The University of Dayton football team’s opening game against Illinois State University was described by head coach Rick Chamberlin as the team’s toughest test thus far this season.
He said the next toughest comes on Saturday, Oct. 27, when UD travels to face Pioneer Football League opponent the University of San Diego at 9 p.m. in San
“When you put it all together, it is our toughest game because of the travel, the time change, the lateness of the game late at night, and then just opponent that we’re playing,” Chamberlin said. “San Diego is one of the top teams in the PFL each and every year.”
Dayton (4-4, 3-2 PFL) has won three in a row after dropping four of its first five games this season. The latest came in a 45-0 trouncing of Valparaiso University on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Welcome Stadium.
In the contest, UD’s 631 total offensive yards were the best in school history since Dayton became a non-scholarship program in 1977. Among that yardage, 473 came on the ground, setting a PFL-record also previously held by UD.
“Our offense, I knew it would come around,” Chamberlin said. “Again, when you’re playing the spread offense there, no matter how many returners you have, it’s a timing effect there. It takes awhile to get into the groove of things both running and throwing the ball and I could see glimpses of it growing there through the first five games and then all at once we’ve really come together these last three.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Bardo said the offense has been close to getting on track all year, but now they are finally playing well.
“We thought we just weren’t clicking on all the little parts,” Bardo said. “We feel like we’ve polished those and we’re rolling there. So the sky is the limit for us.”
Through the first eight games of the season, Dayton has six players who have individually rushed for over 100 yards this season. Redshirt senior running back Dan Jacob said the running backs refer to its group as the “stable” this season.
“It is running back by committee,” Jacob said. “We all know our roles. Although I’m sure we don’t like to share playing time, but it is nice that we have a good rotation going on.”
Chamberlin said it has been a collective effort this season to get the running game on track, but it starts with the five who play
“You can talk about the offensive line because of their experience and the ability that they have up there. They’re just opening up holes. It’s just their execution of their technique. I know from a defensive standpoint, when you go against a line that executes on their techniques, you hate going against them instead of those big bodies that can’t move.”
San Diego (4-3, 3-1 PFL) enters Saturday’s game winning its previous two match ups. USD defeated Dayton at Welcome Stadium last season 31-28 on Nov. 5, 2011.
Bardo said the team knows it is about finishing the year strong, regardless of how the start of it went. He said so far it is on its way to doing so, even though the competition level is about to take a step up.
“We know the competition will be a little bit tougher than what it’s been, but we don’t prepare any differently than we have been,”
Chamberlin said the team’s confidence has grown because of the winning streak it is on, and it will be needed heading into week.
“That’s want we wanted to do is build momentum through these past three games because we knew San Diego were at the end of these three and that we we’re going against a tough opponent there and that’s part of the success is being confident in what you’re doing and right now we are playing with a lot of confidence.”