For the 10% of our already small audience that actually cares, HOW ‘BOUT THEM JMU DUKES?
In August 2003, Utah quarterback Brett Elliott led the Utes to a 40-20 victory over Utah State. He opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Larry Miles on a play called Houston. The moment remains notable as it marked the first touchdown of Urban Meyer’s coaching career at Utah.
Twelve years later, Elliott mentioned the touchdown pass as a fitting mile marker on his circuitous route to becoming one of the hot coordinators in college football. Elliott, 32, is in his first season as co-offensive coordinator at FCS James Madison, which pulled off a 48-45 upset of SMU on Saturday night.
If you’ve never heard of Elliott, that’s because he got hurt a week after that victory at Utah State. An under-recruited back-up named Alex Smith took over the starting job, and in 2004 led Utah to an undefeated season and became the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Realizing he’d have a hard time beating out Smith, Elliott transferred to Division III Linfield for the 2004 season.
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He hooked back up with his old quarterback coach at Utah, Dan Mullen, and spent the last three years in Starkville in quality control helping with the quarterbacks. He worked closely with Dak Prescott […] “He’s a very sharp and up-and-coming coach,” Mullen said on Sunday night. “He will be a hot name in coaching soon. He paid his dues the right way, worked hard and is taking advantage of his opportunity.”
Elliott’s big break came when JMU offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer left for Houston last year. JMU head coach Everett Withers is a former defensive coordinator under Meyer at Ohio State. He wanted someone with experience in Meyer’s offense. Elliott walked into an ideal situation, as JMU quarterback Vad Lee, a Georgia Tech transfer, may be the best QB in the FCS. Lee ranks No. 5 in the FCS in passing yards and No. 5 in the FCS in rushing yards.
He reminds Elliott of the quarterback he left behind in Starkville. “There are so many similarities between Vad and Dak,” Elliott said. “From everything on the field to what they’re like off the field. They are like clones.”
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It showed in JMU’s signature victory on Saturday, as Lee led the Dukes (4-0) on an eight-play, 75-yard drive for the winning touchdown with 27 seconds left to beat SMU. That leaves JMU as No. 1 in total offense (671.3), No. 2 in scoring offense (50.3) and No. 1 in rushing offense (356.3).
Things are going so well for the Dukes that Lee was selected as ESPN’s Big Man on Campus this week. The SportsCenter segment: