Sullivan, Smith Back in for JMU Offense

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

James Madison coach Mickey Matthews now expects running back Jamal Sullivan to play Saturday, when the Dukes host top-ranked Richmond.

Matthews had said at his Monday press conference that Sullivan, who missed JMU's loss at Hofstra with a bad knee bruise, probably wouldn't be healthy enough to face the Spiders.

But Sullivan surprised his coach by practicing all week, and Thursday, Matthews said the junior would probably play.

"It'll be two weeks on Saturday. Usually bruises take about ten to 12 days to get over," Matthews said of the injury, suffered at Liberty. "He's healed a little bit quicker because of his youth."

Sullivan started JMU's first three games at tailback. He ran for a career-high 93 yards and a score before getting hurt early in the third quarter at Liberty.

That game was also the last time senior Donny Smith started at center for the Dukes.

But Smith was practicing with the first-team offense Thursday, and Matthews said he expected Smith to return to the starting lineup against the Spiders.

"You want to reward the guys that are practicing really good. We've always done that around here," Matthews explained. "And Donny Smith has really practiced good the last two days, so we're going to play him."

Sophomore Roane Babington shifted from guard to center to replace Smith against Hofstra. A bad snap by Babington with a minute to play cost JMU 20 yards on its final possession, which ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-38.

Matthews said with Smith back in the lineup, Babington would return to left guard, where he had started the first three games. Redshirt freshman Earl Watford made his first career start at left guard against the Pride.

Matthews said the Dukes' inability to settle on a consistent offensive line was not a big concern.

"We have six kids that are pretty close (in ability)," he said. "And it helps your depth when you play different guys."


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