Schedule maker not kind to Jacksonville as San Diego calls in home opener

Schedule maker not kind to Jacksonville as San Diego calls in home opener

Rule regarding the Milne Field Stadium Experience

What happened to the cupcakes? The cream puffs? Mr. Schedule-maker, what have you done?

It would have been nice for the Jacksonville University football team to have cranked up the early part of the season with some tune-ups, but that isn't happening this year. In fact, the early schedule couldn't be much more difficult.

JU (0-1) takes on San Diego (1-0) Saturday in its home opener that will not only inaugurate the renovated D.B. Milne Field complex (1 p.m.), but brings the preseason Pioneer Football League favorite to town in an unusual early-season head banger.

"You probably wouldn't want to (play a team of San Diego's caliber) if you had your rathers," head coach JU Kerwin Bell said. "I think both teams are probably saying 'man, this is pretty early to play two tough opponents'.''

With the exception of a year here or a year there, the Toreros, who were 8-3 last season, and Dolphins have been taking shots at each other from the top of the league. With JU the third-place preseason pick, this week's game could go a long way toward making or break a season.

"They've had the PFL's number the last couple of years,'' JU center Logan Williamson (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) said. "We want to go out there and show them we should be the PFL champions. It's our time now we feel like.''

San Diego opened its season last week with a 23-17 win over Western New Mexico. Running back Jonah Hodges rushed for 127 yards and quarterback Keith Williams threw for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"They match up with us as well as anybody because they have great athletes,'' senior linebacker Jordan Dewhirst (Fort White, Fla.) said. "They've lost some players on both offense and defense but they have some really good running backs and three seniors at receivers. And, they are San Diego and because of that we are getting ready for a tough game.''

Bell said his team's game at third-ranked Southeastern Louisiana two weeks ago was a learning experience. In that game, quarterback Kade Bell (Fleming Island, Fla.) threw for 149 yards with 59 of those going to wide receiver Andy Jones (Clermont, Fla.)

"It was a great test for us, but one thing about playing a great team is you see some areas you need to improve in and that's what we've done in our bye week and this week,'' he said.

Now, a breather would be nice, but it's not in the cards.

"It's unusual to play a conference game so early in the season and it's going to be crucial for both us, but it's good to finally play a team in our conference,'' Bell said. "It's going to be fun.''

 The game will be broadcast on radio 92.5 FM with Scott Manze and David Lamm on the call.

Game Notes

  • The JU women's soccer team and women's rowing teams will be honored at the game for their performances from last season. The soccer team won the Atlantic Sun title and participated in the NCAA Tournament and the rowers took the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference crown and earned a berth in the NCAA regatta
  • This is the ninth meeting between JU and San Diego with the Toreros holding a 5-3 series lead. The teams didn't play last season but San Diego has won the last two meetings, 24-7 in 2012 and 23-14 in 2011.
  • 2014 marks the 17th year for Jacksonville University football and the eighth under Head Coach Kerwin Bell.
  • Jacksonville has eight starters returning on offense, including nearly the entire receiving corps from an attack that ended 2013 ranked third in the nation with 41.8 points per game. The Dolphins were also top 10 nationally in total offense (5th; 522.7 ypg), passing offense (6th; 331.5 ypg) and red zone offense (7th; .886).
  • On defense, five starters return, but, more importantly, the Dolphins welcome back four 2014 starters who missed last season to injury.
  • Three players were named to the Preseason All-PFL squad: WR Andrew Robustelli (51 receptions, 1,063 yards, 11 TDs) also named to The Sports Network's Preseason All-America squad. Lineman Maroa White (55 tackles, 9 sacks) and linebacker Mike Klein (76 tackles).
  • The Dolphins enter this week's game on a four-game home opener win streak dating back to 2010 when they beat Webber, 41- 0. The last home opener JU lost was 2009 to Old Dominion, 28-27.
  • Andrew Robustelli (Sarasota, Fla.) rewrote a number of Jacksonville University records a year ago. Now, the rest of the nation is starting to take notice. Robustelli was named a preseason All-American by The Sports Network and the Beyond Sports Network as well as a preseason third team pick for The Sports Network.
  • Redshirt sophomore Brandon Behr (Fleming Island, Fla.) and sophomore Ryan Giaratano (Coral Springs, Fla.) have taken over kicking duties in 2014. Behr is the team's placekicker handling both all non-punting duties while Giaratano is the team's punter.