JMU’s OC Is One Of Football’s Hottest Coaches And Its QB Is On SportsCenter

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For the 10% of our already small audience that actually cares, HOW ‘BOUT THEM JMU DUKES?

They beat SMU (an actual FBS team!), at SMU, last Saturday with an incredible display of offensive firepower (729 yards!), and now they’re getting pub on the digital pages of SI:

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.

[ … ]

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.”

[ … ]

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:

Four More Years


This season has been a disappointment for O’s fans, and a big disappointment for Nats fans. It’s stacked upon postseason frustration (and in the Nats’ case, failure), too, as the two have combined for four playoff births the past four years, but only one playoff series win. It’s all relative, though.

It was fairly recent — about five years, to be exact — that both teams were bottom-feeders and had been for a long, long time. But if you look at the past four years, from 2012 to today, the O’s have won more regular-season games than any other American League team, and the Nats have won eight more than that.

Here’s the full list, as best I can tell:

1. Cardinals — 372
2. Dodgers — 359
3. Nationals — 358
4. Orioles — 350

5. Yankees — 348
6. Angels — 343
7. Tigers — 342
8. Giants — 337
9. Royals — 336
10. Rangers and Rays — 334

(Thanks to Ken Rosenthal’s look at Baltimore tension for the heads up.)

Redskins-Giants Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games. This time a 32-21 loss in New York on a Thursday night that was miserable from start to finish.

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Keenan Robinson — Seemed to play well, side-to-side (13 tackles).

Rashad Ross — The Redskins scored their first special teams TD in five years! Of course, the game was already well out of hand when it happened, but it’s good just knowing that such a thing is in the realm of possibility.

Dustin Hopkins — Touchbacks are so nice.


Kirk Cousins — Threw a bad pick from his own 10 and continued to make poor throws throughout the first half. Threw another INT in the second half for good measure, this time on a tipped ball that he tried to force in for a short gain on 1st-and-10.

Cousins-Elway comparisonsYeah, no.

Terrance Plummer — Let RB Rashad Jennings get through for a blocked punt, and was then called for holding on a fair catch. All while wearing London Fletcher’s number. May never see the field again.

Jay Gruden — A win would’ve been huge for him, but it was off the rails from the start.

The front seven — No pressure, no sacks.

Matt Jones — The only thing of consequence that he did was fumble it over the goal line for a touchback.

Alfred Morris — Six carries, and he was second fiddle.

DeAngelo Hall — Suffered a non-contact injury.

Trenton Robinson — I barely know who he is, but he got trucked by Andre Williams. Shades of Brandon Jacobs-over-LaRon Landry.


Jordan Reed — Was still a steady threat in the passing game, but also negated a big play with a pick penalty on the opening drive.

Bashaud Breeland — Had some trouble with ODB, but who doesn’t?

Shawn Lauvao — Showed how valuable he is to the O-line by getting hurt in the early going.

Chris Thompson — Racked up some good garbage-time stats.

Sweet play-action fake image taken with love from @BrendanPorath.

Redskins-Giants Predictions

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As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 3. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Chris Mottram: Giants, 27-24

The Skins pass defense has been shockingly competent so far, although its only faced Foles and Tannehill. I too fear the ODB on Sunday, but if the Skins keep running the ball and Cousins keeps not throwing to the wrong team, they have a might actually win! But of course they won’t.

Matt Terl: Giants, 18-17

It is a mistake-filled slog that is difficult to watch, although more because it’s a Thursday night game than because of anything specific to either team.

JP Finlay: Giants, 21-17

Skins keep the game close with the run game. Callahan is a legit difference-maker. But I fear Beckham in this one.

Andy Peden: Giants, 13-10

It’s an ugly, ugly game.

Todd Davis: Giants, 27-17

Respectable performance again, but this game is too important for Giants to have any hope this season.

Jack Kogod: Redskins, 24-17

Redskins win, then lose four of their next five or so.

Jamie Mottram: Giants, 23-17

A must-win game for the Giants? The Redskins in primetime? No thank you.

(If the Skins do pull it out, though, y’all best get out the street ’cause the Bandwagon is coming through.)

Composite prediction: Giants, 21-17

Redskins-Rams Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games. This time a 24-10 win over St. Louis that I watched on DVR in 40 minutes while handling a 1-year-old.

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Kirk Cousins — 85% completions and no picks? Didn’t know Cuz had it in him.

The defense, especially the D-line — I would like to see them keep doing that thing where they allow only 10 points per game.

Matt Jones — Oh, you sexy, 146 yards on 22 touches beast. (That fumble, though.)

The O-line — 182 rushing yards. Kept Cousins clean, too.

Jordan Reed — There was a little debate in our comments last week about him being a top-five tight end. Six catches on six targets for 82 yards today, on pace for 104 catches and 1,160 yards for the season (top-three among TEs in both categories), so … maybe?

Dustin Hopkins — Nailed a 46-yarder and all but one touchback.

Jay Gruden — Oh my God did he need that. We all did.

Transitive properties — St. Louis beat Seattle last week, and Miami lost to Jacksonville today, so … Jaguars > Dolphins > Redskins > Rams > Seahawks.


The NFC East — The Eagles are 0-2. The Giants are 0-2. The Cowboys are 2-0, but Romo broke his collarbone. Meaning, the Redskins are just six wins shy of being 7-9 division champs!


Alfred Morris — It takes a big man to split carries with a rookie.

Ryan Grant — Hey, six targets for the second-year wideout.

