HARRISONBURG – James Madison jumps into conference play this weekend, after rolling through its non-conference schedule.
The Dukes outscored their first three opponents 161 to 38.
But Monday during the Colonial Athletic Association coaches teleconference JMU second-year coach Mike Houston said he expects the level of competition to increase Saturday when Maine visits Bridgeforth Stadium.
“We’re anticipating playing the best football team we’ve seen to this point this year,” Houston said. “It is a going to be a very tough task for us on Saturday.”
- Houston said after JMU’s 31-20 victory last year at Maine, he told Black Bears coach Joe Harasymiak, “You need to stick to doing what you’re doing.” Houston said he likes how Maine uses its veteran offensive line to run the ball, and how well Maine is coached on defense.
- Maine is 1-1 this season after suffering a 24-23 loss in Week 1 to New Hampshire and dominating in a 60-12 Week 2 win over Bryant.
- Houston said he’s expecting the same kind of game JMU played last year against Maine. The Black Bears led JMU 20-17 entering the fourth quarter.
- Maine redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson has thrown for six touchdowns in his first two college games. Houston said, “He doesn’t look like a freshman.”
- In the Dukes’ 75-14 win over Norfolk State on Saturday, JMU used 64 players. Houston said after reviewing the film, he was still really happy with how well some of the freshmen played in their first action.
- Houston pointed out freshman wide receiver Ezrah Archie, freshman tight end Clayton Cheatham, redshirt freshman offensive lineman J.T. Timming, freshman offensive lineman Liam Fornadel and freshman running back Percy Agyei-Obese.
- Cheatham and Fornadel have played in all three games this year. But Houston said Cheatham, “I think is going to be really special.” And he noted that he was impressed with how Fornadel was able to play three different positions on the offensive line in the win over the Spartans.
- Harasymiak said he’s noticed an improvement in JMU’s defense that began last year. “Since [defensive coordinator] Bob Trott has come over, they’re much more sound and they’re much more disciplined than they probably have been in the past,” he said.
- Harasymiak said JMU quarterback Bryan Schor is probably the most accurate passer he’s seen in his time coaching.
- Maine running back Josh Mack is averaging 9 yards per carry and has 358 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Harasymiak said Maine has four of its five starters on the offensive line back from last year, which has helped the unit move the football on the ground.