HARRISONBURG – James Madison coach Mike Houston admitted his team had chances to put Maine away earlier than it did this past Saturday.
The Dukes turned the ball over twice – once in the first half when the game was scoreless and again in the second half while leading by four points as it had had the ball inside the Maine 2.
“We had a couple of mistakes there that kept us out of the end zone a couple of times,” Houston said Monday during the CAA coaches teleconference. “And we could have had a little breathing room a little earlier, but at the end of the day, our kids found a way to win a very tough ball game.”
What Houston said he liked during the game and after having the weekend to review it, was his team’s resolve.
The Dukes trailed for the first time all season after the Black Bears took a 10-7 lead early in the second half on Josh Mack’s 60-yard touchdown run.
“I think what you saw late in the ball game, probably right after giving up the long touchdown run, was probably just a group that was focused on playing together and trying to get the momentum back,” the second-year coach said. “Then really trying to put the game out of reach. I really like the way we played down the stretch.”
- Houston echoed some of what he said Saturday about Maine. Though the Black Bears fell to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the CAA, Houston called Maine “a top-end, quality football team” that would win a lot of games this year.
- This week James Madison wide receiver Terrence Alls, linebacker Brandon Hereford, cornerback Justin Bethea and offensive lineman Nick Edwards return from suspension. Houston said, “It’s going to be a boost” to get those players back.
- As far as how much Alls and Hereford, who were starters on last year’s team, would play at Delaware, Houston said they’d “be in the mix.”
- On Delaware, Houston said the Blue Hens’ defense, which is in the Top 16 nationally for both scoring defense and total defense, has a really strong front seven. Delaware is giving up just 14.7 points per game and 280.7 total yards per game.
- Delaware coach Danny Rocco said the Blue Hens have some veteran leaders on defense. The team captains are two senior linebackers in Charles Bell and Troy Reeder, a Penn State transfer. And Rocco said one reason for the unit’s early success is that the team’s personnel actually fits the system he and coordinator Chris Cosh brought with them from Richmond to Delaware better than what the Blue Hens were running last season under ex-coach Dave Brock.
- Cosh, before joining Rocco’s staff at Richmond last year, among other stops, had previously served as a defensive coordinator at Kansas State (2009-11), Maryland (2006-08) and Michigan State (1998), so he’s worked for Bill Snyder, Ralph Friedgen and Nick Saban in the past.
- Rocco said, “it’s very challenging” to slow JMU’s offense, though. He said JMU might be most dangerous when quarterback Bryan Schor tries to create and improvise outside of the pocket.