Dukes’ focus is getting back to fundamentals
They’re still ‘very bothered’ by last Saturday’s loss
In last Saturday’s 35-24 loss at New Hampshire, James Madison was hurt by an uncharacteristic number of mistakes.
The Dukes surrendered six turnovers. It was the most turnovers given up by JMU since 2015, the season before coach Mike Houston was hired.
Coming off that performance, Houston said his team needs to play the way the program is built.
“We’ve got to keep our focus on the things that we believe in, that we established when we first got here,” Houston said.
In the Colonial Athletic Association standings, No. 9-ranked JMU (6-3, 4-2 CAA) is tied for third with Stony Brook and Towson, and it’s among a group of six teams separated by just a game. Delaware and Maine at 5-1, and Elon at 4-1, are ahead.
The Dukes host Rhode Island (5-4, 3-3 CAA) at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium.
“Our team has a lot of pride in the way we play,” Houston said. “Obviously they’re very bothered about the performance on Saturday. And we expect our group to be very motivated to get back out on the field and play better this Saturday.”
At New Hampshire, junior starting quarterback Ben DiNucci was replaced by junior Cole Johnson in the first quarter, after DiNucci lost a fumble and threw an interception.
Johnson finished 31 of 48 for 398 yards passing and three interceptions.
Delaware 5 1 Maine 5 1 Elon 4 1 James Madison 4 2 Stony Brook 4 2 Towson 4 2 Rhode Island 3 3 William & Mary 2 3 New Hampshire 2 4 Villanova 1 5 Richmond 1 5
Albany 0 6
Saturday’s Games Towson at Elon, Noon
Delaware at Stony Brook, 1 p.m. William & Mary at Villanova, 1 Albany at New Hampshire, 1 Rhode Island at James Madison, 2 Maine at Richmond, 3
7 6 6 6 6 6 5 3 3 4 3 2 2 3 2 3 3 3 4 5 6 5 6 7
He and DiNucci competed for the starting job before the season.
Asked about the plan at quarterback, Houston said they’ll play who gives them the best chance to win Saturday.
Rhode Island has senior JaJuan Lawson back at quarterback. Lawson missed four games with a knee injury, but returned last Saturday in Rhode Island’s 24-21 loss at Elon. He was 25 of 35 for 349 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“The thing that stands out to me is just you can see [Lawson’s] leadership, you can see the way everybody rallies around him,” Houston said.
The Rams have a talented receiving corps, headed by junior Aaron Parker, whose 92.9 yards a game lead the CAA.
JMU will honor its 11 seniors Saturday. Houston hopes it’s a senior day that yields positive memories.
“It’s an important game for our players, not only for the implications with the CAA race, but also out of respect for a group of seniors who have done some pretty special things in their time at James Madison University,” Houston said.