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Patchwork in Past for Jacksonville Football Team
The Dolphins are bigger, better and deeper, says their second-year coach.
They’re ready to throw away the Band-Aids at Jacksonville University.
A year ago, in his first season as the Dolphins’ head football coach, Kerwin Bell moved players from one position to another every week as he searched for the right combination. According to Bell, JU won’t have that problem this season.
“Last year, we just didn’t have enough good players and enough depth on defense that we had to find our best guys and just try to Band-Aid our secondary all last year,” Bell said Thursday at the Dolphins’ media day. “We were moving people around trying to search for players that would give us the best chance to win.”
It wasn’t much better on offense, where JU lost its top two left tackles for the season because of injuries during training camp. Plus, there wasn’t much size among the linemen on either side, and the Dolphins often were dominated, as evidenced by their last-place Pioneer Football League ranking in both rushing yards and run defense.
Bell took that into consideration when he and the staff recruited eight defensive linemen who top the scales at 260 pounds or more (compared to one such player on last year’s defense) and added six offensive linemen at 275 or higher.
“We’re a much bigger football team and have the type of players where we can now control the line of scrimmage and be able to perform at a higher level,” said Bell, a former quarterback at Florida.
“… This year, we’re so much more comfortable. On defense, we have guys two deep that we don’t have to move guys around. We have two guys at every position fighting it out, and that’s all up and down the defense. We’re not throwing guys here and there, seeing if they work out. They’re getting to one spot and learning their position, and that’s how you become a good football team.”
Bell said some of his hefty freshmen linemen can make an immediate impact.
“Offensively, we’ve got five freshmen coming in - that’s giving us great competition on the line,” he said. “Ian Osking is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound freshman center who’s starting right now. We haven’t had that kind of center around here in a long time. Our returning veterans on the line know the system and are doing a good job, but they’re all getting a push from freshmen.”
Whether veterans or freshmen are in JU’s starting lineup, they must be prepared early. After opening the season at Savannah State on Aug. 30, the Dolphins travel to Appalachian State the following Saturday to meet the three-time defending Football Championship Subdivision winners. The Mountaineers shocked the college football world last season with a 34-32 victory at Michigan.
Patchwork in past for JU football team
By Jeff Elliott, The Florida Times-Union