Stinnie: Dukes focused on Villanova, not GameDay

HARRISONBURG, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- There aren't a lot of FCS-level college football players who have experienced a campus visit from ESPN's "College GameDay" prior to a key home game.

Saint Anne's-Belfield alum Aaron Stinnie, now a fifth-year senior offensive lineman at James Madison, is one of them. With the 5-0 Dukes ranked No. 1 in the country and riding a 17-game winning streak, the pregame show will broadcast from Harrisonburg on Saturday, priore to JMU's game against No. 11 Villanova.

Stinnie was a redshirt sophomore two seasons ago, the first time GameDay was televised from the JMU Quad.

"You've just got to block out the hype, really," Stinnie said. "You hear it over here all the time, but you've just got to put that out to the side and focus on the game."

That wasn't the approach the Dukes took two years ago under then-coach Everett Withers. The team was on-hand as Withers made an appearance on the show that October morning. A few hours later, JMU's unbeaten start to the season ended with a 59-49 loss to Richmond.

"It was a lot of excitement going on," Stinnie recalled this week. "We put a lot of focus onto that, a lot of people were talking about it all the time, thinking about it.

"We're not trying to put a lot of focus on GameDay. That's here for the fans."

Stinnie says the team will spend this Saturday at a hotel far away from the GameDay excitement. He isn't sure he'll even watch the show on television on Saturday morning.

A preseason FCS All-American, Stinnie has started all 32 games for the Dukes since moving from defense to the offensive line prior to the 2015 season. Last year at left tackle, Stinnie earned first-team All-CAA honors while helping the Dukes win the FCS national title and set multiple school records on offense.

Through five games this year, JMU is fourth in FCS in total offense at 517.4 yards per game, fifth in scoring offense at 41.8 points per game, and seventh in rushing offense at 289.8 yards per game.

JMU's 17-game winning streak -- tied with Richmond in 2008-09 for the longest all-time for a CAA team -- includes last November's 20-7 win at Villanova that clinched the Dukes' fifth conference championship.

"Being that it was such a big battle last year, I think that we go into this game knowing that we're probably going to get the same type of battle," Stinnie said. "So we've got to have our mindset in the right place."



 
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