Football team is set to face Jacksonville University


Guilford College football senior quarterback Karsten Miller passes a ball during practice on Sept. 20, 2017. Miller has 1109 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns through three games. Photos By Andrew Walker 2017/The Guilfordian

The Guilford College football team is playing their second Division I team of the season tomorrow. For the first time, the team will travel to Florida to play Jacksonville University.

Jacksonville is a Football Championship Subdivision team that is part of the Pioneer League. The Pioneer League is a non-scholarship Division I league that has 11 teams in it.

Both teams will come in with a 2-1 record after the Dolphins defeated Marist College last Saturday, 44-37. Guilford lost on the road at Davidson College, 42-21, in their last game.

The Quakers are coming off a bye week as they prepares to face the triple-option offense of Jacksonville. Old Dominion Athletic Conference opponent Washington & Lee University also runs the same offense, and the Quakers will play them on Oct. 14.

“We’re going to get a chance to compete against an offense that we’re going to see two weeks later,” said head coach Chris Rusiewicz. “So we’ll be able to learn a lot from this game as well as prep for our conference opponent down the road.

Triple-option offense is based on running the ball and pitching it to the running backs. This puts lots of pressure on the defense to be in the right position and not letting anyone be unmarked. Defensive players are given players on the opposite side to focus on in order to decipher the confusion caused by a triple-option.

“Everybody has an assignment,” said senior C.J. Nash, a defensive lineman. “I have quarterback, somebody has running back.”

Jacksonville head coach Ian Shields has lots of experience running the triple-option, as he was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator for Army West Point. The team never ranked lower than 16th in the country in rushing during his time there and led Division I in rushing in 2011 and 2012.

On the offensive side, the Quakers look for senior quarterback Karsten Miller to continue to lead the offense to the end zone. Miller has piled on 1109 yards and 10 touchdowns through the first three games.

“Anytime our offense goes out onto the field, they’re expected to score,” said Rusiewicz. “We are a very high-powered offense. The key there is going to be their defensive line against our offensive line, and they’re going to be very big and physical up front.”

Redshirt junior running back De’Eric Bell is continuing to quickly gain yards in every facet of the offense this season. Bell has 194 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, 301 kick return yards and 152 punt return yards. Bell has three rushing touchdowns and a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Methodist University.

The Quakers first Division I matchup this year ended in a 42-21 loss to Davidson. Guilford struggled in the first half and were down 42-7 at half before shutting out the Wildcats in the second half. Karsten Miller had 373 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, including a 59-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Khylil Miller, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who transferred from Eastern Kentucky University before the season. Khylil Miller had 192 receiving yards in the game on catches.

“We got to take advantage of every opportunity and can’t let them slip away,” said Rusiewicz. “Against Davidson, we dropped three touchdown passes. You can’t do that.

“We dropped two interceptions. We can’t do that. We’ve had some missed assignments. You can’t do those things.”

Without the mistakes the team felt that the game could have been very different.

“I think if we would have made less mental mistakes we would’ve beat them,” said Nash.

This year, Guilford has been away for all four of its non-conference games, including a trip to Alabama. The trip home from Alabama was 10 hours and they got back at 4 a.m. the next day.

“I think our program thrives when we travel,” said Rusiewicz. “I think there is an advantage to traveling, less distractions when you travel in terms of things that can happen the night before a game.”

The game against Jacksonville will only happen this year as next year the ODAC adds Ferrum College, which will cut the nonconference schedule for the Quakers to three.

After Jacksonville, Guilford will have their first home game of the season of the season against ODAC opponent Hampden-Sydney College on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.

The Jacksonville game will be broadcast on ESPN3.