #20 Liberty, Sept. 17. In the prior game, he had 20 carries for a career-high 138 yards and one touchdown in the win over Central Connecticut State, Sept. 10. However, the streak ended against Richmond, Oct. 1, as Scott left with a shoulder injury after a fourth-down conversion carry, departing with just 23 yards on eight carries.
Scott picked up his first in a 2010 upset win of then-No. 1 William & Mary in Harrisonburg. The then-redshirt-freshman replaced senior Drew Dudzik at quarterback and garnered 125 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, earning CAA Rookie of the Week honors. The Staunton, Va. native also has played receiver in nine contests last year, having made 16 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown.
Scott currently leads JMU and ranks sixth in the CAA and 41st nationally at 84.20 yards per game, while being tied for 10th in scoring in the league at 6.00 points per game.
Long Getting Involved: In the win at #20 Liberty, redshirt-senior wide receiver Kerby Long was a key part of the action. Long had a career-best six catches for 61 yards in the contest, with none more important than his final grab. On the final drive on a 3rd-and-4 from the Dukes' 31, Thorpe connected with Long for a 32-yard reception, getting the ball to the LU 37 and setting up the eventual game-winning field goal.
Long had a key catch in the victory at #5 William & Mary Sept. 24, grabbing a 52-yard touchdown catch for the first score of the game. He currently leads Madison with 134 receiving yards and one touchdown on nine catches.
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 12-plus years at the helm, JMU has a 55-18 (.757) 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 3-3 at home, its eighth-straight .500 or better season at home.
Matthews' JMU Home Mark
Year Overall Conf.
1999 5-0 4-0
2000 6-0 4-0
2001 1-4 0-4
2002 3-4 2-3
2003 5-1 3-1
2004 5-1 3-1
2005 5-1 3-1
2006 5-0 4-0
2007 5-1 3-1
2008 8-1 4-0
2009 3-2 2-2
2010 3-3 1-3
2011 2-0 1-0
Totals 56-18 34-16
All-Time Versus the CAA: For the last seven-plus seasons, there has not been a better team in league action in the Colonial Athletic Association than James Madison. During that time span, the Dukes have put together a 41-16 conference mark, one game better than New Hampshire, the next team in the rankings. Overall JMU is 63-26 in that span, surpassed only by New Hampshire's 66-23 mark.
CAA Records 2004-Pres. Conf. Overall
James Madison 41-16 63-26
New Hampshire 39-17 66-23
Richmond 36-21 60-29
Massachusetts 32-17 49-25
Villanova 34-24 52-33
William & Mary 31-26 49-35
Delaware 30-27 54-37
Maine 27-30 40-42
Hofstra* 18-30 31-37
Northeastern* 16-32 20-47
Rhode Island 13-43 24-56
Towson 11-46 27-54
NOTE: During this time period until the 2010 season, CAA teams each season played each of five other teams in their division and three of the six teams in the other division for an eight-game league slate. With the dropping of football by two CAA schools prior to 2010 (Hofstra and Northeastern*), the league eliminated the divisions and are one unified standings.
JMU vs. CAA Teams (* Former league teams)
Opponent Overall Met
Boston University* 5-1-0 1997
Connecticut* 4-1-0 1999
Delaware 8-12-0 2010
Hofstra* 6-3-0 2009
Maine 10-4-0 2010
Massachusetts 6-8-1 2010
New Hampshire 7-6-0 2010
Northeastern* 12-8-0 2007
Rhode Island 6-3-0 2007
Richmond 13-16-0 2011
Towson 17-5-1 2010
Villanova 10-9-0 2010
William & Mary 19-15-0 2011
Matthews The Winningest: Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) became JMU's winningest football coach Sept. 27, 2008 in a 24-10 victory at Maine. The win gave the then-10th-year Dukes coach a 68-45 JMU record, which is now at 92-57 overall, which currently ranks 12th among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and 25th in victories.
Challace McMillin (1972-84), JMU's first football coach, had a 67-56-1 record during 13 JMU seasons and held the program's previous coaching victories record. McMillin has retired as a JMU kinesiology teaching staff member, but he continues to work with JMU athletic teams in a sports psychology role. He was with the team at Maine for a special team presentation to Matthews in recognition of the coach's accomplishment.
JMU'S COACHING RECORDS
Coach (Years) W-L Pct. NCAA
Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) 92-57 .617 5
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 and 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 4-1 2-0
Totals 92-57 60-41
Robertson Earns CAA Defensive Weekly Honor: Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced this past Monday.
