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With end of schedule erased, James Madison in search of CAA game

With end of schedule erased, James Madison in search of CAA game

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Robert Morris James Madison Football

James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti paces his sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Robert Morris in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)

James Madison football is in search of a conference game for this weekend.

But, to this point, the program’s luck has been slim.

The Dukes, who on Monday remained the No. 1 team in the country in the STATS FCS Top 25 for the sixth week in a row despite another idle weekend, would like to secure a fill-in for what was supposed to be a home contest against Elon.

But that game was postponed last week due to COVID-19 protocols at Elon, as was the team’s game this past Saturday at Richmond, due to COVID-19 protocols at UR.

That’s left JMU (4-0, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) with no matchups on its slate at the moment.

“Right now we’re on standby,” coach Curt Cignetti said Monday morning.

The Dukes in March had home games against Richmond and William & Mary postponed due to COVID-19 cases within their program. Neither of those have been rescheduled. Richmond coach Russ Huesman said Monday that he anticipates Saturday’s UR-William & Mary game to be his squad’s last regular-season contest, and William & Mary coach Mike London said the same of his team.

There’s just this weekend and next left to play before the FCS playoff bracket is finalized and announced on April 18.

In the current, modified spring season, teams have to play a minimum of four games to be eligible for at-large bids, a criteria JMU meets. But the team currently doesn’t meet the minimum of three CAA contests played to be eligible for the league’s automatic bid.

This past Thursday, the NCAA Division I Football Committee released its top 10 rankings ahead of the official bracket release later this month, and JMU was No. 1.

Asked Monday if he feels his team needs to play at least one more game ahead of the playoffs, for playoff readiness, Cignetti said he’s not looking that far ahead.

Meanwhile, Cignetti said JMU director of athletics Jeff Bourne has been aggressive on the phone as the Dukes seek a game. JMU’s preference would be to play at home. It hasn’t hosted a CAA game this season.

“Now that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t entertain options outside of that,” Cignetti said.

Whenever the Dukes do play again, more players should be available. After JMU’s COVID-19 pause, the team was missing players in its last game, at William & Mary on March 27.

But Cignetti said Monday that his team, as it stood, should be free and clear.

As for the Dukes’ schedule this week, for now without a game, they were set to do weight lifting Monday then head out to the field for some individual work and running. They will practice on Tuesday, lift on Wednesday, practice on Thursday and do skill development on Friday.

Otherwise, they wait.

“As long as our mindset is right,” Cignetti said, “I’m confident that we can get a team ready to play a game, whenever that day is.”

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