JMU roundup: Dukes ranked 13th in coaches poll
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The James Madison University football team will enter the 2015 season as a nationally ranked team as it was 13th in the preseason FCS Coaches Poll released Wednesday afternoon.
The Dukes, who were predicted to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association last week at the CAA Media Day, are coming off a 9-4 season (6-2 CAA) in 2014, in which they reached the FCS playoffs for the first time in three years under first-year head coach Everett Withers.
In his inaugural season at the helm, Withers led Madison’s offense to several records, including total offense (6,300), passing yards (3,499), completions (286) and passing touchdowns (30). JMU produced the most prolific offense in the CAA with 484.6 yards per game, which ranked 10th in the country. The Dukes also ranked 21st in FCS in both passing offense (269.2) and rushing offense (215.15) and boasted the 17th-best scoring team (35.7) in the nation. Defensively, the Dukes ranked second in the country in turnover margin (+1.08), 12th in total fumble recoveries (14) and 13th in sacks per game (2.85). They also turned in one of their best seasons on record in terms of blocks, ranking sixth in total blocks (7) and third in blocked punts (4).
The Dukes are one of four CAA squads to garner a spot in the coaches poll, as Villanova was third, New Hampshire was seventh and Richmond was 18th. Maine and Towson also received votes. Four-time defending national champion North Dakota State was the consensus No. 1, receiving all 24 first-place votes.
JMU ranked 19th in the final 2014 coaches poll while also placing 18th in the final media poll. The STATS Preseason Top-25 Poll will be released on Aug. 10.
Madison opens the 2015 season, presented by CarMax, on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Morehead State at 6 p.m. at Bridgeforth Stadium. Tickets are on sale now by visiting www.jmutickets.com or by calling (540) 568-3853.