JMU football takes on Morehead State its the first game since the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s been over a year since the JMU football team last played a game, falling just short in the national title game against North Dakota State, but the wait for Dukes is finally nearing an end. JMU opens up the 2021 spring football season on Saturday, February 20th at Bridgeforth Stadium against Morehead State.

When the Dukes take the field they will look a lot different from the team that was playing in Frisco last year, they return just seven starters and will need to replace key players like Ben Dinnuci, Rondell Carter, and John Daka to name just a few. The expectations are still high for J-M-U as both hero and Athlon sports ranked them number 4 in the F-C-S, they are also the favorite to win the C-A-A as they have in 3 of the last 4 years.

The Dukes will enter their second season under Head Coach Curt Ciggnetti with a new starting Quarterback, Redshirt Senior Cole Johnson, who beat out Junior Gage Maloney for the starting spot. As a backup, the last four seasons, the 6-5 Johnson has appeared in 22 games and thrown for 1,099 yards and six touchdowns; he's also rushed for 113 yards and two scores.

Johnson will lead an offense that will have a lot of new faces, but he will have two key returns to help him out in senior All-Americans Offensive tackle Liam Fordanel, and Running Back Percy AGYEI-OBESE. Agyei-Obese will be the offense's top returning weapon, as he was fifth in the F-C-S in rushing, putting up 1,216 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’ll be running behind a line headed by Fordanel, a two-year starter, and NFL hopeful.

As for the defense, the Dukes return just a few starters, most notably a pair of seniors in safety Wayne Davis and Defensive Lineman Mike Greene. Last year Davis had 62 tackles, including 8 and a half tackles for loss and 1 and a half sacks. He also had 2 interceptions and a forced fumble. Grenne is the top player returning in the defensive front as he had 7 and a half sacks and 11 tackles for loss last year.

The Dukes will need big production out of some new faces this year, especially in the receiving core, where they don’t return any player who had more than 30 receptions last year. New players will need to step up for the Dukes pass rush as well, as no returning player besides Greene had more than 2 sacks last year.

J-M-U will play an 8 game schedule that includes non-conference home games against Morehead State and Robert Morris, before 3 C-A-A home and homes with Elon, William & Mary, and Richmond. For Dukes Sportscenter, I’m Colby Johnson.