When WVU squares off with the Dukes of JMU this Saturday, Mountaineer fans will feel like they are taking a trip down memory lane (whether it is a good memory or bad memory depends on your level of distaste for Rich Rod).
Coach Mickey Matthews Dukes run an offensive system that closely mirrors the Rich Rodriguez offense. The Dukes are a run-heavy, zone read option offense. James Madison’s offense runs the ball 73% of the time, maintaining a slight advantage in time of possession. When the Dukes do pass the ball, they rely on quick slants and bubble screens. Sound familiar?
The kind of offense that JMU runs is eerily reminiscent of the offense that WVU ran with Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt. James Madison runs their offense on the legs of Justin Thorpe, Dae-Quan Scott, and Jordan Anderson.
Just as the Mountaineers relied heavily on the abilities of Steve Slaton, the Dukes rely heavily on the running ability of star rusher Dae’Quan Scott. Last season, Scott carried the ball for 1,304 yards and 12 touchdowns.
With Scott sidelined due to injury, the Dukes will need to turn to Jordan Anderson to take the majority of the carries on Saturday. Anderson is a more than competent replacement, having rushed for more than 800 yards last season.
Quarterback Justin Thorpe, while not nearly as talented as Pat White, is still a formidable dual threat passer. A season ago, he ran for nearly 400 yards and passed for more than 800 yards in only 8 games of work. Look for Thorpe to do more running on Saturday to burden some of the carries that would normally have gone to Scott.
The Dukes offense should be a solid early season test for a Mountaineers defense that looked rather sluggish against Marshall. WVU’s defense, while struggling against the pass, looked stout against the run. Saturday’s game should be a good morale booster for the defense and give the coaching staff plenty of looks at how well the new 3-4 scheme handles a run-centric offense similar to ones they will see from Big XII opponents like Kansas State and Iowa State.