Sept. 1, 2004
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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Jacksonville Dolphins at FIU Golden Panthers
Sept. 2, 2004 • 8:00 p.m. • Miami, Fla. • Sunshine Network
FIU Community Stadium (17,000)
JU is 3-3 all-time in season openers, but has not won a road game to open the season since defeating Lenoir-Rhyne, 20-16 in 2001. The Dolphins were shut out in the 2003 season opener at Lenoir-Rhyne, 24-0, but bounced back to win three straight games. Prior to this season, JU played Lenoir-Rhyne in four consecutive season openers dating back to 1999. The Dolphins beat Davidson, 19-14, in their inaugural football game on Sept. 12, 1998.
This is the third straight season JU and FIU have played on a Thursday night. Both games were also broadcast live by the Sunshine Network and both were played under torrential rains.
Tonight's game marks the first of six games for JU against scholarship opponents this season. Dating back to the 2001 season, 6 of the Dolphins' last 8 wins have come against scholarship programs, including three wins last season (Wingate, Coastal Carolina, Webber International). JU is 0-2 all-time on live TV and is 0-4 all-time in night games. The Dolphins are 2-3 against teams from the state of Florida, having defeated Edward Waters (2002) and Webber International (2003), while losing to Florida Atlantic (2001) and Florida International (2002 & 2003).
STENGTH OF SCHEDULE... The Dolphins will once again play one of the toughest schedules among the Division I-AA non-scholarship ranks. In addition to five Pioneer Football League opponents, JU will also play six scholarship opponents. Leading the way is Florida International (70 scholarships), which is in transition to Division I-A status. Other scholarship programs include Division I-AA Charleston Southern (65 scholarships), Southeastern Louisiana (65 scholarships) and Coastal Carolina (48 scholarships). JU will also face Wingate (25 scholarships), a Division II program from the South Atlantic Conference, and Webber International, a second-year NAIA scholarship team. The Dolphins have eight wins all-time against scholarship opponents, including six in the last two seasons.
RECORD START FOR STURGILL... After just two seasons as the Dolphins' signal caller, junior QB Mike Sturgill is on the verge of rewriting the JU record books. Sturgill threw for a school-record 2,060 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2003. He began his JU career by throwing for a then school-record 1,876 yards and 11 scores, while completing a program-best 56.6 percent of his passes during his freshman campaign. The two-time All-PFL quarterback currently holds JU career records for passing yards per game (187.4) and completion percentage (53.3%). He is also tied with Gary Cooper (1998-2001) for first all-time with 31 career touchdown passes.
PRESEASON HONORS... The Dolphins were once again recognized nationally in the preseason. Senior LB Tim Hasse and senior OL Ed Templeton were tabbed Second-Team I-AA Mid-Major Preseason All-America by Don Hansen's Football Gazette, while Hasse was also honored by I-AA.org as a Second-Team I-AA Mid-Major Preseason All-American in its annual fall preview. I-AA.org also tabbed junior QB Mike Sturgill, junior right guard Josue Sanchez, Hasse and junior return specialist Chad Davis First-Team All-Pioneer Football League for the preseason.