Dukes ready for first CAA road test against Blue Hens

Rashad Robinson

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University football head coach Mike Houston said he expects every game to be a challenge in the Colonial Athletic Conference this season. Today the Dukes will get their first CAA road test.

The Dukes will play at the University of Delaware today at 3:30 p.m. Houston said the Blue Hens will provide a big challenge for JMU.

“I think we’re probably facing, again this week, the best team we’ve seen to this point so far this season,” Houston said. “I think we’ll have to have our best effort of the year in order to have a chance to win (today). In what I’m sure will be a hostile environment up in Delaware.”

The Blue Hens (2-1) are led by the running back tandem of Kareem Williams and Thomas Jefferson.

Williams has rushed for 213 yards on 36 carries. Jefferson has 177 yards on 43 carries.

“They look on film a lot like they did last year, offensively,” Houston said. “They have a big, strong offensive line. They’re well coached on the offensive front. But you get that size and that strength and they’re going to have the ability to run the football downhill.”

Delaware quarterback Joe Walker has thrown for 510 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Houston said Walker has improved a lot since last season. Walker’s top target this season has been Jamie Jarmon who has turned into a big-play threat for the Blue Hens. Jarmon has 13 catches for 144 yards and one score.

“I think (Walker’s) got a lot of tools right there,” Houston said. “And I think they’re going to challenge us with the run game and with the play-action stuff off the run on Saturday.”

Delaware is averaging 21 points per game on offense. However, the Blue Hens are even stronger on the defensive side of the ball.

Delaware’s only loss came to Virginia Tech, 27-0, on Sept. 9.

The Blue Hens are allowing just 14.7 points per game, and held Virginia Tech to less than 100 yards rushing in their game.

“They’re playing at a very high level,” Houston said. “They are big and strong up front and very powerful. Those two inside linebackers are extremely active and just very talented players, probably two of the better linebackers in the league.”

Houston said Delaware’s entire starting secondary from last year is back. The Blue Hens are coached by Danny Rocco, who was the head coach at the University of Richmond last year.

Houston said they switched their defense to a 3-4, and it has worked out well for them.

The Dukes have a pretty solid defense of their own. JMU is allowing just 12 points and 231.8 yards per game. They are fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision in both categories.

Redshirt senior linebacker Kyre Hawkins leads the team with 27 tackles, while junior cornerback Rashad Robinson has a team-high three interceptions.

Offensively, the Dukes continue to roll. JMU is averaging 47.2 points and 560 yards per game.

JMU senior quarterback Bryan Schor has thrown for 938 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has completed passes to 13 different players.

Junior wide receiver David Eldridge has caught a team-high 15 passes for 217 yards and two scores.

Junior running back Marcus Marshall has rushed for 318 yards on 50 carries and three touchdowns for the Dukes this season.

JMU rallied from a 10-7 deficit early in the second half last week against Maine. The Dukes, who have a 16-game winning streak, scored the last 21 points of the game.

“For the first time this year we found ourselves trailing there in the third quarter,” Houston said. “And I thought our team showed a lot of resiliency in the way they responded from that point on until the end of the ballgame.”