FIELD NOTES: On The Win Streak

Greg Madia, Publisher
Dukes of JMU
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JMU Athletic Communications

HARRISONBURG – In a meeting with his senior leaders on Sunday, James Madison coach Mike Houston liked something senior quarterback Bryan Schor brought up.

Tuesday during Houston’s weekly press conference, the second-year coach said Schor told the group he was encouraged how no player overreacted after the Dukes’ offense turned the ball over on its first two possessions of Saturday’s win at Delaware.

“[Schor] said he never heard any griping or complaining on the sideline from the defensive players or from the other offensive players,” Houton said. “It was kind of like ‘Let’s get this addressed.’

“I think that shows and even reinforces more what I’ve talked about in the unity of this team. I think it only helps with not pressing or panicking.”

There’s a correlation between staying steady and winning, too. JMU has won 17 straight games – the longest-active streak in all of Division I.

Like Schor and the offense moved on from their two turnovers against the Blue Hens, the team simply moves from one week to the next as soon they’ve picked up its most recent win.

After its bye week, JMU hosts Villanova on Oct. 14.

“I think a winning streak like this is special,” Houston said. “As far as thinking about putting it together, we don’t. But we’re worried about Villanova.

“We could care less about anything behind us. I don’t even know who we play after Villanova. I don’t care. The only game that matters is that next game and that’s the mentality our team, coaching staff and everybody in the [Athletic Performance Center].”

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- Some of what Houston will address with his team during the bye week includes communication in the run game, changing some of the calls defensively, and adding a few new wrinkles ahead of next week’s game against Villanova.

- Houston said a lot of young players would get reps in practice this week to increase their development. The coach said he’s done a snap analysis of how many snaps each player has played within the first five weeks of the season. Houston said he’d look this week at how he could find some younger players to take some reps off some of older players who have played a significant amount of snaps this year.

- The bye week also provides extra time to prepare for Villanova’s 3-3-5 defense. Houston said the additional prep is good because not many defenses use a 3-3-5 as its base.

- The off week also important for recruiting. Houston said members of his staff were out recruiting Monday and would go back out Thursday and Friday. Houston said his coaches would be everywhere from New Jersey to Florida targeting prospects.

- Schor said there are a few things during the bye week that the offense is looking at. The first part of the game that needs to get cleaned up is his turnovers, he said. Schor has thrown five interceptions in the first five games. He threw six interceptions all of last year.

- JMU has used a number of different receivers this season as some of its top guys have been limited due to injury or suspension. This has forced Schor to get on the same page with a lot different receivers. Schor said the offense has had to adapt to different receivers shuffling in and out of the lineup and that chemistry is something that continues to develop.

- Schor said he’s getting more comfortable with all the receivers each week and that he’s confident in each one of them.

- Defensive tackle Cornell Urquhart said he thinks the JMU defense hasn’t put its best effort together yet.

- Though the Dukes defense ranks near the top nationally in every defensive statistical category and that the unit hasn’t allowed more than 14 points to an opposing offense in a game, he said a top performance would be a shutout while not allowing an offense past midfield or to surpass 100 rushing yards.

- Urquhart added the chemistry of the defense is the best he has seen since he’s been at JMU. He said it’s nice to play with teammates that have been through all the same things together, from limited success in the past to winning a national title last season.

- After the team’s practice, among a few injury updates, Houston said right guard Gerren Butler is out for the year with an ACL injury. Butler will have surgery this Friday. There will be a full report in Wednesday’s DN-R (and here on DukesOfJMU) on the injuries.

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