Last two-a-day practice in the books

The JU football team can sleep easy tonight knowing that it has gone through its last two-a-day practice on Friday.

The Dolphins worked for two hours in the morning and practice cut short due to storms in the afternoon, finishing preparations for the second scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday at Fletcher High School.

”I’m pleased with our progress, but I also know we have to keep working in the next two weeks to be ready for our first game,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “This Saturday’s scrimmage is really important to get some of these young guys some more live action to see who can contribute right away this fall.”

FINKLEY EARNS SPECIAL TEAM HONOR:Junior punt returner Elliot Finkley was named to College Sporting News preseason honorable mention All-America team as a return specialist. Last season, Finkley set the school record with three punt returns for touchdowns while finishing ranked in the top 10 nationally in punt return average.

POSITION PREVIEW SPOTLIGHT – SEPCIAL TEAMS: It sounds cliché, but there is a reason why they are called “special teams” and there is a reason why squads that have good special teams are usually successful.

After struggling with their special teams a year ago, the Dolphins were committed to creating a strong special teams unit. In turn, it led to a PFL championship.

The Dolphins had one of the top punt returners in the country in Elliott Finkley, who earned honorable mention All-America honors as a return specialist. On kickoff returns, Tommie Rogers’ game-breaking ability wreaked havoc as the averaged more than 20 yards per return.

“With the number of athletes we have in the program, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top three in all four return categories,” Bell said. “Coach Webb on our coverages and Coach Mills on our returns have done a great job of making our special teams special.”

With both return games in solid shape, the Dolphins bring back their starting kicker and punter from the final five games of the season.

Senior Donovan Curry, who was the placekicker and punter his first two seasons, moved from punter to kicker midway through the 2008 season and became a legend with his 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that beat San Diego. On the season, Curry was perfect on his four field goal attempts.

Allowing Curry to move back into the kicker role was the emergence of freshman Logan Chipperfield. The Jacksonville-native came on strong at the end of the season to average 36.7 yards per punt, with eight of his 25 attempts finishing inside the 20.

The question mark on special teams is the long snapper and the holder – both of which will be decided during fall camp.

“We’re still a little iffy on the kicks because it is all a process – from the snap, to the hold, to the kick,” Bell said. “We’ve got to find some people who can do this and do it consistently.

“Donovan did a great job when we moved him over last season and he has worked hard to get ready for this season. Logan is very consistent; he just needs to get his kicks off a little bit quicker.”