James Madison Dukes Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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James Madison Dukes Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the James Madison season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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James Madison Dukes Preview
Head Coach: Curt Cignetti, 4th year at JMU, 33-5
12th year overall, 100-31
2021 Record: Overall: 12-2, Conference: 7-1
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
James Madison Top 10 Players | James Madison Schedule

James Madison Dukes Preview 2022

James Madison isn’t just entering FBS life in the Sun Belt looking to have a good time.

Oh it will – this fan base is jacked for the upgrade to the big-time – but this is a program used to winning lots and lots of games, going to the FCS Playoffs on a regular basis, and doing it all with plenty of big pop to the offense and with a defense that comes in smoking.

And then there’s the obvious X factor – just how quickly can this program adapt, adjust, and be ready for life against the bigger teams with the depth and talent it hasn’t faced in a long time.

The last game against an FBS program was the opener of the 2019 season. It was a good 20-13 loss to West Virginia, and the 24-13 opener loss to NC State in 2018 was tough, but the 2017 powerhouse blew out East Carolina and there’s going to be no fear factor with the parts currently in place.

The team isn’t eligible for a bowl game this year – totally silly, by the way – and there’s no pressure whatsoever in the transition.

This is about adapting, adjusting, and establishing itself as a potential Sun Belt power.

James Madison Dukes Preview 2022: Offense

With seven starters expected back and a whole lot of good new guys from the transfer portal, the offense is going to work. It was No. 1 in the Colonial Athletic Association last year and overall it was 17th in the FCS with one of the nation’s most efficient lower-level passing games.

QB Cole Johnson was the CAA Offensive Player of the Year and now he needs to be replaced, and star receiver Antwane Wells is off to South Carolina, but …

Getting Todd Centeio from Colorado State will be a big help in the thin quarterback situation. Backup Billy Atkins got in a little work last year, but Centeio is a five-year veteran who can run as well as bomb away.

Yeah, the loss of the 83 catches, 15 touchdowns, and 15 yards per catch from Wells hurt, and the Dukes have to replace three of their top four receivers, but Kris Thornton is back after also catching 83 passes for close to 1,100 yards and 13 scores. Getting the 97 catches from Boston College veteran Kobay White helps.

The offensive line will instantly be a factor in the Sun Belt. Four starters are expected back around all-star tackle Nick Kidwell. Overall it has to be a bit better in pass protection, but it’ll bash away for the running game.

The passing game was the star last year, but the O gets back 947-yard back Latrele Palmer and adds another 220-pounder in AJ Davis from Pitt in what should be a good and deep rotation.

James Madison Dukes Preview 2022: Defense

The defense was every bit as good as the high-powered offense, but it loses a whole lot more talent. Last year’s D allowed just 275 yards and 15 points per game with a fantastic pass rush and production everywhere.

The star power losses might be big, but …

The defensive line will still get into the backfield. Pass rusher Bryce Carter is done, but Isaac Ukwu is an all-star end who’s back after making nine tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. The interior was young and should have a good rotation around veteran Tony Thurston on the nose. However, there’s not a ton of massive bulk inside.

Losing leading tackler Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey to Texas stings. He made 116 tackles with four picks, and the linebacking corps also loses second-leading tackler Kelvin Azanama. This isn’t a deep group for the 4-2-5, and the young backups from last year have to rise up.

The secondary is in better shape – at least it will be in time. Only two starters are back, but Sam Kidd is a terrific all-around safety tied with Chris Chukwuneke as the leading returning tackler with 60 stops. The transfer portal is bringing in the bodies for the rest of the backfield.

Jarius Reimonenq is a veteran all-around defensive back – he’ll be a safety – from Arkansas State, and Deon Jones is a veteran safety who played at Maryland and Boston College.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
James Madison Top 10 Players | James Madison Schedule

James Madison Dukes: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

James Madison Dukes: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

James Madison Dukes: Key To The 2022 Offense

The offensive line has to be a bit better overall.

It was good, and it’ll be more than fine with four starters back along with solid young depth. However, with the jump in leagues and levels comes the jump in talent level on the other side.

The offense was able to get away with the line allowing two sacks and five tackles for loss per game – assume that goes up this season.

With the changes at quarterback, the loss of a few key parts, and with the need to own the time of possession with the losses on defense, the running game has to be stronger.

Basically, the O line was great, and now it has to be even more dominant.

James Madison Dukes: Key To The 2022 Defense

It might seem obvious since it’s the overall goal of any defense, but … get off the field.

Time of possession wasn’t an issue last year, and few teams were better on third down stops, but how did James Madison lose to North Dakota State? The D was good on third downs, but the Bison O never seemed to leave – NDSU had the ball for close to 33 minutes.

That’s just one nitpicky case – JMU dominated the time of possession battle in the loss to Villanova – but it goes to an overall theme.

The sacks, takeaways, and big stops have to continue without all the parts who made that happen – and against a slew of stronger teams.

James Madison Dukes: Key Player To The 2022 Season

QB Todd Centeio, Sr.
Or Billy Atkins or Alonza Barnett or Chase Hart. Cole Johnson wasn’t just an all-star quarterback for the Dukes, he made everything go in dominant fashion with 41 touchdown passes, just four picks, and with 236 rushing yards and six scores.

Centeio started his career at Temple, went to Colorado State, and now he’s here with close to 3,800 career passing yards, 23 touchdown passes, and 766 rushing yards and three scores. He has to be a steadying factor in the transition.

James Madison Dukes: Key Transfer

CB Antoine Booth, RFr.
And/or Nehki Meredith from NC State, and/or John Ransom from Virginia Tech. The Dukes need cornerbacks to step up and shine right away.

The safeties will be fine, but and there are a few corners in place to work around, but Booth – a good recruit for Michigan State – and the other transfer corners have to be fantastic right away.

James Madison Key Game To The 2022 Season

Coastal Carolina, Nov. 26
How far and how fast can James Madison rise up? There’s no bowl game to go to, so the regular season finale against Coastal Carolina will be it.

The Chanticleers will be among the Sun Belt’s stars again. However the rest of the season goes, if JMU can win to close things out, it’s going to be a strong measuring stick to go into 2023. Or, everything rocks for the Dukes and this becomes a massive moment in the Sun Belt East race.

James Madison Dukes: 2021 Fun Stats

– 2nd Quarter Scoring: James Madison 178 – Opponents 36
– Fumbles: Opponents 32 (lost 13) – James Madison 14 (lost 7)
– Passing TDs: James Madison 43 – Opponents 16

O, D Breakdown | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
James Madison Top 10 Players | James Madison Schedule

James Madison Dukes Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

James Madison Dukes Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Really? Just how much noise can James Madison make right away?

Oh yeah, dominating the FCS world was fun and all, but it’s going to be a weekly fight through the Sun Belt and the FBS schedule to get into the mix for a winning season.

There’s a whole lot of talent coming back, the coaching staff is great, and the program will have the right attitude to be ready to handle the pressure.

Set The James Madison Dukes Regular Season Win Total At … 6

The Dukes should be strong enough – and fired up enough – to get by Middle Tennessee out of the gate, and taking down Norfolk State should be enough for a 2-0 start. However …

Road games at Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, and Louisville will all be tough – JMU, though, should be able to at least win one, maybe two.

Marshall, Georgia State, and Coastal Carolina are hardly sure-thing home wins, but …

Add Texas State to the win pile, going to Old Dominion is at least a 50/50 game, and there will be at least one great upset along the way.

Sheepishly set the win bar at 6, and don’t be shocked if that’s ridiculously low if and when James Madison carries over all the success.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
James Madison Top 10 Players | James Madison Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams