Rogue Rundown: Dolphins-Tigers

Photo credit: Jacksonville University Athletics

Saturday night is the home opener for the Jacksonville Dolphins, as they welcome Edward Waters College across the St. John’s River for the second annual Jacksonville Classic. JU prevailed over EWC 49-28 at home last year and is 2-0 all time against the intracity foe.

Fun Facts About the Tigers

Founded in 1866, EWC was started to educate freed slaves, and it the oldest historically black college in Florida. The school’s president is former Jacksonville sheriff Nat Glover. The “Triple Threat Marching Band” has performed at the Honda Battle of the Bands and at halftime of Jaguars games and will be performing with JU’s band, the “Pride of the First Coast,” at halftime on Saturday.

Quarterbacks

ju-logoRylan Wells had an up-and-down opener against Liberty, throwing 126 yards on 11 completions and two interceptions. He added 31 yards rushing on nine carries, and seemed to hit a bit of a stride in the spread option attack towards the end of the game.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Three different QB’s have seen the field for EWC this year, and something similar will probably be the case Saturday, as the Tigers are expected to throw the kitchen sink at JU in hopes of an upset. Jerrod Thomas leads the way with 272 yards and two TDs but is only completing 50% of his passes.

Edge: Jacksonville. The old cliche is, if you have two QB’s (or in this case, three), you have none.

Running Backs

ju-logoThe three-headed monster of Ulysses Bryant, Jamal Adjamah and Frantz Caudio flashed both carrying and catching the football last week, but were plagued by a few miscues. Dolphin ball carriers fumbled three times against Liberty, and that will not help the new-offense click if it is not cleaned up quickly. Pernell Rattray scored the lone TD last week.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Edward Waters also runs a three-back system, but most yards on the ground have come from QB Tyler Mahla, who has 144 yards on 24 carries this year. Watch for Sir Jackson, son of former Florida standout receiver Willie Jackson, a dynamic athlete who scored a touchdown against JU last year. Also, Jamal Hughes is a threat catching the ball (6 catches, 180 yards, 1 TD) out of the backfield.

Edge: Even. This is where both offenses make their hay, look for the ball to stay in the hands of the backs a lot Saturday night.

Wide Receivers

ju-logoWhile many passes were to running backs last week, Prince Gray and Brian Burnett made the most of their opportunities. They combined for six catches for 83 yards, including a 36 yard strike to Gray down the seam. Blocking is still a work in progress, look to see if any young guys get chances Saturday.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837EWC receivers have combined for five catches this season, but Devion Laws, who caught a seven-yard touchdown last year, is scoring half the time he touches the ball (four catches, two TDs). These guys are mostly blockers too.

Edge: Even. Similar stat lines for both groups, but cannot fall asleep on either or they will make you pay.

Offensive Line

ju-logoThere were a lot of questions about the young line going in to the opener, but outside of a mishandled snap on the first offensive play of the game, the unit was solid. Biggest focus needs to be cutting down on procedure penalties.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Five 300-pounders set the tone for the Tigers up front. That being said, they are averaging only 139 rushing yards per game. We’ll see how well they move to the next level to block some of Jacksonville’s athletes in space.

Edge: Jacksonville. Coaches are excited about the potential of this unit.

Defensive Line

ju-logoThis unit struggled with the size of the Liberty offensive line and a lack of depth, managing only one tackle for loss and no sacks. Another tough task this week with the size of the EWC front line.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Brice Farmer leads a group that is averaging 1.5 sacks and 7 TFL per game, but the rest of the 4-3 front has underwhelmed to this point. We will see how they handle the motions and misdirection of JU’s offense, which needs a good push from the D-Line to disrupt.

Edge: Even. Waiting for a breakout game from either Farmer for EWC or Jareeq Crenshaw for Jacksonville.

Linebackers

ju-logoGrady Redding picked up where he left off the last couple of seasons, racking up 14 tackles against Liberty. Justin Horton and Harrison Rodormer added 15 more combined, and these guys should flourish again this week.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Gavin Anderson is a 230-pound beast in the middle, but can he run sideline to sideline to defend Jacksonville’s speed? Shaquille Stoudemire leads the team with 17 tackles, 2 for loss, this season, and had a pick-six to briefly put Edward Waters in front in last years matchup.

Edge: Jacksonville. This is close, but the athleticism and need to play assignment football separates JU.

Secondary

ju-logoAfter intercepting 20 or more passes each of the last two seasons, KJ Jenkins picked up the Dolphins first last Saturday. The speed and size of Liberty’s pass catchers proved to be a tough matchup for JU’s back end. This week will show how well they tackle.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837Kennard Mahone is a legitimate playmaker at corner. He was getting D-1 looks before an incident with the law forced him to miss time and he ended up staying in town to play at EWC. This unit has had to make too many tackles through the first two games.

Edge: Jacksonville. This group is better than they played last week.

Special Teams

ju-logoRyan Giaratano continued to average over 40 yards a punt in his six attempts last week. Freshman kicker Javier Arce-Ramirez converted his lone PAT try. The kick return game flashed some with Adjamah and Rattray deep, but no real opportunities to return a punt. Punt coverage needs to improve.

oz8s9xheps6z1d9wcepo9aqh893837This part of the game is always an adventure for the Tigers. A backup defensive lineman punts, a freshman kicker is perfect on PATs but 0-1 on field goals. Mahone returns kicks and punts.

Edge: Jacksonville. Coaches emphasize it, and we saw the dividends last week.

Bottom Line

The home opener for Jacksonville should be a chance for the team to pick up its first win of the Ian Shields era. That being said, this is Edward Waters “Super Bowl”, so they cannot be taken lightly.

Jacksonville’s home opener kicks off at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. It will air on ESPN3 and mixlr.com/judolphins.