The much anticipated 2013 football season has arrived for Jacksonville University and the Dolphins are poised to take advantage of the opportunity at traditional FCS power Delaware.
"We're expecting to play our best game from the opening kickoff," said head coach Kerwin Bell. "Our senior leadership has been outstanding, which led to us having probably our best fall camp since I've been here."
On top of the senior leadership, the Dolphins have experience and depth on both sides of the ball returning 16 starters across the field. The experience is expected to show for JU as Delaware is no stranger to success on the football field.
"Delaware has a great tradition and is one of the top 10 all-time FCS programs," said Bell who has led the Dolphins to 43 wins in his first five years on the sidelines.
"They've played for and won a number of national championships. It's going to be a big challenge for us, but our kids have been in this position before having played top programs such as Appalachian State, Old Dominion and Georgia Southern over the past few seasons."
Playing the opening night of college football the Dolphins can expect an energetic crowd of 20,000-plus for the debut of Delaware head coach Dave Brock.
"We've had crowd noise at practice all week, Bell said. "I expect our kids to handle themselves very well in a terrific football environment. We know that we need to execute at a high level to put ourselves in position to win the game. Our kids are up to the challenge."
Bell's message to his players this week was simple.
"I told them how proud I was for the commitment they've made to this team. They've dedicated themselves on the field, in the classroom and in the weight room."
"The most important thing they can do Thursday night is to go out and have fun. This is an opportunity to showcase their ability against one of the top FCS programs on their home field. They've done what they need to do to get ready for this game, now its time to perform at a high level and come home with a win."
Kickoff time is set for 7:30 pm.
Dolphin fans can listen on 92.5 FM as the new voice of JU Football Richard Miller and Brian Freshley bring you all the action.
- 2013 marks the 16th year for Jacksonville University football
- For the first time in league history the Pioneer Football League regular season champion will receive an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs this season
- August 29th marks the earliest start in school history for JU; the Dolphins only other game in the month of August was a 20-7 win at Savannah State on Aug. 30, 2008
- JU is a Pioneer Football League best 32-8 in PFL games over the past five seasons
- The game is only the 2nd time since 2000 CAA and PFL teams have squared off (James Madison def. Morehead State in 2010)
- JU was picked third in the PFL preseason coaches poll behind San Diego and Butler
- The Dolphins have experience on offense returning 10 starters. The experience is evermore relevant across the front five where four of the Dolphins five offensive linemen started at least nine games last year (39 in all by the front five). The group which averages 6-3.5 and 295 lbs includes preseason All-PFL selections Dylan Bostick (RT) and Tramell Williams (C)
- The Dolphins had a total of six student-athletes named to the preseason All-PFL team, equaling Butler for the most in the league
- JU led the PFL in fewest yards allowed per game last year: 313.9 (14th nationally) & in fewest passing yards allowed per game: 184.0 (26th nationally). The Dolphins were also first in the PFL with 2.91 sacks per game (14th nationally)
- The defense returns 9 of the top 12 tackle leaders led by Jordan Dewhirst (57 tackles), Juan Pimienta (12.5 TFL, 8.0 sacks) and Luidji Michel (47 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks)
- JU is represented by 92 players from the state of Florida on their roster