Robertson garnered CAA Football Defensive Player of the Week honors after leading James Madison to a 20-14 win on the road against No. 6 William & Mary. Robertson finished the contest with six stops including one for a loss of a yard. He also forced a fumble late in the third quarter inside of William & Mary territory which led to a JMU touchdown. James Madison's defense, led by Robertson, held the Tribe to just three first-half first downs and only 64 yards of offense over the first 30 minutes of action.
And Bridgeforth Is Larger: Sept. 10, 2011 marked the first game in the renovated Bridgeforth Stadium with a new capacity of 24,877. In the Phase I renovations completed for the 2010 season, there was a new seating area on the West side of the stadium that included seating with a chairback club section, new concessions and bathrooms, ticket booths and a team store.
Following the final 2010 home game, the temporary bleachers came down in the end zone. Then construction began on Phase 2, which includes the completion of the club room, an upper deck with new press box, suites, elevators, stadium graphics, the wraparound of seats to the north end zone and a new 60'x24' videoboard and sound system above the Plecker Athletic Performance Center.
Dukes' Pair Earns CAA Player of the Week Honors: JMU redshirt-sophomores Dae'Quan Scott and Cameron Starke were named Colonial Athletic Association Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, for their play in the thrilling win at #20 Liberty, Sept. 17, the league announced today.
Scott earned CAA Football Offensive Player of the Week honors after posting his second-straight 100-yard rushing game and leading JMU to a 27-24 win on the road against nationally-ranked Liberty. The sophomore carried the ball a career-high 29 times for 126 yards including a career-best tying three touchdowns. Scott also corralled three receptions for 22 yards in the win. This is the second time in his career he has earned the weekly honor.
Starke, thanks to a game-winning 40-yard field goal, picked up CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The sophomore finished James Madison's 27-24 win on the road at No. 22 Liberty perfect in both PAT's (3-for-3) and field goals, including a 32-yarder in the second quarter and the 40-yarder as time expired to win the contest. Starke's 40-yard effort marked the longest field goal made by a Duke since 2009 when Dixon Wright hit a 45-yard attempt against Towson.
Starke Picks Up National Award: Redshirt-sophomore kicker Cameron Starke picked up his second award of the week, as he was named the College Sporting News Special Teams National All-Star for his play in the thrilling win at #20 Liberty, Sept. 17.
Starke garnered the awards after going 3-for-3 on PATs and hitting both field goal attempts, including the 40-yard game-winner as time expired. In James Madison's 27-24 win on the road at No. 22 Liberty, Starke also hit a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. Starke's 40-yard effort marked the longest field goal made by a Duke since 2009 when Dixon Wright hit a 45-yard attempt against Towson. It was also the first game-winning field goal since Dave Wantuck hit one in 2005 at William & Mary.
Oh Captain, My Captains: The Dukes voted and elected six captains for the 2011 season, with four seniors and two juniors. From the offensive side of the ball, senior Roane Babington and juniors Justin Thorpe and Brian Barlow were voted as captains, while the defensive captains are seniors Vidal Nelson, D.J. Bryant and Pat Williams. All but Nelson are first-year captains, as Nelson was the only junior captain on the 2010 squad.
Matthews Calling the Plays: Head Coach Mickey Matthews has taken over the primary play calling duties on offense this season. As part of the shift in alignment, Matthews will also coach the quarterbacks, while Jeff Durden remains as the offensive coordinator and is working with the tight ends.
Can It BE Any Tougher?: JMU sported one of the toughest schedules in FCS football, with the eighth-ranked schedule in FCS Football, according to the 2010 NCAA final statistics, with five of the top eight spots occupied by Colonial Athletic Association squads.
This year, the Dukes were one of six Colonial Athletic Association squads picked among the top 25 in The Sports Network/Fathead.com Preseason Poll and 10 total squads receiving votes. Defending CAA champion William & Mary was picked third, followed by Delaware in fifth. New Hampshire earned the 10th spot in the poll with Villanova at 14th and JMU at 15th. Richmond comes in at 16th, with Massachusetts rounding out the top 25 teams at 25. Among those also receiving votes in the Sports Network/Fathead.com poll are Rhode Island, Maine and Old Dominion. CAA Football has had a national finalist in each of the past five seasons and seven of the last eight, including national champions Delaware (2003), James Madison (2004), Richmond (2008) and Villanova (2009) with national finalist Delaware last year.
