Aug. 20, 2004
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
The Jacksonville Dolphins football team held its first scrimmage on Friday afternoon at the Ashley Sports Complex on the JU campus. The Dolphins had a 90-play scripted scrimmage with referees in front of about 100 fans.
The Dolphin offense showed more speed than it has in the seven-year history of the program, especially at the skill positions. Offensive coordinator Andy McLeod was pleased with the improvement of the offensive line, which has really jelled after playing together last season. This is the second season JU will employ the no-huddle approach, which helped yield a school-record 4,463 yards of total offense in 2003. Center Pat Monteau (Tampa, Fla.), guards Barry Johnson (Casselberry, Fla.) and Josue Sanchez (Middleburg, Fla.) and tackles Ed Templeton (Orlando, Fla.) and Pat Rich (Sarasota, Fla.) played well as a unit.
Starting quarterback Mike Sturgill (Vero Beach, Fla.) was not particularly sharp, but was working with a whole new set of wide receivers. Freshmen wideouts Michael Jenner (Miami, Fla.) and Dan Petillo (Oldsmar, Fla.) saw significant action with the first team, while fellow freshman Nathan Conner (Middleburg, Fla.) also played well in his debut. Senior Cliff Collins (Jacksonville/Bishop Kenny) had a few nice grabs, but dropped a wide open touchdown pass toward the end. Freshman quarterback Christopher Horton (Boca Raton, Fla.) worked with the second-team offense, while fellow freshman Anthony Salgado (Sarasota, Fla.) worked with the third group.
With the graduation of running back Emmett Hunter, the school's all-time leading rusher, redshirt sophomore Jerry Brant (Jacksonville/Raines) and redshirt junior Chad Davis (Tallahassee, Fla.) showed great improvement. Brant stood out the most with several long runs, including a 30-yard touchdown scamper when he cut back up the middle and ran away from the defense. Davis, who has had a great camp, was held back for the most part, but showed his effectiveness as a receiver out of the backfield. Freshman Phillip Fields (Orlando, Fla.) stood out with the second team, including a 50-yards touchdown run.
Junior fullback Steven Battle (Jacksonville/Raines) came back to camp in the best shape of his career and was effective both as a blocker and carrying the ball. Battle broke several tackles on an 11-yard run up the middle. Freshman fullback Corey Saunders (Bradenton, Fla.) has solidified his spot has Battle's backup and will see plenty of playing time this season.
Overall, first-year defensive coordinator Craig Hauser was pleased with the Dolphin defense, especially the tempo and conditioning of the first team. The defensive line was as fast and athletic as it's ever been at JU and made more plays in than years past. Hauser's only concern was the tackling, which he said must improve in the next 10 days.
As expected, senior defensive end Jason Bense (Tallahassee, Fla.) stood out and has become the defensive's most dominant player. Bense had a pair of sacks and was disruptive in the backfield all day. Freshman defensive end Sean Heaverin (Newark, Del.) was also disruptive and made several plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Returning linebackers Tim Hasse (Bradenton, Fla.) and Brandon Torre (Tallahassee, Fla.) were solid as expected, but the improved play of junior middle linebacker Zell Robinson (Pancea, Fla.) has Hauser excited. Robinson added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason and has improved greatly from a year ago. Freshman linebacker Joey Rumph (Boca Raton, Fla.) solidified his spot as Hasse's backup at the strongside position.
Sophomore cornerback Bryan Flowers (Delray Beach, Fla.) and junior cornerback Leighton Henderson (Miami, Fla.) both played well with the first team defense, while sophomore strong safety Sean Casey (Ft. Myers, Fla.) had two interceptions working with the second team. Senior free safety Omar Platt (Tallahassee, Fla.), who played linebacker last season, proved that he will be a contributor in the defensive backfield this season.
The JU kicking game has a long way to go, according to Gilbert. The Dolphins missed three consecutive field goals during kicking drills, but junior transfer Ryan Feely (Odessa, Fla.) did nail a 38-yard field goal to cap the first drive of the scrimmage. Bense, who was the Dolphins' primary kicker last season, also nailed a 39-yarder during breakdown work. Feely, Bense and freshman Matthew Beaton (Jacksonville/First Coast) all worked on point-after attempts. Feely and Beaton worked as the Dolphins' punters, as well.
Junior free safety Drew Stafford (Rockville, Md.) appears to be 100 percent after missing all of last season with a knee injury, which was suffered in the first scrimmage...senior linebacker Adam Griffin (Jacksonville/Ed White) sat out the scrimmage with a strained hamstring, but is expected back on Monday...junior wide receiver Julio Santiago (Jacksonville/Bolles), the Dolphins top returning wideout, has missed all but three days of training camp with a sprained thumb. Santiago is expected to start working back into drills next week.