Dukes Looking Forward to Saturday's Trip to Virginia Tech

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

By the time he hit the practice field Tuesday afternoon, James Madison quarterback Drew Dudzik had watched Monday's Boise State-Virginia Tech game three times.

"They're pretty good on defense. They're really fast, and they fly to the ball," said Dudzik, whose Dukes visit the 13th-ranked Hokies Saturday. "We've got to have a good week of preparation, and get ready to go."

Like Dudzik, most JMU players watched at least part of Monday's national telecast of Virginia Tech's heartbreaking 33-30 loss to the Broncos.

The Hokies rallied from a 17-0 first quarter hole to take the lead in the second half. But Kellen Moore's 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 remaining was the game winner for No. 3 Boise State.

"I'm sure, like everybody else, that it might get out of hand, which it was looking like," said junior strong safety Vidal Nelson. "But I know a lot of guys on that team. I knew they had some fight in them, so I wasn't surprised when they started coming back."

"I think they'll be pretty fired up after losing like that," said senior defensive lineman Nick Emmons. "They definitely have something to prove through the rest of their season, and that starts with us. So we've got to be ready for them.

"They're definitely going to be ready to play," said Dudzik. "They're well coached, and they've got a lot of great players. I know they're going to be ready to get after us, and we're going to be ready to play, too."

JMU opened its season with a 48-7 win over Morehead State at home. As a result, the Dukes climbed to No. 11 in the FCS coaches poll and No. 12 in the Sports Network poll this week. They began the season ranked 15th in both polls.

But this week, JMU must contend with an offense led by senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and a pair of ACC-record-breaking running backs in Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.

"I think that it'll be good for our team. And especially good for our defense, considering the type of offense they have," said Nelson.

"I think it's a huge challenge, and we've really got to step up," agreed Emmons. "But I think we can make a big statement if we come down there and compete like we can."

On Monday, head coach Mickey Matthews said, "they're not paying us $450,000 to go down and beat them," referring to the sum Virginia Tech is paying JMU for Saturday's game.

But Matthews' players said Tuesday that they're looking forward to getting their shot at the Hokies.

"Actually for me, this is what I've been waiting for since I got to JMU, hoping they'd put us on the schedule," said Nelson. "But I think most of the guys out here, I can speak for them, and say they're just as excited."

"It's pretty cool. I was getting excited when they were playing 'Enter Sandman', knowing we're going to get to be down in Blacksburg this weekend," said Dudzik. "It's a great opportunity for our team. We've got nothing to lose."

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