Any potential solution this week rides on JU’s shoulders as the Dolphins head to Ohio to meet Dayton in the Pioneer Football League opener for both teams and all signs point to an uphill battle for JU.
JU has won five of its last six PFL openers and Dayton four of six. Both teams are on respectable opener win streaks. JU, however, is 0-3 in Dayton and coach Kerwin Bell is still searching for the key to that road win.
“I’m not sure we know what that key is,’’ coach Kerwin Bell said. “We haven’t beaten them there.’’
Continuity, Bell said, is one thing leading Dayton to win 194 games at Welcome Stadium.
“They’re a team that understands how to win football games; they’ve done it for years the same way,’’ Bell said. “They’ve only two coaches in the last 31 years (Mike Kelly 27 years and current coach Rick Chamberlin four years) and coach Chamberlin has been there as defensive coordinator all that time.’’
Most can only wish for that kind of stability.
“Any time you have that continuity, it’s very impressive,’’ Bell said. “They’ve won or shared 10 of the championships in the 20 years of the league and they’ve done it the same way. Every year it’s the same team. They play a lot of seniors and a lot of them are one-year starters.’’
While the Flyers are built on defense, scoring hasn’t been a problem through the years.
In fact, Dayton holds the NCAA record with 400 consecutive games in which it has not been shut out dating back to Oct. 16, 1976 when Marshall won 9-0.
“On the hoof, they don’t look that impressive individually, but as a team they are very impressive,’’ Bell said. “They don’t give away games; you have to go earn it. We’re going to have to play a clean game as far as penalties and turnovers but we’re going to have to finish some drives which is something we’ve been preaching the last couple of weeks.’’
Linebacker Taylor Marsh says he has seen a new attitude from his teammates this week heading into league play.
“I can tell the mindset is setting in with the guys,’’ Marsh, from Jupiter, Fla., said. “We’re not playing as strong as we could so far. We’ve seen glimpses of brilliance on offense and defense; special teams are always playing tough. I think we all realize there are things we can do better and if we want to win this championship it has got to start this week with a strong Dayton team.’’
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on 92.5FM and 1010XL.com. The radio pregame show begins at 12:30 p.m.
- Jim Nasella