JMU's Thorpe: Performance at Delaware "A Great Boost"

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

Justin Thorpe gained some fans after his performance in James Madison's 20-8 upset win at Delaware last weekend.

But JMU coach Mickey Matthews isn't quite ready to jump on his redshirt freshman quarterback's bandwagon yet.

"That was just one half. I don't know if he's going to play like Sonny Jurgenson the rest of the season," Matthews said Tuesday. "But there's no question that he gained some confidence Saturday."

Thorpe threw for a career-high 262 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-15 passing at Delaware, including 229 yards after halftime. He also ran for 42 yards and another score, on his way to CAA Offensive Player of the Week recognition.

"He's going to be a better player the rest of the way, and I'm sure he'll improve each game," Matthews said. "But to ask him to do that all the time I think is a little out of the question."

Thorpe started the season rotating series with junior Drew Dudzik. But last week, Matthews said Thorpe hadn't looked the same since Dudzik suffered a season-ending broken foot against Richmond October 10.

Thorpe's 12-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter at Delaware marked the first time JMU's offense found the endzone since Dudzik's injury, a drought that spanned 12 quarters. Saturday's win ended a four-game losing streak.

"I think we've seen the lack of it the last three or four games," Matthews said when asked the importance of confidence in a young quarterback like Thorpe. "When you're playing a guy that doesn't have confidence, how your offense struggles."

"It's a great boost. It feels good," Thorpe said Tuesday. "My confidence has risen a little bit, and feel pretty good going into the passing game and the rushing game."

Thorpe said he felt "a lot more" comfortable at Delaware compared to previous weeks.

"When you first start off, it's moving pretty fast. And all the guys are fast, big and strong," Thorpe said. "And after a couple games, things started really slowing down.

"I relaxed in the pocket," he explained. "When I rolled out I took my time, set my feet and made good throws."

"The thing we've talked to Justin about, he needs to take what he does in practice into the Saturday games. And that's easier said than done," said Matthews.

"He does some great things out here in practice. He just hasn't been able to translate that into a Saturday performance," Matthews continued. "And he did that up at Delaware, so hopefully he'll continue to do that for the rest of the season."


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