2019 James Madison vs Rhode Island | CAA Football

James Madison Roars Into Regular Season Finale vs. Rhode Island

James Madison Roars Into Regular Season Finale vs. Rhode Island

With a CAA championship already in hand, JMU rolls into the regular season finale aiming to complete a perfect conference season.

Nov 21, 2019 by Kyle Kensing

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With a Colonial Athletic Association championship already in hand, James Madison rolls into the regular season finale aiming to complete a perfect conference season.

Who: No. 2 James Madison (10-1, 7-0 CAA) at Rhode Island (2-9, 0-7 CAA) 

When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET 

Where: Meade Stadium; Kingston, R.I.

Watch: LIVE on FloFootball

The Dukes sewed up an outright title with a blowout win over Richmond last week, their 10th consecutive victory of 2019. James Madison is undefeated against FCS competition and can solidify home-field advantage all the way to Frisco with a win Saturday over Rhode Island. 

At first glance, James Madison’s Week 13 opponent could not be more of a polar opposite. Host Rhode Island is winless in the CAA, trying to avoid its 10th loss of the campaign. To call the Rams the best two-win team in college football might seem a backhanded compliment, but it’s not. 

Rhode Island lost Colonial games to Delaware in triple overtime; New Hampshire on a last-second field goal; Stony Brook on a 50-yard, fourth-down scramble – and that was all just in September. 

Add a one-score loss to CAA second-place UAlbany, and Maine’s two-touchdown comeback to beat the Rams last week, and Rhode Island is quite literally five possessions away from this week being about finalizing its playoff case. 

And that’s only accounting for Rhode Island’s play against CAA competition. The Rams impressed Justin Fuente, coach of ACC Coastal competitor Virginia Tech, in an October meeting. 

“Rhode Island had a great plan in terms of slowing the game down, holding onto the ball, and using those skills,” Fuente said of the Rams. “Those guys can play for anyone and I still believe that.”

Best vs. Best

One of the best secondaries in the nation – that of James Madison – counters what might be college football’s most elite wide-receiving corps at Rhode Island. The Rams trio of Aaron Parker, Isaiah Coulter and Ahmere Dorsey fuel the nation’s No. 10 passing offense, accounting for the bulk of quarterback Vito Priore’s roughly 300 yards per game. 

James Madison has the pieces of match-up individually, however, countering with playmakers Adam Smith, D’Angelo Amos and even linebacker Dimitri Holloway. 

The Amos-Holloway-Smith trio have combined for 12 pass break-ups, seven interceptions, and 186 tackles. 

Put It All On The Line

The foundation of Rhode Island’s prolific passing attack is a veteran offensive line. Kyle Murphy is a likely NFL draft pick, anchoring the Rams up front. And despite the team’s penchant for the pass, the Rhode Island front has only allowed 23 sacks on the year. That’s a number comparable to James Madison’s yield. 

Conversely, James Madison brings the most tenacious pass-rush in the CAA, if not the entire FCS. John Daka (fifth in the nation with 11 sacks) and Ron’Dell Carter (tied for 35th with 7.5 sacks) both deserve Buck Buchanan Award consideration – and that’s without factoring in the All-American resume of interior lineman Mike Greene. 

Rhode Island running back Naim Jones is coming off a performance against a similarly sack-hungry defense in Maine, in which he rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams need a similar effort to free up the quarterback from heavy duress.  

Mid-Game Constriction

Rhode Island’s been able to get out to fast starts, even in losses. The Rams need to do so again, otherwise risk being susceptible to James Madison’s mid-game constriction. 

The Dukes have a knack for suffocating opponents in the second and third quarters, last week outscoring Richmond 28-6 over those periods; a week prior against New Hampshire, the deluge was 34-6. 

Such is the MO, befitting James Madison’s physical brand of football. The Dukes wear opponents down and can turn what seems like a competitive game into a romp in just a few possessions. 

Rhode Island needs to hit big on quick strikes and score at every opportunity. That includes special teams, where the electrifying Dorsey is an elite returner.