In addition to five games scheduled against CAA opponents in the preseason top 25 teams nationally and three other CAA foes receiving votes, the Dukes also play Preseason-Big South Conference favorite and four-time defending league champion Liberty in Lynchburg, Sept. 17. The Dukes also play Central Connecticut State in the home opener Sept. 10, as the Blue Devils are the preseason Northeast Conference favorite and were among the teams receiving votes in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches Poll. The season opener pits the Dukes against FBS North Carolina, who is receiving votes in the USA Today Preseason Poll. That gives the Dukes all 11 of its games against opponents ranked in the top 25 or receiving votes nationally in their respective preseason polls.
According to the NCAA records over the last seven years, JMU has had a schedule ranking as one of the top 10 toughest schedules nationally four times, including the top schedule in 2008 and the eighth-toughest slate last year.
JMU Football History: The 2011 season is JMU's 40th season of football, its 38th varsity football season, its 33rd season with football scholarship players and its 32nd season competing at what is now the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, formerly Division I-AA.
JMU began football in 1972, moved to a recognized varsity schedule in 1974, first awarded scholarships for the 1979 season and moved to Division I-AA in 1980. JMU moved from Division III to Division II in 1979 and to then-Division I-AA for the 1980 season.
JMU's top seasons in addition to winning the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA championship (13-2) have been in 2008 when the Dukes reached the FCS semifinals as the playoffs' top-seeded team and compiled a 12-2 record, 2007 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 2006 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1999 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1995 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1994 (10-3, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1991 (9-4, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1987 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1982 (8-3), 1978 (8-2, No. 9, Division III), and 1975 (9-0-1, College Division).
Conference Openers Have Had Success: Madison has made it a habit to get off to a good start in conference action, sporting a 13-6 record in league openers since 1993, including a stellar 10-3 mark under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews. The Dukes are 5-3 on the road in conference starters and 3-2 under Matthews away from home in league firsts. The only conference opener losses Matthews has had were on the road in 2001 (26-19 at UNH), 2009 (24-17 at Hofstra) and 2010 against Delaware (13-10).
Conference Opener Records in I-AA/FCS: Rip Scherer -- 0-2; Alex Wood -- 3-1; Mickey Matthews -- 10-3
Balanced Attack at Liberty: JMU put together one of its most balanced efforts on offense over the last two seasons, in the thrilling win at #20 Liberty, Sept. 17. The Dukes tallied 173 yards on the ground and 141 yards through the air. Of Madison's 17 first downs, 10 of them came on the ground, five through the air and two by penalty (both of those occurring on passing plays).
Getting It Going on the Ground: JMU rushed for 342 yards in the home opener against Central Connecticut State. It marked the first 300-yard rushing game for the Dukes since they rushed for 301 yards in a rain-soaked 24-10 win at No. 21 Liberty, Sept. 26, 2009. It is also the most since Madison rushed for 343 yards in the 2008 playoff game at home against Wofford.
Season Tickets Going Extremely Well: Tickets have been a hot commodity for the 2011 season inside the renovated Bridgeforth Stadium. As of Sept. 20, there have been 7,478 season tickets sold, more than 2,000 ahead of last year's record total of 5,128 and more than this year's preseason goal of 6,650 season tickets.
In regards to the Club Level seating, 778 club seats have been sold already, surpassing the goal of 650. Seats are still available for the Club Level, which features wider chairback seating with more leg room and a cup holder and includes gourmet food and beverages in the 8,000-square foot Club room.
Youngsters Seeing Action: In JMU's opener at North Carolina on Sept. 3, the Dukes had a large group of youngsters seeing their first collegiate action. Madison had 11 players play their first games of their career, including true freshmen Sage Harold and DeAndre' Smith.
Calling FedEx For the Dukes in 2012: James Madison will find its way to the nation's capital on Sept. 15, 2012, as the Dukes will take on West Virginia at FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins. This will be the first time that JMU has played in one of the NFL's top facilities. It will be the second-ever meeting between the Dukes and Mountaineers, as the Dukes fell to the Mountaineers, 45-10, in Morgantown, W.Va., on Sept. 25, 2004. JMU eventually won the next six consecutive games and posted a 13-2 mark that season en route to the I-AA National Title, while the Mountaineers finished with an 8-4 record that season.
Dukes in the Show: JMU is well represented in the NFL on the 2011 rosters entering the season. The Dukes have two former players that are on opening rosters for the 2011 season. Linebacker Akeem Jordan has spent his first four years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting his second season in the NFL is former defensive end turned linebacker Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills). Former tight end Mike Caussin (Buffalo Bills) is on the practice squad to open the season.
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 in South Bend, Ind. He becomes 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.
Former JMU Standouts: In addition to the former Dukes recently 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.