No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

mickeymatthews.png

No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

Led by a grudging defense and coming off thrilling double-overtime victory, No. 2 James Madison heads to Richmond for an in-state matchup against one of the few teams with a superior head-to-head record against the Dukes.

Sitting alone atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, the Dukes (5-1, 3-0) nearly lost that lofty perch their last time out but prevailed for a 27-26 win over William and Mary. To remain unbeaten they must go out on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) and beat a Spiders (4-3, 2-2) squad that averages a robust 35.3 points per game.

That hasn't always been easy for James Madison, which is on the short end of a 16-13 series matchup, though the teams have split 14 games played at Robins stadium. Last season in Harrisonburg, the Dukes racked up 297 rushing yards and seven quarterback sacks in a 31-7 triumph.

Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe is responsible for a good chunk of the Dukes running these days - not to mention, duh, winning. The dual threat option leads the team with 394 yards and four touchdowns while tailback Dae'Quan Scott has racked up 334 yards and five touchdowns on the season, including the go-ahead score against the Tribe.

Thorpe also directs a diverse passing attack where 13 players have caught pass, led by tight end Brian Barlow (16-237-1). James Madison has won 14 straight FCS games with Thorpe under center.

Yet it's on the other side of the ball where the Dukes truly make their mark. In five games against FCS programs, JMU has allowed only six touchdowns and an average of 10.6 points per game.

Playing in the Dukes 4-3 scheme, linebacker Stephon Robertson led JMU in tackles in four of six games, tallying a career-high 14 in a win over No. 12 Towson. Up front, Brandon Lee finished with a career-high eight tackles in the win over William and Mary while fellow defensive end Sage Harold had two sacks against Richmond last season.

The Dukes' defense will contend with Richmond's pro-style offense, helmed by senior quarterback John Laub, who ranks second in the CAA passing yards (246) and total offense (296) per game. Junior wide receiver Ben Edwards tops the conference with 51 receptions

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

In his first game with the Virginia Tech Hokies, Jerod Evans will be leading the team as the starting quarterback, head coach Justin Fuente announced on Thursday. The quarterback competition started as a two-man race between Evans and fifth-year senior Brenden Motley before a late surge by true freshman Josh Jackson turned it into a three-way battle. In the end, however, the decision was no surprise.

Evans, a junior transfer, began his college career at Air Force in 2013. He transferred to Trinity Valley Community College where he developed into a dynamic talent. In 2015, Evans threw for 395.5 yards per game and 38 touchdowns in just eight games before a wrist injury ended his season.

RELATED: HOKIES REVEAL UNIFORMS FOR BATTLE AT BRISTOL

Rated as the No. 1 dual-threat JUCO quarterback in the country, Evans was recruited by Fuente while he was still at Memphis and chose to follow the head coach to Blacksburg.

New coaches are rarely afforded the opportunity of starting their own recruit in their first season at a new school. Given that and the high potential of Evans as a playmaker, it was ultimately no surprise to hear Fuente peg him as the starter.

The announcement came with one caveat, however. Evans was named the starter specifically for the opener against Liberty, but not beyond that. Granted, Evans would have to play pretty poorly to force Fuente into switching starters the week before the Battle at Bristol against Tennessee, but an opener against an FCS team should allow for Fuente to play multiple quarterbacks. If Motley outplays Evans, perhaps it could reignite the quarterback battle.

Even so, Thursday's announcement shows the starting job is now Evans to lose.

MORE VIRGINIA TECH: Virginia Tech themed race car revealed

Virginia names ECU transfer their starting quarterback

benkert.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Virginia names ECU transfer their starting quarterback

When Virginia opens the season on Sept. 3 against Richmond, they will have a new quarterback starting under center. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall named junior transfer Kurt Benkert the starting quarterback on Wednesday morning over seniors Matt Johns and Connor Brewer, according to multiple reports.

Benkert was expected to start for ECU just last season, but a knee injury in preseason forced him to miss the entire year. He is considered the most mobile of the three, which given Mendenhall's history with dual-threat quarterbacks, likely was a major factor in the head coach's decision.

RELATED: HOKIES REVEAL UNIFORMS FOR BATTLE AT BRISTOL

As a junior, Benkert was the only candidate with two years of eligibility remaining, a prospect hat reportedly "intrigued" Mendenhall. If Benkert is able to hold on to the position and start next season as well, it would represent a measure of stability Virginia has not known for quite some time.

What likely helped Benkert was the fact that his head coach at ECU, Ruffin McNeill, is now an assistant as UVa. By coming into a school with an offensive system Benkert was familiar with, it eliminated the learning curve most transfers go through with their new teams.

Benkert will replace Johns who was the team's starter last season and co-starter the season before. The fact that the competition was a three-man race at this point in the summer despite Johns' experience was a clear indication that his ability to win back the starting job was in clear jeopardy.

In addition, Mendenhall also announced Johns and Brewer were still competing for the backup role.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: What is the ceiling for Maryland football in 2016?

Virginia Tech reveals uniforms for Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee

Virginia Tech reveals uniforms for Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee

A big-time game deserves a big-time uniform.

Virginia Tech delivered on that claim aturday as they revealed their look for the upcoming Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee.

The Sept. 20 non-conference game between the border rivals will be played in the infield of Bristol International Speedway in is what expected to be the largest crowd in college football history.

The official reveal was made via a video posted on YouTube:

Other views of the uniforms were also posted on Twitter:

The famous Hokie Stone was the inspiration for the look. The Hokies Stone is a type of rock found in Western Virginia almost exclusively in a nearby quarry owned by the school. It has become an iconic symbol of the school as several building on campus were built from the stone. Players will tap a Hokie Stone that hangs over the tunnel as they enter Lane Stadium during the football season.

The uniform's primary color scheme of black and grey pays homage to the team's history as those were the official colors of Virginia Tech before the school adopted the classic burnt orange and Chicago maroon we recognize today. The color grey was also chosen because it is a prominent color of the Corps of Cadets, according to a statement on the school's athletics website.

And boy do they look sharp. What do you think? Be sure to let us know!

The Battle at Bristol against Tennessee will take place on Sept. 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

RELATED: HOKIES QB COMPETITION A THREE-MAN RACE?