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Opponent Breakdown: James Madison Dukes Offense

NCAA Football: James Madison at Appalachian State David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville recently faced off against one of the most boring offenses in the country in my opinion when Pitt came to town and couldn’t throw the football. Frank Cignetti isn’t very creative in his approach but his brother Curt has a high-powered attack that is innovative and balanced. James Madison may be a run-heavy offense but they will spread you out and throw the ball all over the field. This will be a tough test for an improved Louisville defense.

The key player on this offense is Todd Centeio. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and he is a true dual threat. PFF rated him as the best quarterback in the country and it’s easy to see why. Centeio is among the top twenty or so in yards per game, rating, yards per attempt, and touchdown runs by a quarterback. He has a big arm and he can make any throw you need him to. They have done a great job of stretching the field with deep crossing routes and Centeio has been very accurate on those throws.

When it comes to running the ball, Centeio has really good burst and speed but he is a bigger guy who will likely run through a tackle before he makes someone miss. The Dukes run a good amount of option stuff and he is a threat to keep it and get a big gain. I think this will be the biggest factor in the game for JMU as Louisville has not faced a true run/pass threat from an offense since the USF game. The option ability for this offense just makes it that much more of a concern.

JMU has two running backs that they use and both do a good job of running tough and forcing missed tackles. Percy Agyei-Obese and Latrele Palmer are both tall, and big backs who don’t have great speed but they can get into space and make it hard to stop them from getting chunk plays. The key for Louisville will be to get to these guys before they get going. While they did well to contain Wake Forest’s run game, they did allow them to get too many yards after contact.

The receiver group for the Dukes is very good and will be a good challenge for UofL after a good performance last weekend. Kris Thornton is a Tutu Atwell-sized receiver who plays a similar type of role as a go-to guy who can make big plays after the catch. He is a slot guy who will be hard to track down the field and he is really good at running away from coverage over the middle. I think we’ll hear his name called a lot on Saturday.

Reggie Brown and Terrance Greene are the other two receivers who will be a big factor in the game. JMU likes to spread the ball around and they have five different guys who they like to get involved and they can all stretch the field. UofL will have to mix up coverages and be sticky on these receivers because when they catch the ball, they can get up the field and create big plays.

PFF rates the Dukes’ offensive line as one of the worst in the country when it comes to pass blocking. JMU comes in at 116th in the country and they have given up a good amount of sacks for such a good offense. I tend to think that PFF’s grades are just a data point but I can’t ignore the fact that they are pretty average when it comes to sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed. I think UofL has an opportunity to continue their upswing in sacks, pressures, and interceptions if they can take advantage of this offensive line.