MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Welcome Back Football Season

by Joel Lamp

Football season – it is so nice to see you once again.

You left us here in Jacksonville with a yearning in our heart after watching the Dolphins win their final three games of the season, including a dominating win over eventual Pioneer Football League champion Butler, showing us just how special last season could have been.

Then you went into seclusion. Yes, you peaked out for the month of February for spring ball, but you quickly ducked back into hibernation.

Until now.

Now, you’re ready to go. You’ve been bouncing around campus for three weeks getting ready and now it’s your time to shine.

Yes, football season, it is good to see you once again.

WINNING STREAK?

Most of the time when a team wins its last game of the season, it’s pulled off a major upset or won a postseason game. For the JU football team – it’s none of the above. The Dolphins won their final three games of last season, but had nowhere to go after a 7-4 season.

Jacksonville will start its 2010 campaign as one of 10 teams in the country that have a winning streak of three games or more. Topping it off, the Dolphins will face one of the other teams with a winning streak in the opener – Old Dominion, who won its final six games.

Defending national champion Villanova comes into the season with the nation’s longest winning streak at nine.

WOMEN’S SOCCER LOVES OVERTIME

Being a native of Birmingham, Ala., one would look at head coach Brian Copham’s career record at JU and wonder if he grew up an Auburn fan and wanted to follow in the footsteps of Pat Tie…excuse me, Pat Dye (for those of you not from Alabama, Dye had a penchant for going for the tie instead of the win, driving legions of Auburn fans insane).

Last season, Copham’s team racked up five ties, including four in Atlantic Sun Conference play as the Dolphins racked up a 5-1-4 record to finish fourth in the league. He enters his third season in charge of the program with seven career ties.

Copham’s squad is at it again in 2010 – but this time they are not just kissing their sister, they are getting results. Of the Dolphins first four games, JU has played two overtime games, winning at Furman and falling at Charleston Southern this weekend.

The one thing that has been proven thus far is that this young squad can play for more than 90 minutes and can put up some goals. In four games, JU has scored nine goals. It took seven games last season to reach that mark.

With a solid start to the season, the Dolphins are poised to make a big splash in conference play this season.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES

When opportunity knocks, you know you have to answer.

For former Dolphin Russell Knox, opportunity came knocking in the form of a spot in the Nationwide Tour’s Knoxville Sentinel Open.

Since graduation from JU, Knox has been a dominant force on the NGA Hooters Tour – having finished in the top five on the money list in each of the last three seasons. Unfortunately for Knox, he hasn’t been able to break through during the grueling PGA Tour Qualifying School, missing a spot in the finals by just a shot last season.

After another dominant season on the Hooters Tour, Knox’s play earned him a spot in the Nationwide Tour event – which is just one step from the PGA Tour. A year ago, Knox made the field in a Nationwide event through a Monday qualifier.

Ever since his playing days at JU, I felt that all he needed was a chance and that once he got it, he would be able to take advantage of it. He has all the tools to be able to play in the big leagues – he’s long off the tee, straight as an arrow and deadly accurate with his irons. Throw in a solid putter and he’s got all the skills you need to succeed professionally.

So what does he do with in his second Nationwide Tour start – an event that featured two-time major champion John Daly and former PGA Tour champion Kirk Triplett?

He cards a six-under par 66 in the final round to tie for seventh, earns a spot in this week’s Nationwide event in Pennsylvania and beats Daly by six shots

In talking with Knox last night, his confidence is at an all-time high and he knows that if he keeps playing well, he’ll keep getting the opportunity to play. All he needed was a chance and now he knows that he belongs at that level – which completely changes the game.

BIG WEEK COMING UP As football season kicks off this week, it’s a big week ahead in the athletic department. The installation of the AstroTurf field is expected to be completed, provided the daily monsoons stop, this week. Once it’s completed, construction of the Ron Autrey Family Track will begin.

On top of that, the JU cross country teams open their 2010 season with the JU Short Course duals on campus Friday afternoon. The women’s team will begin their A-Sun title defense at home. Not to forget that the men’s soccer team will open its home schedule on Friday night as well, facing Florida Atlantic at 7 p.m.

OUR TWEET OF THE WEEK

As many of you have noticed from our new website, we have increased our Twitter coverage. This week’s “Tweet of the Week” has to go to AD Alan Verlander:

“Thank you to SunTrust Bank for renewing their sponsorship and now title sponsoring our golf tourney in November. Awesome.”

THANK YOU TO THE MEDIA

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank all of our friends in the media for their coverage the last few weeks as we get started with football season. A big thanks to Jeff Elliott and Gene Frenette for their great stories in the Florida-Times Union, as well as to our all of our television friends for coming out to Media Day and meeting the Dolphins.