Soured by set­back, JMU seeks re­bound

Vil­lanova likely will have start­ing QB back from shoul­der in­jury

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS - BY WAYNE EPPS JR.

HARRISONBURG — Com­ing off a rare CAA loss, James Madi­son coach Mike Hous­ton said this week that the team’s vet­er­ans have an un­der­stand­ing that now is the time the Dukes have to hold each other ac­count­able.

“They’ve got to mo­ti­vate each other,” Hous­ton said. “They want to be coached hard. And that’s some­thing that they’ve asked for. ‘Stay on us, stay af­ter us on the lit­tle things.’ ”

JMU dropped a 27-24 game to Elon last Satur­day to end its 22game win streak against con­fer­ence op­po­nents.

The Dukes don’t want that re­sult to linger in a neg­a­tive way.

“One thing that we al­ways said was, ‘Don’t let Elon beat us twice,’ ” se­nior run­ning back Trai Sharp said af­ter prac­tice Tues­day.

JMU, now ranked No. 6, trav­els to play Vil­lanova at 1 p.m. on Satur­day.

Hous­ton said the Dukes’ suc­cess has come be­cause of each other, and they’ll re­bound from

last week’s set­back be­cause of each other, too.

“I’ve talked to them about things like this a lot,” Hous­ton said. “Just that foot­ball games are hard to win. And what we’ve been able to ex­pe­ri­ence here for a cou­ple of years is not re­al­ity. I mean, re­al­ity is ev­ery sin­gle week you’re just, you’re scrap­ping and scrap­ing to try to find a way to get a win.

“And it’s tough when you have a painful loss.

But I think that pain is im­por­tant. Be­cause if you don’t have that then, ob­vi­ously, you’re not very in­vested in the process.”

Vil­lanova (3-3, 0-3 Colo­nial Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion) is likely to get a boost on Satur­day with the re­turn of se­nior start­ing quar­ter­back Zach Bed­nar­czyk. He in­jured his left throw­ing shoul­der in the Wild­cats’ 29-27 loss to Stony Brook on Sept. 29 and missed last week’s game against Maine.

Hous­ton said Tues­day that JMU (4-2, 2-1) fully ex­pects Bed­nar­czyk to play Satur­day.

“And look­ing at them with him ver­sus them without him, it’s no com­par­i­son,” Hous­ton said.

In five games, Bed­nar­czyk is sec­ond in the CAA in pass­ing yards per game (263.8), and tied for sec­ond with JMU ju­nior Ben DiNucci and Rhode Is­land se­nior JaJuan Law­son for to­tal touch­downs (13).

On de­fense, Vil­lanova will present a sim­i­lar look to what the Dukes saw against Elon. Be­fore he joined the Phoenix last year, Elon de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tony Trisciani was the sec­ondary coach and re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor at Vil­lanova.

Vil­lanova and Elon each em­ploy a sim­i­lar 3-3-5 stack scheme. From his per­spec­tive, JMU ju­nior de­fen­sive end Ron’Dell Carter said the look can re­ally mess with an of­fen­sive line.

“Be­cause you may have three down line­men, but then you got guys blitz­ing from ev­ery­where, you know what I mean?” Carter said.

Up front, Hous­ton said the Dukes have to make fewer mis­takes in as­sign­ments in the run game. They were held to 103 yards against Elon.

“Give our run­ning backs cleaner reads,” Hous­ton said. “I think our run­ning backs have to do a much bet­ter job of see­ing the cuts this week than they did last week. I think we got to do a bet­ter job with com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pro­tec­tions.”

Satur­day will be a day when both teams will be be eye­ing a re­bound — the Wild­cats lost 13-10 at Maine last Satur­day, on a last-sec­ond, 52-yard field goal.

Vil­lanova coach Mark Fer­rante said Mon­day he ex­pects JMU to be fired up, just like his own team.

“You want to get this bad taste out of your mouth,” Carter said.


JMU coach Mike Hous­ton said if you don’t have pain af­ter a tough loss then “ob­vi­ously, you’re not very in­vested in the process.”

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