HARRISONBURG – James Madison football will play the rest of its season with a special decal on its helmets honoring Ron Carrier, who passed away Monday.
Carrier was the president emeritus at JMU after leading the school from 1971 to 1998.
“I got the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Carrier this summer,” JMU coach Mike Houston said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “And actually received an email from him a couple of weeks ago about our win over ECU.
“He was someone that certainly cared about athletics, cared about JMU football, so I feel like myself and all of our team and program owe him a lot for everything he did to bring JMU football to where it is right now.”
The school went from Division III Madison College to Division I JMU under Carrier’s watch.
“We will be wearing a sticker on the back of our helmet for the remainder of our season for every home and away game,” Houston said. “In memory of Dr. Carrier, and out of respect everything he did for James Madison University.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
- Houston said JMU junior running back Trai Sharp would play Saturday. Sharp is currently away from the team and with his family dealing with the loss of his father, David, who died Saturday in North Carolina.
- As far as preparations for Maine, Houston said he expects the top-ranked Dukes to be challenged. Houston said both JMU and Maine play with similar identities. Both the Dukes and Black Bears pride themselves on running the football on offense and playing with toughness on defense.
- JMU didn’t see much of Maine running back Josh Mack in last year’s game. Mack had only two carries during the Dukes’ 31-20 win in Orono. But as the season went on, Mack moved up the depth chart and grabbed the No. 1 job. He’s been the Black Bears’ go-to-guy on offense this season as he currently leads the Colonial Athletic Association with 358 rushing yards.
- Houston said Mack’s emergence “solidifies” Maine’s offense. Houston called Mack, “a big, strong runner,” that can run well behind Maine’s veteran offensive line. Houston said Mack fits exactly what Maine wants to do on offense.
- JMU trailed entering the fourth quarter of the game at Maine last year. Houston said the difference in the final quarter was that JMU forced a few turnovers and that eventually it got its running game going. Running back Cardon Johnson had a touchdown run of 52 yards to help JMU pull away.
- Sophomore linebacker Gus Little said Saturday against Maine “is definitely a linebacker’s game” with the way the Black Bears run the ball. Little said Mack is having a really good season, so he’s excited to play against a good running back.
- Little said he really is starting to understand JMU’s defensive playbook well. He said he understands it more and more each week.
- Even though he’s started the first three games for JMU, Little said he still likes to keep the mentality that he’s in a position battle like he was throughout camp. JMU has used three other middle linebackers – Kyre Hawkins, Dimitri Holloway and Landan Word – in addition to Little. He said the overall talent level of the room keeps competition strong.
- Senior running back Taylor Woods said the running back position group is doing well considering the circumstances. He said him and the other running backs are speaking to both Sharp and Johnson on a daily basis while the two are away from the team.
- Houston said Johnson went through his surgery today.
- Woods said group is extremely tight-knit, especially with him, Sharp and Marcus Marshall all being from North Carolina. He says all the guys in the position group do everything together from going out to eat to hanging out to anything football related.
- Johnson took Woods under his wing when Woods first arrived in Harrisonburg, Woods said. Woods said he's always been thankful to Johnson for that and that right now, he's sad Johnson's senior season had to come to an end quickly.
- Woods said he’s excited for Sharp to come back to the team and play together again.
- Of Maine, Woods said their defensive front is really tough. Woods said Maine is the toughest opponent JMU will have seen yet.