Pierre Garcon — Six catches for 23 yards is just weird.

This Team Won’t Make You Happy

Here with a guest post for making the closest Week 1 prediction is Mr. Irrelevant reader/commenter Sam Potasznik.


Last night, some friends and I got off the Metro, and I was shocked to find myself right outside FedEx Field. The streets were empty, and we tossed a football back and forth to each other in peace. No obnoxious drunks? No mile walk in the freezing rain that soaks through your boots and socks? Oh right. I was dreaming.

I could hear the announcers and the crowd, and I could somehow see through the stands to the field. Maybe the stadium was sunk in the ground? I don’t know. Don’t ask me how dreams work.

Inside, the game was starting. We were playing some sort of Vikings-Patriots-Dolphins amalgamation, and Belichick was putting Brady and Bridgewater on the field together at the same time. It was weird, but it was working. We were losing.

I walked under a brick archway and took my seat in the upper deck. There were so few people in the stands, but they were all enjoying themselves and stretching across the empty seats. A guy in my section showed me his novelty glass he got at a bar in New Orleans. For some reason. It was shaped like a rocket ship, and we laughed about it, as you do. The Vikings-Patriots-Dolphins scored, and I was pissed because it wasn’t Jarvis Landry, and I had him on my fantasy team. Even in my dreams I’m bad at fantasy. We were losing.

We were losing, but it didn’t matter. The sun was out. The beer was cold. Sometimes Alfred Morris would do something good.

After waking up from the dream, I feel better about my favorite team than I have in a long time. I immediately threw out the hundreds of blog ideas that had been floating around in my head. Before the season, I was so fed up with everything from swinging gates, to the racist name, to wondering why we support a business that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about us in the first place. But today those frustrations feels smaller.

I decide to follow my dream’s advice for enjoying the season and accept the losses. Jay Gruden won’t make me happy. Kirk Cousins won’t make me happy. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen definitely won’t make me happy. So I’m done expecting them to. We’re going to lose a lot of games this year. Sometimes I’ll watch the games, sometimes I’ll read about them and talk about them with my brothers and friends, and sometimes, maybe, Alfred Morris will do something good.

Redskins-Rams Predictions


As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 2. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Chris Mottram: Rams, 27-17

I watched every minute of Week 1’s game and actually enjoyed it, despite the loss. They moved the ball, played solid defense, and actually looked like a pro football team! But with the already-shitty secondary even more depleted this week, and no DeSean, we’re looking at an 0-2 start. Hopefully it’s at least competitive again.

Matt Terl: Rams, 35-17

God, it’s only Week 2 and I barely care. I assume the Rams humiliate the Skins again — strong defense, Cousins likes to throw interceptions, etc.

JP Finlay: Rams, 30-17

Gregg (extra G for genius) still has something for these ‘Skins. And if you can find a prop bet on Rams STs scoring, hammer it.

Jamie Mottram: Rams, 24-20

You know, the Rams gave up a punt return TD last week too. Of course, they also scored one.

Andy Peden: Rams, 31-18

Glad folks are feeling optimistic. I’m going to be a realist. We scored 10 points, which I’m guessing doesn’t equate to any wins. Now we did only give up 10 points on defense, but unfortunately we still have to play special teams. Guessing the Rams get at least one return for a TD.

Todd Davis: Rams, 34-10

I’m actually kind of afraid for Cousins’ life against Aaron Donald and the Rams front. This is such a terrible matchup for this team compared to the Dolphins. The first time Tavon Austin is isolated in the flat with the human statue that is Trent Murphy is going to be high comedy.

Jack Kogod: Rams, 24-17

I had a great nap during last week’s game. This week I’ll be prepping some massive ribeyes for my brother who is in town from San Diego. Possibly taking another nap when that’s done.

Composite prediction: Rams, 29-17

Redskins-Dolphins Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Redskins games, this time a 17-10 loss to Miami.



Alfred Morris — Always good to see a well-fed FroMo (121 yards on 25 carries). Matt Jones got some too (28 on six), which means they ran it a lot, and effectively. Scored just 10 points, though, zero in the second half.

Brandon ScherffNeutralizing Ndamukong Suh is damn good.

Preston Smith — A sack and a sloppy forced fumble in his debut.

Dolphins fans They exist!


Jay Gruden — The attempted FG on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter comes to mind specifically, but in-game decisions in general don’t seem to be Gruden’s forte.

Special teams — Of course they gave up a punt return TD. Of course! Not that you need it read back to you, but here are the Redskins special teams rankings from 2014 to 2010, according to Football Outsiders: 29th, 32nd, 28th, 21st and 25th.

DeSean JacksonPulled a hammy on their second drive. Aside from Trent Williams, Scherff and maybe Kirk Cousins, that’s the last guy the offense can lose. So, maybe the fourth guy. Still, it’s a loss.

Andre Roberts — Dropped a WR screen, then quit on the play, despite it being a live ball.

Ndamukong SuhC’mon, man. Football is violent enough.

Chris Culliver and Keenan Robinson — Each dropped an INT, though Culliver’s was way worse, given that a) he’s a cornerback, b) it was right in his bread basket and c) he would’ve taken it to the house.



Kirk Cousins — About what you’d expect, although the yards/attempt (6.3) were down from his career average (7.4).

Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed — Disappointments from 2014 were both decent (13 catches on 19 targets for 137 yards and a score).

New return men — Chris Thompson’s one KR went for 36 yards, and Jamison Crowder’s two PR’s went for 23. It’s something!