Breaking Down the JMU Game


Predictably, the West Virginia Mountaineers handed the James Madison Dukes a loss, 42-12.

Equally predictable was the offensive play calling on the part of coach Mickey Matthews. Even without Dae-Quan Scott, JMU stuck with the zone read option attack, even on third and long situations. The Dukes struggled to produce much offense in the first half, being limited to 99 total yards (72 yards on the ground).

The Mountaineers defense played exceptionally well against the run in the first half. The Dukes struggled to come up with yards on third downs, frequently punting the ball back to WVU.

West Virginia made the most of the JMU punts. The Mountaineers turned their first four drives into touchdowns (following JMU punts). WVU did a terrific job mixing the running and passing games to start the game. Alston punched in a touchdown from 2 yards out to open the scoring.

Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey combined to score the next two touchdowns for the Mountaineers. Smith also found Dante Campbell for a short touchdown to open up a 28-0 lead in the first half. Smith had no difficulty picking apart the Dukes secondary, throughout the afternoon.

Smith aired the ball out with lethal precision. He completed 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns. With his performance against the Dukes, Geno Smith passed former Mountaineer quarterback Marc Bulger to become West Virginia’s all-time passing yardage leader. Smith has now passed for 8,191 yards, just ahead of Bulger’s 8,153 yards.

At half, the Mountaineers held a 28-3 lead and looked to cruise to an overwhelming blow-out. The Dukes made many adjustments during halftime and came out swinging in the second half. The Dukes drove the field, mixing run and pass effectively to move the ball down to within the 5 yard line.

The Mountaineers forced the Dukes to turn the ball over on downs deep in the redzone, but would give up a safety on the very next play, bringing the score to 28-5.

The Dukes defensive adjustments did not work nearly as well as the offensive adjustments. The Dukes yielded two more touchdowns inthe second half, letting the Mountaineers bloat the lead to 42-5.

The Dukes scored their lone touchdown with less than a minute left against the second string defense, closing the scoring at 42-12.

When you look at the statistics, many will be quick to point out the disparity in rushing yards. JMU outgained WVU 188-121 on the ground. That is not a huge disparity when you consider the fact that JMU runs the ball 73% of the time, while WVU probably runs the ball 30% of the time.

The Mountaineer running game was not as effective against the Dukes as it was two weeks ago against the Herd. Alston was still able to bounce off of tacklers but was not getting the same open lanes as in the season opener. However, coach Holgorsen has always maintained that he primarily runs the ball to keep defenses honest. In that regard, the rushing attack has been more than adequate to keep defenses off balance this season.

The Mountaineers passing attack was prolific once again today. Smith spread the ball around to multiple receivers, but focused the vast majority of his targets to Austin and Bailey. Tavon Austin hauled in 11 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. While Austin put up some impressive statistics, Stedman Bailey was the star of the receiving corps today. Bailey reeled in a career best 13 receptions for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Bailey fought to get open for Geno, often making receptions on extended plays. Bailey made an intelligent adjustment on his third touchdown reception. Smith was bottled up in the backfield, but managed to wiggle free to find Bailey had altered his route to a deep flag route. Geno laid the ball into a perfect spot along the sideline, just out reach of the out-streched arms of the defender. Bailey, rather than stepping out after a big catch, turned the ball back up field to find the endzone. The way Bailey is able to quickly change direction after the catch has become his trademark.

In total, the Mountaineers offense performed quite well, piling up 569 yards and 6 touchdowns. Defensivley, the Mountaineers held the Dukes to 300 yards of offense and one touchdown. The defense tuned up their pass rush scheme, collecting 4 sacks on the afternoon. The pass defense was stout, only allowing 112 yards through the air. The Mountaineers also recorded an impressive diving interception in the back of the endzone, courtesy of Tyler Anderson.

All in all, the Mountaineers put up a storng performance against one of the best FCS teams in the country. The 30 point margin of victory will not blow pollsters away, but the win was solid. The game showed that the Mountaineers offense is capable of consistently producing points and that the defense is starting to gel. There really is not much else that you could hope to see from the Mountaineers today.