A new school year means many things but most importantly it means that college football is back. That same notion rings true for your Jacksonville Dolphins.
JU returns to action after a 7-4 2012 campaign in which the Dolphins went 5-3 in Pioneer League play finishing tied for fourth place, a sub-par finish as for the standard Dolphins fans have come to know in the Kerwin Bell era.
The way I see it, this is an entirely new slate for the Dolphins and Coach Bell will have the team ready to go out and win week after week and eager to prove that they are a formidable opponent on the PFL schedule.
First up for JU on the 2013 schedule was perennial contender Delaware. The Dolphins took the trip up the east coast to Newark to take on the Blue Hens last Thursday, helping to open up the college football season.
JU seemingly had their way with Delaware in the first quarter, putting up a 14-0 lead thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Kade Bell. However, the Dolphins could not sustain the relentless offensive attack and a defense that flustered opponents last season was taken advantage of on the ground by the Blue Hens running attack.
Considering the task at hand was a difficult one for JU, they put up a fight throughout the game but Delaware came out stronger in the second half and outlasted the Dolphins for a 51-35 victory.
The JU passing game, led by Bell and former tight end turned receiver Andy Robustelli, kept the Dolphins in the game all night long but wasn’t enough to keep it any closer without the presence of a running game.
Next up for the Dolphins, they will head west to Alabama to take on Jacksonville State. JSU proposes another tough challenge for the Dolphins as their opening non-conference games usually do, but look for JU to learn from their mistakes from the Delaware game and apply them to this match up.
At the end of the day, I think JSU will have too much fire power for the Dolphins, especially if the JU defense plays how it did against the Blue Hens. If the running game doesn’t factor into the game at all, the score might get a little lopsided in Jacksonville State’s favor.
Following the opening two game road stint, the Dolphins return home for three games, two of which are PFL match ups. First up, JU opens up its home stand with Morehead State. JU handled Morehead rather easily last year defeating them 38-16. I like the Dolphins to again defeat Morehead St. and get off the losing streak behind their home crowd.
Next up, JU hosts Warner University in a non-conference match up. Not much to go off of on this one but if Kade Bell and the offense can put up points as they did against Delaware then they should have no problem with Warner thus getting back to .500 at 2-2.
The final game of the three-game home stand brings Butler to town. Last year, Butler scored late to beat JU 19-16 ultimately ending the Dolphins hope at a PFL title. JU hurt itself down the stretch with sloppy play and penalties and I look for JU to give Butler a little payback.
Following the home stand JU gets back on the road to take on Drake and Campbell. Both games set up for a possible Dolphins victory. Last year JU lost by a field goal to Drake at home in the finale, leaving a bitter taste in their mouth for the off season. The week prior JU was able to defeat Campbell with ease by a score of 40-14. I like the Dolphins to take both contests as long as the defense can hold up.
JU then returns home for their Homecoming game against Davidson, a team they defeated last year by a score of 34-24 in a back and forth match up. The Dolphins should have defeated Davidson by a wider margin and with the development of their offense from a season ago I think they will do just that.
Next up the Dolphins hit the road to face Marist, and as they did a year ago, I believe JU will put away the Red Foxes and continue their winning ways.
JU closes out the season against two first-year programs, on the road at Mercer and finally at home against Stetson. With the amount of success the Dolphins have had over the years and if everything goes well, I don’t see anyway either of those teams could pull off the huge upset. I like JU in both of those, thus ending their regular season 9-0 and 8-0 in PFL play putting them in the driver seat for the PFL FCS playoff bid. This marks the first season in which the PFL receives an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
So baring any injuries and if everything theoretically goes well, I think the JU defense will have just enough to help thrust the offense over its opponents, giving the Dolphins one of its best seasons in program history and the PFL’s first ever automatic playoff appearance.