Quarterback Kade not harping on latest milestones

Kade Bell (1) had a career day against Morehead State
Kade Bell (1) had a career day against Morehead State

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Another stifling day of practice at D.B. Milne Field and an irritated coach barks instructions.

"RUN IT AGAIN,'' Jacksonville head coach Kerwin Bell bellows in a not-too-happy-voice after what he sees as a botched play.

The object of his ire usually is the quarterback, and his son, Kade Bell, a redshirt junior who takes his fair share of yelling from coach/dad who works to not be harder on his quarterback/son than on others.

"You know, you try not to but you do,'' Kerwin Bell said. "My expectations for him probably are higher so if another kid made the same mistake he probably wouldn't hear it as much.''

Coach/dad Bell acknowledges that his playing quarterback and the nature of the team's offense both play into how much Kade hears. But Kade's not alone.

"I've always been hard on my quarterbacks,'' Kerwin Bell said. "I was hard on (former quarterback) Josh (McGregor). I remember when he was a sophomore I was getting on him and he asked Kade: "How do you live with that man?'' But with our offense, it starts with the quarterback, if he doesn't know what's going on we're not going to be very successful.''

The harping apparently is working as Kade, who played at Fleming Island High School, in the last two weeks has passed milestones and last Saturday against Morehead State had a career day with 441 yards passing and six touchdown tosses, just one off McGregor's school record seven set against Morehead in 2010.

Kade takes the verbal barrages in stride.

"It's hard playing for him, but I knew that when I came here,'' quarterback/son said of coach/dad. "He's always going to hold you to a high standard no matter what. He wants me to be great so sometimes you just have to take it and know that he's just trying to make you a better player.''

The chip off the old block passed the 5,000-yard passing mark two weeks ago against Drake (he now sits at 5,453 yards) and in addition to all the other fun stats already mentioned, threw the 50th touchdown pass of his career against Morehead State (he now has 55). For the season, he has 1,655 passing yards and 18 TDs, sixth in the country. Seven different receivers have shared in those 18.

He doesn't really seem to care much about the numbers.

"I just care about winning,'' Kade said. "That's all that matters. I feel if I play well we have a good chance of winning. We have a great offensive line that gives me a lot of time and receivers who are very good at getting open and that leads to a lot of success.''

That last statement says much about how far he has come since becoming a Dolphin.

"He has matured so much as a quarterback and he has built up a lot of trust with me,'' Kerwin Bell said. "He has matured out of doing that crazy stuff getting us in trouble and has become patient. He's probably thrown away 20 balls this year and has learned that sometimes the play just isn't there.''

That maturity isn't lost on the Jacksonville receivers who are having quite a time this year.

Among those believers is senior wide receiver Andrew Robustelli, who has 1,732 career receiving yards and 22 touchdowns through the air. He should know as he and Kade have spent plenty of time together working on routes.

"He definitely has calmed down,'' Robustelli, who this season has 21 catches for 375 yards, five touchdowns and has caught the eye of some pro scouts, said. "He was a little more frantic in the pocket as a freshman but has definitely settled down. He's throwing the ball really well this year. The offensive line is giving him a lot of time and he's confident in himself. When he's throwing it like he is, I think the offense is unstoppable.''

Junior Andy Jones (26 catches, 357 yards, four touchdowns), who had himself a career day with 134 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown receptions against Morehead, also has seen quarterback/son grow.

"He's matured a lot, but we all have,'' Jones said. "We've been here for the three years and we've all grown together and are starting to gel. He brings aggressiveness and I like that. He's not afraid to throw the deep ball and when he steps into it, it's a pretty accurate ball.''

Kade also thinks Kade has matured.

"I think I have a lot,'' he said. "I'm trying to be more of a leader and I think they are responding to me as a leader and following me as a leader. I'm just trying to get better every day.''

Coach/dad sees that light.

"It's funny because sometimes I'll yell at him in practice then go look at the practice film and see he has made the right decision I was yelling at him about,'' Kerwin Bell said. "I'll look at it and say 'dang, he got it right' and that happens quite a lot.''

Jim Nasella