JU travels to Western Illinois looking for first win
Running back J.J. Laster had a atouchdown against The Citadel.
Running back J.J. Laster had a atouchdown against The Citadel.
This hasn’t been the most pleasant week for Jacksonville University football coach Kerwin Bell.

Bell, who also is the team’s offensive coordinator, was very disappointed in the unit’s play during last week’s 31-9 loss at The Citadel to the point that he spent two nights sleeping in his office – despite an air mattress he uses springing a leak. Bell and the Dolphins (0-1) are looking to regain their air when they travel to Macomb, Ill. Saturday to take on 2010 NCAA FCS playoff participant Western Illinois at 4 p.m.

The game will be broadcast live on 1010XL radio and with Terry Norvelle doing play-by-play and Joel Lamp providing color analysis. The Bono’s Barbeque Pregame Show begins at 3:30. Bell’s disappointment was in that after the Dolphins took a 9-0 first-quarter lead against The Citadel then sputtered and never regained traction.

“In the life of football you paint a picture every week and whether you like it or don’t like it the picture’s on the wall and there’s nothing you can do about it except try to learn from it,’’ Bell said. “From that point on the picture’s there, there’s nothing else we can do and we go on to the next picture and paint another picture and turn the page.’’

The next picture comes against the Leathernecks (0-1) on a new turf field being used for the first time. Western Illinois, which picked up a first-round win in last year’s playoffs, lost its opener to Sam Houston State, 20-6 despite a 92-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Hudson to Terriun Crump. Crump wound up with five catches for 127 yards.

“I think our kids are going to be a little surprised by their strength and how big they are,’’ Bell said. “I don’t think they are as athletic – hopefully -- as The Citadel in their skill position areas but they are very good. We’ve got to stop the run and if we can slow down their run and get them in passing situations, I really like our chances of having a good game.’’ Bell is hoping the offense found itself during the week.

“We just need to execute,’’ he said. “We need to worry about ourselves and need to put up back to back plays and drives to help our defense and that’s been our response all week.’’

The trip to Western Illinois is one of JU’s “Air Raid’’ adventures where the team flies up, plays and flies back in the same day. The team is 4-0 in such games.

“The kids have responded well to the Air Raids,’’ Bell said. “They get excited because it’s something different for them and we have been successful at it.’’

The Dolphins open their home season next Saturday against Charleston Southern.

- Jim Nasella