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The James Madison offense: 3 guys to watch

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JMU will have a new quarterback this year, and he’ll have good support around him.

Pittsburgh v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Camp is over and NC State is beginning its prep for the season-opener against James Madison, so in that spirit, here is a glance at some of the guys you’re likely to see featured prominently come Sept. 1. We’re almost there!

Quarterback Ben DiNucci

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because some part of your brain remembers him from his time at Pittsburgh—and last year’s game against NC State. Funny how things work out.

DiNucci got more reps than any other Pitt quarterback last season, but he struggled, averaging only 6.9 yards per attempt while completing a modest 55.7% of his passes. He threw as many picks as touchdown passes (5).

He left for JMU after last season in search of a more promising situation, and he definitely has one. He’s also been in a battle with junior Cole Johnson for the starting job, but I suspect that DiNucci’s experience will win out. But will he be any better than the guy we saw last year?

Running back Marcus Marshall

NC State has depth problems at running back, but James Madison not so much. Marcus Marshall was a big part of the Dukes’ committee approach last season, and he’ll have a big 2018 if the Dukes get anything approximating a decent passing game from their new quarterback.

Marshall spent his first two college seasons at Georgia Tech, rolling up over 1,200 career rushing yards. Last season was his first in a JMU uniform, and he went for 850 yards while averaging nearly six yards per carry.

Wide receiver Riley Stapleton

The Dukes would rather run the ball than pass it, as a general rule, but you can bet that when they do get into certain passing situations—in the red zone especially—they will rely on Stapleton, who led the team with five touchdown receptions in 2017.

Stapelton’s primary asset is his size—he’s 6’5 and 229 pounds. He can win physical battles with defensive backs, and he’s the sort to which you can throw a jump ball and reasonably expect him to win it. He caught 42 passes for 615 yards last season.