JMU seeking offensive improvement, better red zone results

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:06 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The James Madison football team has struggled to score touchdowns over the last few weeks.

JMU scored just two combined TDs in road wins over Richmond and Delaware after getting shut out in the second half of a one-point loss to Villanova. JMU kicker Ethan Ratke kicked nine field goals in the victories over the Spiders and Blue Hens, six of them coming from 37 yards or less. James Madison currently ranks 37th in the FCS in Red Zone Offense with 15 touchdowns and 11 field goals made in 31 trips. JMU is tied with Missouri State for the second most red zone field goals in the country.

“There’s no doubt, we gotta score some touchdowns in the red (zone),” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti. “There will probably be a big parade when we do.”

After performing as one of the best offenses in the country through the first few games of the season, the Dukes’ attack has been slowed in recent weeks. In the games at Richmond and Delaware, James Madison averaged just 4.75 yards per play, a full yard below JMU’s season average of 5.75 YPP.

“When they are dropping eight (players in coverage), especially in the red zone, there’s not many holes in coverage,” said JMU redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson. “So try to get ahead of the chains in first and second down so it’s not third and long and we are kind of throwing it in an obvious throwing situation.”

Cignetti added: “Staying ahead of the sticks is the name of the game. It would be nice to avoid the red area, make a few more explosive plays...But when we do get down there, and we want be to down there a lot, we gotta be able to pound it in.”

No. 5 James Madison (6-1 Overall, 4-1 CAA) is scheduled to host Elon for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium.

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