By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It will be the beginning of a new era on Thursday night as the Delaware Blue Hens open their 2013 football season by hosting the Jacksonville University Dolphins.
This will be the first game for the Blue Hens under their new head coach, Dave Brock.
“The players have done a great job,” Brock tells KYW Newsradio. “Came back in terrific shape which gives you an opportunity to hit the ground running. We were able to install what we needed to, had some great scrimmages, some really, really competitive environments for the players to try to harden them a little bit. After all is said and done, we’ve come out of everything fairly healthy and really excited about and looking forward to Thursday night.”
The team Brock inherited went 5-6 a season ago under former head coach K.C. Keeler.
In 2013, Brock has decided on junior Trent Hurley as his starting quarterback.
“Trent was named the starter last week,” Brock says. “He had a great camp, (senior) Trevor (Sasek) did as well. It was a great spirited competition, we just felt like Trent gave us a little bit better chance to win. Just escapability, some movement things, some things that we were really interested in doing. So that’s the direction we went. But again, I feel great about the position. I wish we had the competition at every position that we had at quarterback this summer.”
While Hurley will be the trigger man, the Blue Hens will probably go as far as senior running back Andrew Pierce’s legs can take them. The former walk-on has rushed for 3,637 yards in his career.
“We have a young guy who has an opportunity, with a good year, to be the all-time leading rusher in Delaware history,” Brock says. “That’s a storied and proud tradition here on offense. I think it starts with him, he’s a guy who has done it and is a proven commodity.”
Brock breaks down the rest of his offense.
“I think we have some terrific skill players,” Brock says. “On the outside (junior) Mike Johnson, (senior) Rob Jones, I think those guys have done a really, really good job and they’ve made a lot of plays in training camp, so that’s exciting. (Junior) Nick Boyle, our tight end, I think is going to be a breakout player, he has breakout ability. Then we have a lot of experience on the offensive line.”
On defense, Brock has nine players with starting experience.
“(Senior) Zach Kerr is where it starts probably, our defensive tackle,” Brock says. “He’s a terrific player and a captain and we’re counting on him to do great things. We’re probably deepest on the defensive line. I like our linebacker crew, I think we’ve got some guys that run around led by (junior) Pat Callaway and then our back end is a little bit inexperienced, but I think talented, so I’m looking forward to that.”
This opener against a Jacksonville team that went 7-4 a season ago, will represent the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
“They are thought to be one of the better teams in their league (Pioneer),” Brock says. “The reality is they’ll come up here and expect to win.”
Brock is ready for kick-off.
“I’m excited, but my excitement really lies in the fact that I can’t wait to watch our guys play,” Brock says. “I can’t wait to go out on the field, and watch them go and get what they deserve. They’ve worked really, really hard. Football’s such a unique sport in that you have twelve opportunities that are guaranteed to you and I want these guys to make the absolute most of every opportunity and it starts Thursday night at 7:30pm.”
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.