Football opens 2011 season Saturday at The Citadel
The Jacksonville University football barely missed the FCS playoffs last season and in an effort to enhance its chances at post season play, upgraded the 2011 schedule. The first test comes in the opener on Saturday.

The Dolphins, defending Pioneer Football League co-champions, travel to Charleston, S.C., to take on The Citadel Bulldogs of the Southern Conference. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on 1010XL and with Terry Norvelle and Joel Lamp calling the action live from Johnson Hagood Stadium. The Bono’s Barbeque Pregame Show will kickoff game coverage at 5:30 p.m.

“We’re ready to get on the field and play,’’ JU head coach Kerwin Bell said. “We’ve had a very good camp and from top to bottom this is the best roster we’ve started with in the five years we’ve been here.’’

JU, 10-1 last season and 8-0 in the PFL, will be playing its fifth consecutive season opener on the road and have won the last three debuts. For the first time, the Dolphins have recorded three consecutive winning seasons and are 26-9 in that span.

Senior quarterback Josh McGregor, a Walter Payton Award candidate, is expected to lead the offense. He holds all school passing records and threw for 3,049 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Dolphins will play four of their first five games on the road and will travel more than 2,000 miles to do it. The trip to Charleston is about 238 miles and is followed next week by a trip to Macomb, Ill., to play Western Illinois. That trip is 1,049 miles. After the home opener against Charleston Southern on Sept. 17, JU goes to Buies Creek, N.C., to play Campbell (426 miles) and then to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to face Marist (1,004 miles) for a total 2,717 miles. Two later trips, to Des Moines and San Diego round out the travel.

GOOD HANDS: McGregor’s favorite target has been senior wide receiver Josh Philpart for good reasons. Philpart holds five school records and is the active leader nationally in two more (receiving touchdowns for a career with 29 and yards per catch 15.6). Philpart trails only Brian Quick of Appalachian State in the active national ranking for receiving yards in a career.

A BACKUP?: Running back J.J. Laster was a backup to Rudell Small last season but you’d never know it. Laster, from Graceville, Fla., had 810 yards rushing last season and a nation’s-best 8.5 yards per carry.

-- Jim Nasella