At the end of her show each week, Sarah Silverman always asks her dog, "What did we learn today, Doug?" After a crazy day in college football, I am sitting in my kitchen on Sunday morning drinking a cup of coffee wishing I had a dog named Doug. (Or a girl named Sarah!)
One thing we learned is that statistics don't always tell the full story. Back in 2004 Delaware ran up and down the field and dominated in their game at James Madison. The Hens out gained JMU 466-166 in total offense that day, but JMU prevailed 20-13 ruining the debut of a then unheard of Delaware running back named Omar Cuff. It was the type of game that championship teams find a way to win which is exactly what James Madison was that year finishing the season with a record of 13-2 and winning the I-AA National Championship.
Yesterday at Delaware Stadium it was JMU that was able to run it up and down the field. The Dukes compiled 403 yards rushing, the fourth most ever against a Delaware defense, including touchdown runs of 86, 48, and 55 yards; but it was Delaware who persevered this time defeating JMU 37-34. It was the type of game that championship teams find a way to win.
Another thing we learned yesterday was to play until you hear the whistle. On James Madison's second possession of the game running back Scott Noble ran what appeared to be a garden variety 2-yard run up the middle. As the pile was holding him up, Noble and several other players anticipated the whistle and stopped playing. One player who did not stop was Delaware defensive end Matt Marcorelle who ripped the ball away from Noble and started sprinting in the other direction commencing a 20-minute tirade/hissy fit on the field and up and down the sidelines by JMU head coach Mickey Matthews disputing the call.
We also learned that Delaware's defense needs both of its ends Marcorelle and Ronald Talley healthy. Marcorelle did not return to the game after injuring his shoulder on a touchdown saving tackle by JMU quarterback Rodney Landers on the aforementioned strip. Talley sprained his ankle in the first half of the Navy game last week and hasn't played since. After the game, Delaware head coach KC Keeler told us on the radio that he was certain that both would be fine and ready to go next week which I am pretty sure is what he told us last week about Talley. Delaware fans better hope so. Without either of the two playing during the second half yesterday the Dukes were able to compile 339-yards and score 28 points.
After the Delaware game, I had a chance to watch the Hens next opponent, the Richmond Spiders and their Big Daddy Long-Legs Tim Hightower take apart Villanova 35-27. You don't need a degree in Arachnology to realize that these Spiders are pretty scary. Hightower rushed for 187-yards, a touchdown, and caught 3 passes increasing his rushing yards per game average up to 154. These Spiders are far from a one-legged team however. Their quarterback Eric Ward keeps getting better. Yesterday he completed 70% of his passes, threw a score, and ran for one. Richmond also has an outstanding offensive line, a good group of receivers, a stingy defense that allows less than 20 points per game, and a young coach in Dave Clawson that appears to be on the fast track.
If Delaware is going to win next Saturday, they are going to have to play their most complete game of the year.
A couple of other things we learned yesterday. If you are going to win games in the Northeast part of the country in November and December, you better be able to run the football. Just ask Massachusetts and New Hampshire, who had to play in hurricane conditions and lost to the two worst teams in the CAA, about that.
Finally we learned that good things come to those who wait. After 44 years, Navy beat Notre Dame. Congratulations to Navy coach Paul Johnson. I hope you like the weather in Nebraska.
ps- See the post below for the recap of the JMU Game.