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    Friday, December 01, 2023

    UConn at No. 21 James Madison football preview capsule

    Location: Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, Virginia

    Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

    Records: UConn 1-8, James Madison 9-0

    Last game: UConn lost at nationally ranked Tennessee, 59-3, Saturday; James Madison defeated Georgia State, 42-14, Saturday

    Series: UConn trails, 4-1, losing last meeting 48-14 on Oct. 23, 1999 at JMU.

    Players to watch: UConn, r-jr. QB Ta’Quan Roberson (139 for 239, 1,493 yards, 8 TDs, 3 ints), so. RB Victor Rosa (84 carries, 401 yards, 2 TDs) so. RB Cam Edwards (80 carries, 383 yards, 3 TDs), r-sr. OL Christian Haynes, grad WR Brett Buckman (37 catches, 390 yards, 1 TD), r-jr. WR Cam Ross (34 catches, 353 yards, 1 TD), so. TE Justin Joly (34 catches, 408 yards, 1 TD), r-jr. DT Jelani Stafford (31 tackles, eight for loss, 1 fumble recovery, six rushing TDs), r-so. DE Pryce Yates (31 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks), sr. LB Jackson Mitchell (team-best 89 tackles, 1 int.. 1 fumble recovery for a TD), grad LB Noah Plack (43 tackles, 4.5 for loss), jr. DB Durante Jones (57 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack), r-jr. George Caratan (45.3 yards per kick, ranking 18th in the nation)

    James Madison, r-sr. QB Jordan McCloud (176 for 262, 2,330 passing yards, 22 TDs, 7 ints, 6 rushing TDs), r-so. RB Kaelon Black (114 carries, 493 yards, 1 TD), r-sr. RB Ty Son Lawton (91 carries, 441 yards, 4 TDs), so. WR Elijah Sarratt (47 catches, 681 yards, 4 TDs), r-sr. WR Reggie Brown (36 catches 701 yards, 6 TDs), so. LB Aiden Fisher (70 tackles, 1 sack, 1 int, I kick blk), r-so. DE Mikail Kamara (41 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks), r-jr. DT James Carpenter (40 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 int.), r-sr. DE Jamree Kromah (36 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 8 sacks)

    Noteworthy: James Madison, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, is one of seven undefeated teams at the FBS level. The Dukes are in their second year transitioning from the FCS to FBS level.

    Quoteable: “This has been a year full of a lot of challenges on many different levels,” UConn coach Jim Mora said. “Our schedule has been challenging. Every team we’ve played is either bowl eligible or still fighting for a bowl bid. Those challenges have promoted some growth. … This year, for sure, it hasn’t turned up in the win-loss column. But there’s processes that you have to go through when you’re rebuilding a program. This has been a painful process. At the end of the day, it’s going to benefit this program in the long run.”

    Four down territory

    • UConn will be trying to run the ball against the nation’s best rushing defense. The Dukes have allowed an average of 59.7 yards per game on the ground.

    • Another challenge for the Huskies will be protecting the quarterback. The Dukes have racked up 41 sacks this season and average a nation’s best 4.5 per game. But they lost defensive lineman Jalen Green (knee) for the season last week. He led the nation in sacks with 15.5.

    • After piling up a season high 38 points in a road win at Rice on Oct. 7, the Huskies have scored just 38 points in the last three games. So the Huskies, who are averaging 17.9 points per game, will have to find a way to jump-start their offense.

    • In a related matter, tight end Justin Joly is one of the team’s most reliable receivers. He had a career-high eight receptions for 89 yards last week at Tennessee. He’ll need to have another productive day to improve his team’s odds of winning.

    Extra points: Mora has never lost more than four games in his previous seven years coaching on the college level. The Huskies will need to win their final three games to finish with four victories. … UConn has lost 12 straight road games against ranked opponents, last winning at No. 19 Louisville, 23-20, in 2012. … The Huskies are riding a three-game losing streak. … They are 0-1 vs. Sun Belt teams this season, losing at Georgia State, 35-17, earlier this season. … Up next: UConn hosts Sacred Heart in the regular-season home finale Nov. 18 in East Hartford.

    Gavin Keefe

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