Blog: Offensive Dolphins
Nov. 5, 2010
In an All-American collegiate career and over a decade of professional play, Kerwin Bell experienced plenty.
"Over the course of my college and pro career, I had 11 different offensive coordinators. You get a feel for what works and frankly. what doesn't work," he said.
The Florida Gator quarterback has tapped into what works as head coach at Jacksonville University. The Dolphins are averaging a Championship Subdivision best 44.1 points and 512.6 yards per game.
"Dan Marchibroda," Bell cited as inspiration for the Dolphins' offensive. "And Steve Spurrier. We run a lot of vertical passing routes."
But it's not just a passing system being run at JU. The Dolphins are equally prolific with the rush as with the pass.
"This is an experienced group. There's a lot you can do with a quarterback like Josh [McGregor], and two outstanding rushers in Rudel Small and JJ Laster."
Both McGregor and Small rank in the top five nationally in their respective fortes. And as a result, the Dolphins are flourishing as team.
"It's been a long road to get to this point," McGregor said. "We've been playing together three years. Now we have two great running backs. Defenses want to keep us from throwing, well, we'll run. Our offensive line has over 100 total starts as a group and make a ton of time to throw."
Having options, according to McGregor and Small, is what makes JU dangerous.
"Defenses never know what we'll do," Small said. "We have a great quarterback in his third year in the offense. We have a great corps of receivers, and a great offensive line.
"That gives us chances to do a lot of different things," he said.
The results yielded from that wide open offensive play calling include a No. 23 ranking in the latest FCS Top 25 and a perfect 6-0 in Pioneer League play. Since a Week 2 loss at Appalachian State, JU has rattled off scores of 41, 42, 35, 39, 86, 56 and 61.
"[The Appalachian State] game set the tone for our whole season," Small said. "We played with them for three quarters, but let it get away from us in the fourth."
The top ranked Mountaineers rolled in the final stanza, though JU trailed by just a field goal late in the third. Bell said the performance gave his team an important belief.
"In that game, for three quarters, we played with the best team in our division," he said. "We saw we can play with scholarship Division I teams."
The offensive powerhouse in Jacksonville is comprised of non-scholarship players. The Pioneer League joins the Ivy as the only Division I conferences with such a distinction.
Prior to this season, the Pioneer champion played the winner of the Northeast Conference in the Gridirion Classic. But with the expansion of the NCAA Playoffs field to 20 teams, the NEC earned an automatic berth.
The Pioneer's petition for an automatic bid was not approved by the season's start, seemingly leaving the league's team without a postseason option. But JU is knocking on the door of an at-large berth.
"Going up to Old Dominion and beating them by 10 was big for us," Bell said. "Because they played William & Mary, which is one of the top teams in [FCS]."
What the Dolphins could accomplish in the postseason given the opportunity, Bell doesn't know. But his team would love the shot.
And the thought isn't far-fetched, given the national attention JU is drawing.
Small has garnered Walter Payton Award consideration for his 108 yards per game, 10 rushing and four receiving touchdowns.
And McGregor's is a name popping up on 2012 NFL Draft projection sites.
"Our quarterback makes NFL reads," Bell said. "He's grown. He came here somewhat small and wasn't heavily recruited, but now is 6-foot-2, about 200 pounds and has an NFL arm."