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Dukes look to improve rushing attack, balance on offense

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:07 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The James Madison football team is looking to improve the efficiency of its rushing attack.

“I’d like to be able to run the ball a little bit more effectively,” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti. “But if the (Run-Pass Options) are there, we’ll always take those.”

The Dukes are averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game by racking up 197.2 yards per contest on the ground. However, JMU was limited to just 3.6 yards per carry in Saturday’s loss to Villanova after gaining only 3.5 yards per carry in a close win at New Hampshire the previous week. The Dukes ran the ball 92 times total compared to 84 combined passing attempts in the games against Villanova and New Hampshire.

“I just think running the football is an attitude,” said Cignetti, whose teams have been known to feature physical, run-first offenses throughout his career.

While JMU wants to improve its rushing attack, Cignetti says the Dukes are also working to find balance in each week’s offensive game plan. Redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson is completing 71.2% of his passes to go along with 14 touchdown passes and just one interception.

“We do want to be balanced,” said Cignetti. “We have weapons on the outside, we have a quarterback that makes good decisions and can spread the ball around.”

No. 8 JMU is scheduled to visit Richmond for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday.

Fornadel could return for Dukes later this season

Cignetti said Monday that All-American offensive lineman Liam Fornadel could potentially return to the field later this season.

“We expect to get him back by the end of the season,” said Cignetti.

Fornadel is currently out with a knee injury that he suffered in JMU’s season-opening win over Morehead State. It was first believed to be a season-ending injury for the redshirt senior tackle but now he’s expected to return to the lineup.

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