CAA coaches praise JMU football

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BALTIMORE, Md. -- During Tuesday's CAA Football Media Day, WHSV asked multiple CAA coaches about the James Madison football team.

The Dukes have been picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association in the conference's preseason poll. JMU earned 20 of 24 first-place votes.

Led by first-year head coach Curt Cigentti, JMU opens the 2019 season Saturday, August 31 at West Virginia.

CAA opposing coaches' comments about JMU football
Chuck Priore - Stony Brook Head Coach
"They're a tough opponent when you play them (at Bridgeforth Stadium). I finally get to play them (at Stony Brook) which I haven't had in the last four opportunities. I think their kids love playing the game. They've learned how to win at a high level. They've always won but they have learned how to win at a high level and I think when plays need to be made during the game, I think their kids have made the plays. Each and every week, they bring to the table their best."

Russ Huesman - Richmond Head Coach
"I think the number of returning starters, right off the bat, is key. Sometimes you return a bunch of starters and you're not any good. You're probably trying to replace them. I don't believe they are trying to replace all the returning starters they have this year. They're good all the way across the board. They play great defense. They're the team to beat in the league. I don't think there is any question about that."

Sean McDonnell - New Hampshire Head Coach
"They've got a lot of good football players returning. I think, again, it's quarterback and defense. The quarterback position at JMU has been very good. Last year there were highs and lows with (QB Ben DiNucci) but when he was really, really good, he was one of the best ones in the league. Consistent play from that position is the most important thing. Then you just look at defensively, they have four guys on the (preseason) All-Conference team on the defensive side of the ball. They got (Rashad) Robinson returning at corner. It ain't hard to figure out. They got a punt returner (D'Angelo Amos). They got good players, they got good coaches, good people. They got a chance to be really good. All the coaches realize that."

Rob Ambrose - Towson Head Coach
"I think historically their institution has taken football and made it their spotlight. They are allowing football to be the light that shines on all the academic and social things that is James Madison University and makes it a great institution. Their investment compared to the rest of the league is a much greater investment. Call it what it is. Because of it, everybody is chasing them. Their stadium is the biggest. They have cost-of-attendance. There is a reason we have to chase them. But I have yet to find anybody who gets chased forever that doesn't get caught."

Mark Ferrante - Villanova Head Coach
"They had the season they had last year. They have a lot returning. They were fairly young last year. I remember (former JMU head coach) Mike Houston talking about that. They had that run of winning the national championship and then getting to the final again then they did graduate some guys. I don't know if (Houston) was considering last year a rebuild or whatever but it doesn't seem like they have to do much rebuilding. It seems like they just add guys in there and just do more repeating than rebuilding. So, we'll see. They do have a lot of guys back from what I understand."