Holgorsen: JMU a "Bigger Challenge" Than Marshall - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Holgorsen: JMU a "Bigger Challenge" Than Marshall


Dana Holgorsen has never been one to mince his words. He rarely holds back his true thoughts on just about any issue, ranging from how he feels about his own players to the challenges that his team faces heading into that week's game.

On Monday, the West Virginia football coach joined the Big 12 teleconference and previewed his upcoming opponent, James Madison. In doing so, he gave his analysis of how the Dukes will compare to the only other team the Mountaineers have taken on this season, Marshall.

"We're anticipating this being a bigger challenge than what we faced a week ago," Holgorsen said.

It was a dig at the in-state rival, but also a nod to the Virginia neighbor. Holgorsen knows that his team is expected to win this weekend, and to win big, because it is up against an FCS program. But the things that have made JMU the No. 5 team in that level of play are what have Holgorsen concerned about Saturday's matchup.

"Defensively is kind of what they're known for. They've been a top 20 team defensively for as long as Coach [Mickey] Matthews has been there," Holgorsen said. "The middle linebacker is as good of a player as I've seen on tape in quite some time. He makes a ton of tackles and he's extremely active."

Holgorsen says that by his count, JMU's defense has only missed 10 tackles in two games, which is something that he cannot say about his own players in their lone contest.

James Madison is a program that understands what it takes to defeat a team in the FBS. The Dukes did that two years ago in a game against Virginia Tech and they have come close when matched up with other programs. Matthews may try to sell his team short in the media this week, but behind closed doors, he is giving them all the reasons to be confident heading into the Washington Redskins' stadium.

"We talked about [the Virginia Tech game] yesterday quite a bit. That's one of the games that we told them about," says Holgorsen. "We also talked about that already this year, there have been six FCS conference teams that have beaten FBS conference teams. It's going to happen again and we need to do everything that we can to make sure it doesn't happen to us."

Holgorsen is confident that his team will not be lured into overlooking any opponent, as they have seen in recent years what can result if they did.

This is game two, in week three. The players and the coaches are excited for the opportunity to go back out on the field and continue to prove that they are worthy of a top 10 ranking with just two non-conference games remaining before the Mountaineers take on the Big 12.

For now, the focus is only on James Madison and what the Dukes do well, regardless of the level at which they compete.

"The thing that stands out more than anything is just the effort that they play with," says Holgorsen. "Their schemes are sound, they have as good of players at that level as probably anybody that exists there. It'll definitely be a challenge for us."

A bigger challenge, apparently, than the Thundering Herd. Or perhaps that, too, is just coach speak on game week.

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