The Mountaineers open their season on Saturday against the Dukes of James Madison. JMU is nationally known as a FCS powerhouse and is constantly in the running for the FCS championship every year. If West Virginia doesn't take this team seriously, don't be surprised to see JMU come into Morgantown and punch the Mountaineers in the mouth.
Last season, the Dukes ranked sixth in the FCS in total defense and this season they are returning a starter at every position on the defense. They only allowed 14.6 points per game and 289.5 yards per game. Like last year, this season, they are an athletic group who is balanced at all positions and will look to cause turnovers and slow down the Mountaineers.
The names to keep an eye on with their 2018 stats:
DE Ron’Dell Carter 58 tck 13 TFL 7.5 sacks
DE John Daka 47 tck 17 TFL 10 sacks
LB Dimitri Holloway 127 tck 11 TFL 2 FF
S Adam Smith 68 tck 3 INT 7 PBU
CB Rashad Robinson 51 tck 2.5 TFL 7 INT 16 PBU
All-American cornerback Rashad Robinson, and potential 2020 NFL draft pick, leads the defense after missing the 2018 season due to an injury. He teams up with Adam Smith and D'Angelo Amos in the secondary who are lockdown players who can also tackle very well. Mike Greene and John Daka are two interior defensive lineman who clog up holes and put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. More names to keep an eye on are 1st Team All-CAA members Ron'Dell Carter and John Daka who combined for 17.5 sacks a year ago and are serious edge rushers. Also returning is the Dukes leading tackler, linebacker Dimitri Holloway. Holloway finished with 127 tackles a year ago.
West Virginia will have to establish their run game in order to move the ball efficiently against JMU. If the Dukes slow down the running game, and put a hand on Austin Kendall while he makes throws, the Mountaineers will have a tough time scoring. I do believe that the WVU offensive line has a size advantage so they should control the trenches, and will give the running backs chances to make big plays.
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