JMU headed west for top-10 matchup with Weber State

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:56 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The James Madison football team is preparing for one of its toughest games of the 2021 season.

The No. 3-ranked Dukes head west later this week to take on No. 9 Weber State in Ogden, Utah. It marks the first-ever game for JMU in the Mountain Time Zone and the first time James Madison has played a game west of Texas or North Dakota.

“That’s a money game,” said JMU redshirt junior linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey. “This is what we play the sport for, so we really excited. We got a big challenge on our hands, facing some adversity going all the way to Utah but we built for it, we ready.”

JMU and Weber State have met twice before, with both matchups coming as FCS playoff games in Harrisonburg. The Dukes rallied to beat the Wildcats in FCS Quarterfinals in 2017 before defeating them again in the FCS Semifinals during the 2019 season.

“This really is the next opponent,” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti. “I think everybody understands Weber (State), what their tradition is and their history, going out there and matchup and this and that and what it’s going to take.”

James Madison enters Saturday night’s contest coming off a pair of blowout wins over Morehead State (68-10) and Maine (55-7). Meanwhile, Weber State defeated Dixie State (41-3) in week two after a week one loss to nationally-ranked FBS opponent Utah (40-17).

“Everything we want to get done is still in front of us so we’ve got to go out there and play our game,” said JMU redshirt senior wide receiver Scott Bracey. “That’s kind of how we are preparing every day, staying true to ourselves and going out there and playing our game.”

Kickoff Saturday night is set for 8 p.m. (eastern). The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

JMU boasts one of nation’s best passing offenses

James Madison has one of the best passing attacks in the country through the first few weeks of the season. The Dukes ranked No. 2 in the nation in passing efficiency and fourth in passing offense.

“Up to this point, we have probably had a little bit more passing success or throwing the ball a little bit more than we have in the past,” said Cignetti. “Doesn’t mean our identity has changed at all. I think maybe what it means is we have a lot of confidence in our quarterback and our wide receivers and tight ends and we’re using our running back in the pass game more than we have in the past.”

Sixth-year senior quarterback Cole Johnson has been one of the best passers in the country. He ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency with a mark of 225.12 and has thrown nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“My focus in the offseason was kind of just eliminating those plays where there isn’t something there and you just throw it up or having my eyes in the right spot,” said Johnson. “I feel a lot more comfortable and confident going into this season obviously than last season, having all those games under my belt.”

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