JU coach Kerwin Bell has seen enough of Butler to understand there is a fourth big boy on the block and the Bulldogs has a 6-0 league-leading PFL record (7-2 overall) to back up his thoughts.
“Everybody looks at San Diego, Drake and us as being favorites, but this team is just as good as any of us,’’ Bell said this week as his team prepared to head to Indianapolis to meet Butler. “They’re as good as anybody out there and they’ve had a great year.’’
Being at the top of the PFL standings isn’t foreign to the Bulldogs who won the league in both 1994 and 2009.
And, even though the Dolphins lead the all-time series 7-0, it’s not like Butler hasn’t given JU fits through the years. Last season, for example, the Dolphins had to score 17 fourth-quarter points to win 34-24.
“We’ve had some tough times the last couple of times we’ve gone up there and we had some good teams,’’ Bell said. “They played us tough here (Jacksonville) last year.’’
Despite a 24-7 loss to San Diego the last time out, the Dolphins had a bye last week, JU (7-2, 4-1) still can gain a share of the league title by winning out.
“We control our destiny, it’s time to go,’’ defensive lineman Chance Smith said. “We can get this done.’’
In order to do that, JU must stop Butler running back Trae Heeter who has 1,078 yards rushing this season and is in the running for PFL Player of the Year. He also has two 200-yard rushing games.
“We have got to take him away first and that will be our priority,’’ Bell said. “We have to make them one dimensional. We have to send a message early.’’
If the Dolphins do take him away, they next must contend with quarterback Matt Lancaster who has completed 62 percent of his passes.
Bell said the weather, expected to be in the 40s with the possibility of rain, won’t be a factor.
“The weather’s not the challenge,’’ he said. “The challenge is trying to stop their offense and for us to get going on offense and play with a lead. But, with our ability to come back on them the last couple of times, that has got to be playing on their minds.’’
Game time is noon and will be broadcast on 92.5FM radio with Terry Norvelle on the call. The pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m.