JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With myriad story lines churning around JU's game at Butler this week, one thing Dolphin Coach Kerwin Bell isn't concerning himself with is his team's approach to the Pioneer Football League game.
"I'm not worried about this team being ready, that's for sure,'' Bell said this week. "We have a 24 hour rule after a game and you enjoy it if you win and think about it for a while if you lose. After the 24 hour rule we get back to work. We did our preparation and it hasn't been anything but our guys concentrating at a high level.''
There are plenty of reasons to be ready for the noon kickoff at the Butler Bowl.
- The Dolphins (2-1, 1-0) are over .500 since the end of the 2012 season and want to continue atop the PFL standings.
- After winning the first seven games in the series, JU has lost the last two to the Bulldogs (2-1, 0-0).
- The first loss came on a 14-play, 95-yard drive that ended in a Butler touchdown with two seconds to play and cost JU a shot at that year's title. Butler wound up co-champs and repeated last year.
- Butler has won nine consecutive PFL games at home.
- It's Butler's Homecoming.
"We were 7-0 against this team and in the last two years we're 0-2 and we've had some tough losses,'' Bell said. "Two years ago we lost in the last second which ruined a chance to win another PFL championship. A lot of kids were there and went through that and this game and Drake (next week) are two games we don't have to worry about getting up for. These two opponents have given us a lot of trouble and they have played very well.''
Bell said he's "comfortable'' heading north this year.
"I feel comfortable going up there because we've got a team. Not a bunch of individuals but a team that's willing to fight for each other. You've got to have that on the road. There's going to be some down moments, there will be some tough moments, but we'll hang in there and find a way to win the game. But, if you don't play at a high level, they will take advantage because they are smart and their coaches are smart.''
JU is coming off last week's 34-31 win over Penn of the Ivy League and Butler cruised past Taylor 38-3 in a game shortened to three quarters because of bad weather.
In that game, Bulldog quarterback Matt Shiltz, making just his third collegiate start, had a hand in all five Butler touchdowns and rolled up 433 yards in total offense. He was named PFL Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
Meanwhile, JU quarterback Kade Bell had the sixth four-touchdown pass game of his career in the JU win over Penn. He threw for a season-high 239 yards and has 538 for the season. Running back Ulysses Bryant had his second consecutive 100-yard plus rushing game with 127.
Of everything to play for, a chance at another PFL title is of most concern to Bell.
"If you look at the history of the PFL, since I've been here, you better not lose many,'' he said. "And, for the most part, if you want to win outright or at least have a chance to compete for the championship, you better take it game by game as a playoff situation. We tell our team if you lose one you may be out of it. It's a situation where we can't lose a game.''
The game can be heard on 92.5 FM with Scott Manze on the call and there will be a live stream at http://www.butlersports.com/landing/Live_Video.
- In three games, Butler has yet to give up a touchdown in the first quarter and leads the PFL in rushing defense having given up only 200 yards on the ground.
- JU and Marist are tied atop the PFL interceptions category with seven.
- The Butler offensive line has yet to give up a sack this season and its defense has recorded a league-high 13.
- JU's Ulysses Bryant (Jacksonville, Fla.) is second in the PFL with 321 yards rushing and punter Ryan Giaratano (Coral Springs, Fla.) leads all punters with a 42.6 per kick average.