The University of Delaware football program––under the leadership of second-year head coach Dave Brock––got their season underway with their first open scrimmage in front of a crowd on Saturday August 9 at Delaware Stadium in Newark, DE. Earlier this afternoon, the squad continued preparing for its 2014 season with the annual Media Day on their
Coming off a rather disappointing 7-5 (4-4 in Capital Athletic Association) campaign a season ago, both coach Brock and senior starting quarterback Trent Hurley have high hopes for the 2014 Blue Hens’ season.
Hurley, 23, enters his third season under center for UD and has the chance to become one of the most successful signal callers in school history. And this is a school that has a rich history of quarterbacks––current Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco, current backup Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat Devlin, former Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon, former Arena Football star QB and current Kansas City Chiefs QBs coach Matt Nagy, to name a few.
“I expect to get to the playoffs this year,” Hurley said following group photos Sunday afternoon. “As a quarterback you want the ball in your hands, so to speak, and I want to get us to the playoffs. That’s my only goal.”
In 2013, Hurley tossed for career-highs in yards (2,207), touchdowns (22) and quarterback rating (155.2) while completing nearly 63% of his passes for the Blue Hens. He has two of his favorite targets returning this season in WRs Michael Johnson (60 catches, 1,035 yards, 9 TDs in ’13) and Jerel Harrison (36 catches, 350 yards, TD).
Hurley mentioned that he saw some good things from his offense in the first open scrimmage of the season on Saturday, but it was coach Brock and newly-hired assistant/WRs coach Bryan Bossard that were harping the most on some of the new guys following the scrimmage:
“I liked how hard they all compete,” Bossard said of the incoming freshmen. “It’s overwhelming the volume of offense here. They’ve all had their moments. I don’t wanna say one because we’re still in the evaluation process. My biggest evaluation for these guys that I harp on is you gotta be consistent. I’m pleased, I really am. These guys are working hard.”
Brock, when we spoke to him, mentioned several guys he thought stood out in the open scrimmage:
“I’m excited. Both tight ends, who are developmental kids, those kids are going to be really good players. When they’re 20 years old they’re going to be really, really impressive specimens. The tailbacks (Thomas Jefferson and Kareem Williams) did a terrific job and our quarterback and all three receivers did a good job. I’m really, really excited about the three linebackers––Anthony Jackson, Donte Raymond and Charlie Bell––they did an unbelievable job running around and hitting. So as a whole, the freshmen class is pretty dynamic and I’m very excited that they’re here and playing for us.”
In terms of the RB situation, Brock put to rest the questions regarding who will be the starter when asked who would play between sophomores Jalen Randolph and Wes Hills:
“Well, those two guys. They were here last year, both played last year. Jalen really played a fair amount for us and was very efficient when he got his opportunity. There were a couple games where Julian (last year’s backup RB Julian Laing) wasn’t able to play and he took on a bigger role. I would anticipate that those guys would kind of be a two-headed monster. They both have different skill-sets. Jalen, he’s a tough, physical runner––he can break tackles and get away from you a little bit. Wes, albeit a little inexperienced, is a dynamic player, very explosive. He can get out and get in the secondary. He’s going to be hard to deal with in this league. We’re hoping they can be very complimentary, and then we’re gonna play some true freshmen.”
There you have it. In one long comment regarding the RB situation, coach Brock managed to give us a very clear answer to the issue: a two-headed monster will be coming the rest of the CAA’s way this season with a pair of dangerous running backs in Jalen Randolph and Wes Hills.
At the end of the one-on-one, Brock mentioned that he believes about 12 of his freshman should see playing time this year, and the rest are likely to redshirt this season. That’s a substantial number of freshmen, which could allow the Delaware squad to prepare for the coming years while competing this year under Hurley’s final season at the helm of the offense.
As for WRs coach Bossard, he graduated from Delaware in 1989 and served as a Graduate Assistant for UD in 1990 before fully launching his coaching career at colleges and universities such as Morehouse College (’91 DBs coach), Bucknell University (DBs/returners in 1992-94), University of Wyoming (DBs in 2000-01), University of Maryland (WRs/returners 2005-07), University of Pittsburgh (WRs/returns in 2008-09) and back to Bucknell (2010-13 as OC/WRs). He received a call earlier this year to return to his alma mater to become UD’s WRs coach for the upcoming season.
“Coach Brock gave me a call, asked if I was interested. I said ‘extremely, yeah.’ It’s great coming back home,” Bossard told us Sunday afternoon. He continued “I’ve got pride for this state. I’ve always had pride in Kent County, in being from there. It’s such a great state. It’s a blue collar state and you’ve got everything you could want here. I just enjoy it.”
With guys such as senior Michael Johnson, junior Jerel Harrison and senior tight end Nick Boyle (42 catches, 474 yards, 7 TDs) catching passes in the receiving corps, it could be a very exciting return home for the Delaware alum Bryan Bossard this year.
Plenty of guys were harping on the offense, but not nearly as much on the defensive side of the ball. But senior linebacker and returning starter Pat Callaway (120 combined tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INTs in ’13) explained that he has high hopes for the incoming freshman on defense, as he reiterated what Brock said about the freshman linebackers:
“This is a great overall unit. Our motto this year is ‘Whatever it Takes,’ so we’re going to to whatever it takes to win. Everyone’s ready to contribute. Not just our starters, we’re 15 or 20 deep in terms of guys who can contribute, so we’ve got a whole list of guys ready to play and play hard.”
In terms of the freshman LBs in the scrimmage, Callaway said Bell, Raymond and Anthony (Jackson) did a great job, and it was really the first time they were able to demonstrate for their teammates what they could do when the pads were put on and the hitting and tackling started going live and full. “I’m excited to see how they progress over their careers.”
With over half of the offense (six) and half of the defense (six) returning for 2014, the University of Delaware Blue Hens football squad is looking to improve upon their disappointing 7-5 season a year ago and return to the playoffs. And they very well may have the perfect combination of experience and youth to do so this fall.
**The University of Delaware Blue Hens open their 2014 season on the road against a tough out-of-conference opponent, the University of Pittsburgh from the ACC. The game, which will serve as a sort of homecoming for QB Hurley (he grew up about an hour away from Pitt), will be played at Heinz Field––home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. It’ll be the second time in Hurley’s football career that he’ll play at Heinz, as he played a state championship game there back in his high school playing days.
**UD’s home-opener is set for September 6 against in-state rival Delaware State. We’ll be there to bring you extensive coverage of the game.
Photo: Ben Heck…UD’s QBs and QB coach Brian Ginn