HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Jacksonville.
JACKSONVILLE (7-4 IN 2017)
Pioneer Football League (JU was 4th in 2017)
COACH: Ian Shields – 3rd year (12-9 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 29.5 ppg. (37th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 35.0 ppg. (111th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The Dolphins took a step forward last season, improving from 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the PFL to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play. This year should bring another step in the right direction as Jacksonville returns 14 starters. Most of those are on the offensive side of the ball. Besides quarterback, a majority of the weapons return on an offense that ranked 37th in the FCS in points per game. But for JU to compete at the very top of the PFL, its defense is going to need to improve off its 111th ranking in 2017.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Everyone is chasing San Diego in the standings. While the Toreros still appear to be the dominant team, it's going to be a battle for second place. That's a spot where the Dolphins can get to, especially when looking at the experience coming back.
TOP RETURNEE: RB Irvin Riley (All-PFL Second Team)
THE NEXT BEST: FB Keenan Simpson (All-PFL Second Team); LB Thomas Oporto (leading tackler); LB Caysaun Wakeley (70 tackles, 7.5 TFLs); LB Trevor Tufano (All-PFL Second Team); WR Prince Gray (34 rec., 507 yards)
DID YOU KNOW?: In 1970, Jacksonville became the second smallest school to make it to the NCAA Final Four and the national championship game.
THE QUOTE: "Everyone is a veteran here. We're in a much different place culturally as a program and we're in a much healthier, better place for our football program." — Head Coach Ian Shields said in April
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #JUPhinsUp
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @JU_Football