After starting off the season on the road against Cal, the Terps will head back home to the newly renovated Byrd Stadium for their home opener against the James Madison Dukes, members of the Division I Championship Subdivision (formally 1-AA). JMU made it to the semi-finals of the D1 subdivision playoffs and compiled a 12-2 record (including the playoffs) last season, but expect the Dukes to be a completely different team this year. If this was last season, I'd be a little worried playing the Dukes, but they have some big losses on their roster following last season. Although the Dukes dominated the regular season, losing just one game, the game they did lose was to ACC rival Duke. Even though Duke was a much improved team in 2008, they’re still Duke and if Duke can beat the Dukes even when they have a good team by a score of 31-7, the Terps should have no problem handling them. But remember, no one expected the Terps to win by just 7 and score just 14 points against JMU’s fellow subdivision team member
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The inside scoop on the JMU Dukes
The Dukes return 13 starters from last season (7 on offense and 6 on defense) on a team that went undefeated in conference play while compiling a 12-2 record during the regular and post season. The Dukes lost standout quarterback Rodney Landers to graduation and will look to start redshirt junior Drew Dudzik at QB this season. Dudzik saw some action at QB last season and will be competing with redshirt freshman QB Justin Thorpe for the starting job and playing time. The loss of Landers is huge for JMU, as the senior rushed for 16 touchdowns and racked up almost 1,800 yards on the ground. In the air, he threw for over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. Not a bad season. But apparently, even with his great ability to play QB, RB, or even defensive end and wide receiver, no one in the NFL thought very highly of Landers as he went undrafted and hasn’t even signed as a free agent with a team at this point. The Dukes also lost tailback Eugene Holloman, who scored 9 TDs and racked up over 1,000 rushing yards last year. That means the Dukes lost 46 of their total 65
offensive touchdowns from last season, which is 70% of their offense from last season.
The Dukes’ strength seems to be on the defensive line, where they return both Sam Daniels and Arthur Moats. The duo combined for 107 tackles (42 solo among them) and 17.5 sacks. Their height is listed at 6’ 1" and 6’ 2", respectively, so they might be neutralized simply by a larger, hopefully more powerful Terps o-line. But if the Terps have trouble containing these two, watch out, because the Terps season will be a long one if that’s the case.
Other Key Players
Defensive back/Kick Returner Scotty Mcgee - has game changing potential on kick off and punt returns.
Wide receiver Rockeed McCarter – leading receiver last season with 6 TDs.
Tailback Griff Yancey – rushed for 10 TDs last season while also catching 3 TDs
The Terps should be able to handle the Dukes without much problem. Ralph Friedgen should be able to exploit the size and speed disadvantage the Dukes will have and both Da’Rel Scott and Chris Turner should both have big days. I think this will be a game where a lot of the starters get some rest. This is also JMU's first game of the season and the Terps second, so hopefully the Terps will have knocked off a lot of the rust and be in better shape then the Dukes. The Terps either recover from the