HARRISONBURG, Va. – The James Madison University football squad wrapped up its first week of spring drills in pads on Friday. Head Coach Mickey Matthews shared some of his thoughts and some updated information following Friday’s workout, as the Dukes had two helmet-only practices last week followed by three workouts in pads this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“I think we have been giving really good effort this week in pads,” Matthews said. “Today we were ragged but I still thought our energy and effort were high. We are only five practices into our new offensive scheme under Coach (Mike) O’Cain, but we are doing some good things there as well. We are getting things accomplished, and I look to get even more out of them next week.”
Matthews also updated some various positions as well as provided his feedback on some players showing solid performances in the early workouts. The one negative development occurred on the opening day of practice this week as redshirt-junior offensive tackle Austin Lane suffered a season-ending knee injury on Wednesday in a fluke incident. Due to the injury, redshirt-junior Matt Cunningham was shifted back out to left tackle and redshirt-senior Scott Jones is back at left guard. Additionally, redshirt-sophomore quarterback Lafonte Thourogood has developed a sore shoulder, so, with JMU down to just one quarterback, redshirt-senior Quintin Hunter has spent his time at quarterback this spring, the first time he has played the position in three years.
Matthews praised Hunter’s efforts in making the adjustment and commented about him playing fairly well the last two days. Also on the offensive side of the ball, redshirt-sophomore running back Deane Cheatham was the highlight of Wednesday’s practice with several of his runs. The head coach also talked about redshirt-junior wide receiver Anthony Rose making some nice catches, redshirt-freshman Ian Fisher adapting to playing tight end fairly well and making some plays, as well as sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong making some solid passes. Defensively, redshirt-junior Jeremiah Wilson has shifted from cornerback to safety and is picking up the position well, while redshirt-freshman Taylor Reynolds is playing cornerback for the Dukes in spring and has transitioned to the defensive side of the ball well so far, in the coach’s opinion.
The Dukes will go this week starting on Wednesday, with an expected scrimmage on Saturday in Bridgeforth Stadium.