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JMU could be without five key linemen vs. Liberty
James Madison coach Mickey Matthews said Monday his team’s 21-16 victory over Virginia Tech 10 days ago left the Dukes battered and bruised, adding it’s a good thing they had this past weekend off.
Even with the open date, Matthews said his No. 3-ranked team still may be without three defensive linemen and two offensive linemen when JMU hosts No. 21 Liberty on Saturday.
“We’re a bit beat up, and I don’t know how many of them we’ll get back for Liberty,” Matthews said. “The game with Virginia Tech was very physical… These are five good football players who didn’t practice at all last week. And I’m not a fan of playing someone who hasn’t practiced.”
The injured: DE Sean O’Neill (cracked rib), DE Aaron Harper (ankle), DT Nick Emmons (ankle), G Earl Watford (knee) and T Theo Sherman (groin).
Matthews isn’t taking Liberty lightly. “This is their Super Bowl, to come play us,” Matthews said, “much like it was our Super Bowl to go play at Virginia Tech.”
A test for Villanova
Villanova celebrated its 2009 championship Saturday when the Wildcats routed Towson 43-7 in front of a sellout home crowd of 12,111.
A more somber approach will be taken this week as the Wildcats, the top-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, host rival Penn. The Quakers, favored to win the Ivy League, lost a team captain when Owen Thomas hanged himself at the end of the spring semester.
Thomas’ family allowed Boston University doctors to study his brain, and the results, released last week, indicated Thomas was in the early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has been linked to depression and impulse control. ESPN did a segment this past week on his case.
Thomas had never been diagnosed as having a concussion, but had played football since he was 9, and doctors believe the repeated little hits added up to cause the brain damage.
“We wish we could have Owen back,” his mother, Kim Brearley, told The Associated Press. ” If his death could have a legacy of making youth football safer for young people, it would be wonderful.”
“Penn is playing for a fallen student athlete,” Villanova coach Andy Talley said Monday. “We here know how they feel. We had a player a few years ago, David Reid, who drowned in a neighborhood pool, and it affected us throughout the season…. The day David died was one of the darkest days of my career.
“I think Penn is channeling its energy in a proper way.”
New Blue Hen streaking
True freshman running back Andrew Pierce continues to rack up yards for Delaware and became the first Blue Hen to rush for 100 yards in each of his first three games. He’s been the CAA Rookie of the Week all three weeks and was the Player of the Week this time.
Saturday, he ran for 200 yards on 16 carries in a 30-6 victory over Duquesne. The Blue Hens are 3-0 as they head to Richmond this Saturday for the first really big CAA game of the season.
“Andrew adds a new dimension,” Delaware coach K.C. Keeler said. “He’s just a natural runner.”
The CAA has five teams in the top eight this week in The Sporting Network’s Top 25 Football Championship Subdivision poll: No. 1 Villanova, No. 3 James Madison, No. 5 Richmond, No. 7 Delaware and No. 8 William and Mary.
By Rich Radford, The Virginian-Pilot