JU hits the road (again) to start football season
J.J. Laster (8) ran for 810 yards last season.
J.J. Laster (8) ran for 810 yards last season.
This really doesn’t happen on purpose, but it’s part of trying to build a program.

For the fifth straight year, the Jacksonville University football team will hit the road to begin the season as the Dolphins travel up I-95 to Charleston, S.C., and a date Saturday with The Citadel.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on 1010XL with the Bono’s Barbeque Pregame Show at 5:30. Terry Norvelle and Joel Lamp will be doing the play by play.

The Dolphins have won three consecutive road openers with last year being a 35-25 victory over Old Dominion.

Head coach Kerwin Bell says the openers are part of the cost of upgrading.

“What we’ve done is try to play up our competition and usually when you do that you’re money games, playing on the road and you’re playing teams that are bringing you in,’’ Bell said. “Therefore it’s not a home and home really. You go in there one time.’’

Bell, who is always up for a challenge, takes the road trips in stride.

“We wanted to do that. We wanted to challenge ourselves, challenge the program and play at a higher level and because of that we’ve been able to play some really big games on the road and I think it’s helped build this program,’’ he said.

Beyond that, Bell said it’s time for his team to see somebody else.

“We’re excited and ready to get things going,’’ defensive lineman Chance Smith said. “We have three big non-conference games in a row that will help determine our playoff future; they are really big games. And, we’re sick of beating up on each other.’’

“You get to the point in preseason where it’s the same thing over and over and you’re competing against each other and we’ve done that very well this camp,’’ he said. “Our kids are ready. They understand what we’ve got to do and the game plan they know like the back of their hand. Now we need to go out there play, have some fun and put in on the line.’’

Knowing the game plan will be critical because it is the only time this season the Dolphins will see the triple option.

JU finished 10-1 last season and was co-champion of the Pioneer Football League with Dayton as each had 8-0 conference record.

The offense, which averaged more than 42 points a game, is once again led by senior quarterback Josh McGregor who threw for 3,049 yards last year, 32 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his last 20 games dating back to the second week of the 2009 season.

The Dolphins also will be relying on running back J.J. Laster, who last year rushed for 810 yards and an 8.5 average per carry, tops in the nation.