DES MOINES, Iowa. – The goal of the Jacksonville football team is to "be legendary" and do what no other team has done in the program's history-finish undefeated. The season has already included feats no other squad has accomplished, including beating a Colonial Athletic Association opponent in Delaware, starting 5-0, and winning at Marist for the first time in the last three tries.
The Dolphins (6-0, 3-0) will have to again hurdle an obstacle for the first time this weekend to keep the undefeated season intact. A Jacksonville football team has never left Drake Stadium with a victory, 0-6 all-time, but won 29-15 at home last season.
"I think this is just as big of a challenge as the Delaware week. We never have won at Drake in the history of our program," said Head Coach Kerwin Bell. "Our group is all about being legendary for the season and this week is a great week to be legendary against a great football team at their place."
A key to success, according to Bell, is to win the turnover battle. The Dolphin defense will look to continue its ball-hawking style, which leads the nation with 21 forced turnovers, and the offense aims to eliminate its turnover mistakes, especially in the red zone.
"They execute on offense and don't mess up very often," said linebacker D.J. Howard. "Creating turnovers would be a big advantage. One of our goals this season was to lead the nation in turnovers and we've been working on it in practice a lot."
Howard and company will look to harass the Drake offensive line (3-4, 2-2), which with 26 sacks has given up the most in the PFL. On the flip side, Drake is second in the league with 21 sacks of its own, led by Marrin Mack's five.
Offensively, the Bulldogs feature the second-leading rusher in the PFL, Conley Wilkins, who is averaging 77.7 yards per game. Wilkins has been the biggest Bulldog threat this season with six rushing touchdowns, and one receiving and return score.
"Drake is a team that's going to be physical. They're going to rely on their size and physicality to be competitive. We've got to make sure that our guys on the line of scrimmage are up to that task," said Bell.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m. and can be heard on http://mixlr.com/judolphins/ and on 92.5 FM with Scott Manze and Nolan Alexander. The pregame show will be online-only on the mixlr.com link. Live stats for the game are available at: www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com.