With Penn on tap, things aren’t any easier for Dolphins

The Dolphins run in to Penn this week at home. (Photo by Skip Tapp - Widespread Photography)
The Dolphins run in to Penn this week at home. (Photo by Skip Tapp - Widespread Photography)

After beginning the season with a pair of dastardly games, one on the road at the third-ranked team in the country and one at home against preseason Pioneer Football League favorites, the buzz-saw isn't stopping for the JU football team.

That's because another powerhouse, perennial Ivy League giant Penn, is heading south for a 1 p.m. matchup Saturday at D. B. Milne Field.

The Quakers, coming off a 4-6 record, won the Ivy League the previous year and in 2010, two of their Ivy League best 16 titles. The school has played an NCAA record 1,343 games.

"The last  three or four years they have been in contention for the Ivy League championship with Harvard, Princeton, they've been right there at the top of the standings,'' JU head coach Kerwin Bell said Monday. "We've watched some film of them last year, they had sort of like we did, a little down year, but their coach has been around a long time. They're an established program and we know they're going to bounce back this year.''

One of the things hindering the Dolphins (1-1, 1-0 in the PFL) this week is Penn has yet to play a game this season. Quakers' coach Al Bagnoli is entering his 23rd leaving Bell to wonder what wrinkles Penn might bring.

"The toughest thing for us going into this thing is we're going in a little blindfolded as this is their first game,'' Bell said. "We're going to have to make adjustments off last year's film and go in and then make adjustments if they come out with new stuff this year and it's going to be a tough game.''

This week's game is the middle of a tough opening stretch for JU.

After visiting No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana in the opening week, the Dolphins played host to rival San Diego last week. Following Penn, JU meets a pair of tough PFL teams at Butler and at home against Drake.

"We told our team these first five games are going to be monsters,'' Bell said. "These first three games and then we've got Butler which has been a really good team in our league the last three or four years and then Homecoming for Drake which also has been a great team in our conference.''

Bell knows it sounds cliché, but he's insisting his team not look ahead.

"We've got to take it one week at a time,'' Bell said. "Like I told the team yesterday, let's understand how we got here from this past game because we understood the process of preparing and being well prepared and let's see if we can do a little better each week preparing just a little more. If we do that we'll be an improved every week and we'll have a chance to win these games.''