Consecutive road wins builds JMU’s confidence

James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti discusses what he's learned from his team during the Dukes current road trip.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 1:32 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - James Madison has played two of their first three games on the road in hostile environments. Yet, they’ve managed to come away victorious both times.

Troy was the latest victim to JMU as the Dukes defeated the Trojans 16-14. The loss snapped Troy’s eight-game home win streak.

“Really proud of our team to find a way to come out on top,” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti during Monday’s Sun Belt Football Media Conference Call. “It’s really hard in college football to win two big games in a row, back-to-back, let alone on the road.”

What’s more impressive is JMU has found different ways to win. At Virginia on Sept. 9, the Dukes offense had to step up, winning a 36-35 shootout. This past weekend, offense was tough to come by for both teams. It was the JMU defense that came up with huge stops.

“It should only help our confidence and affirm how important our preparation is and being physically and mentally ready to play Saturday,” said Cignetti.

The Dukes complete their three-game road trip this weekend when they take on Utah State from the Mountain West Conference.

“This will be a hard game just like the other two were,” said Cignetti. “It’s going to take everything we have.”

Pass defense makes strides

The JMU run defense has been stout early in the season and the pass defense showed signs of matching the run defense at Troy.

“There were good plays made on the back end,” said Cignetti. “They had some big plays and there’s some things we got to tighten up and fix still, mainly at boundary corner and some at weak safety. We still have to improve in that area. It’s a point of emphasis.”

Injury Latest

Cignetti offered no update on linebackers Jailin Walker and Taurus Jones. Both players missed Saturday’s game at Troy. Offensive lineman Tyshawn Wyatt left in the middle of Saturday’s game. No update was offered on Wyatt either.

Wise earns conference special teams honor

Kicker Cameron Wise was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Wise made all three of his field goal attempts, matching a career-high.

It marks the second-straight week a JMU player has earned special teams player of the week honors. Linebacker Aiden Fisher received the award for blocking a punt last week at Virginia.

Postgame celebration

Cignetti addressed a video that surfaced on social media showing JMU defensive line coach Pat Kuntz taunting the Troy fanbase following Saturday’s win. Kuntz was seen flashing an imaginary championship belt and shouting to the Troy crowd.

“It’s not what our program’s about. It’s not what I preach,” said Cignetti.

Cignetti says was disappointed to see what happened and the situation has been addressed.

“[Pat’s] embarrassed. He let the emotions get the best of him,” said Cignetti. “He’s a good person. Good coach. He made a poor decision. I can promise you nobody feels worse about it than Pat does right now.”

Game time vs South Alabama announced

The Sun Belt Conference announced the homecoming game on Sept. 30 against South Alabama will kickoff at noon. The game will be televised on ESPNU.