JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's one of the games each year that keeps coaching staffs on high alert.
Homecoming. And it's this week on the Jacksonville University campus as the Drake Bulldogs come calling to D. B. Milne Field Saturday at 1 p.m.
"It's a big week for the players and you are always aware of the potential distractions,'' JU coach Kerwin Bell said Monday. "You hope that with a team like Drake coming in the players will stay focused. It's another big league game for us.''
As was the case with last week's game at Butler (a 35-7 win for the Dolphins) JU has plenty to work for besides trying to garner a win on Homecoming day.
First place in the Pioneer Football League is at stake and Drake (2-2, 1-0) has gotten the best of the Dolphins three years running. It's also the fifth game in a brutal opening stretch for the Dolphins.
"This is a tough a schedule we've had,'' Bell said. "The first four games have been unbelievable. It's a credit to our coaches and our players getting up every week and playing good ball – winning ball – now we've got Homecoming.''
It isn't lost on Bell that like Butler last week, Drake has had his team's number of late. JU has lost three in a row to the Bulldogs with the last JU win in the series coming Oct. 9, 2010.
"We've got another team that we haven't had a lot of luck with lately,'' he said. "They've handled us pretty good. I hope we have a big crowd and big support.''
Our guys are going to work and execute a little bit better and make sure they don't turn the ball over as much. We've been good in that area, there's been a lot of improvement and we're going to continue to work at that and we've got a chance to be a pretty good team I think.''
The JU offense has gotten untracked and amassed 601 total yards against Butler with quarterback Kade Bell (Fleming Island, Fla.), this week's PFL Offensive Player of the Week, throwing for a career-high five touchdowns, two to senior wide receiver Andrew Robustelli (Sarasota, Fla). Bell has nine touchdown tosses in the last two games and the Dolphins are atop the PFL in total offense with 418 yards per game.
The team's defense has been called upon, and responded, for some key stops the past two games including a couple of big series after JU turnovers at Butler.
- Last week's 35-7 win over Butler broke a two-game losing streak to the Bulldogs and snapped a nine-game home win streak for Butler.
- Bryant had his third consecutive 100-yard plus rushing game, the first time any Dolphin has accomplished that since Rudell Small in 2010.
- The JU defense had another pick and now has eight interceptions which equals last year's season total.