College Football Preview: Delaware Blue Hens
By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 2013 season was one of transition in Newark as the University of Delaware football team went 7-5 in Dave Brock’s first year as head coach.
The Blue Hens are hoping to improve on that here in 2014. They were picked to finish 6th (out of 12 teams) in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll in Brock’s second year in charge.
“Each team has its own DNA,” Brock tells KYW Newsradio. “This team’s got a much different personality than last year’s team, so there’s adjustments and things that you do, you tweak them a little bit because you think you can do them better, hopefully, after a year. So we’ve changed a couple of things. We really like our schedule, very player-friendly. Really, really trying to get kids healthy and strong, and ready to peak on game day. I think the schedule allows that to happen and the kids are enjoying it.”
It really all starts with the quarterback in the CAA and the Blue Hens have a really good one in senior Trent Hurley. He completed 64% of his passes last season, throwing for 2,207 yards and 22 touchdowns, and all signs point to even more success in 2014.
“He’s done a terrific job, starting in spring practice all the way through summer workouts,” Brock says of Hurley. “He’s really tuned in and locked in to what we want and how we want to do it. Very, very experienced, had a lot of success, put us in a position to win a lot of football games last year. And again we are excited about his leadership and him taking the next step.”
Hurley keeps it simple when he talks about his goals for 2014.
“I’m just trying to get us to the playoffs, that’s my main goal,” Hurley says. “I don’t really have any individual goals. I want to get this team to the playoffs.”
Delaware averaged nearly 33 points a game last season. While they have to replace the second all-time leading rusher in program history in Andrew Pierce, there is still a lot of talent surrounding Hurley on offense. At the top of that list is talented senior wide receiver Michael Johnson who caught 60 passes last season for 1,035 yards and 9 touchdowns.
“I think everybody knows what I think of Mike,” Hurley says. “I think Mike is the best receiver in the CAA. Jerel (Harrison)’s an up and coming redshirt junior, really, really good receiver. I have (senior Nick) Boyle who is, in my opinion, is the best tight end in the CAA. So I’m excited about the weapons I have.”
While Delaware didn’t have a lot of problems scoring points in 2013, they did struggle stopping people, allowing 31.8 points a contest.
“Realistically, we have to play better defense,” Brock says. “Collectively, as a unit, we have to play better defense. That’s certainly one of the focal points of the program, we talk to the kids about it all the time. It comes down to fundamentals and trying to make sure you put the kids in the right position and get them to play the right techniques, be where they’re supposed to be and then go out and make plays when they have the opportunity. We’re really trying to develop playmakers on defense and trying to use kids’ skill sets. We have a lot more people this year than we did last year, so we’re hopefully going to be able to use some sub-packages and do some different things, and utilize some guys’ specific talents more.”
Delaware will open the 2014 season on Saturday August 30th when they visit the University of Pittsburgh.
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattleonkyw.
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