NFL teams get four exhibition games before they start counting for real. High school teams can scrimmage other schools before their season starts, but college coaches don’t really find out about their teams until the lights come on for real.
Rick Chamberlin will learn some things in a hurry about the 2019 edition of Dayton football. The Flyers open the season Saturday at Indiana State. The Sycamores (0-1) are ranked 14th in latest FCS poll, despite a 24-17 loss at Kansas last week.
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“They’re just a physically really good team,” the Flyers head coach said. “Being on the road, being without our Flyer fans and going up against a team like Indiana State is going to be a big challenge.”
The last time Dayton and Indiana State played football, Chamberlin was on the field. The Flyers split games with the Sycamores in Terre Haute in 1975 and 1976 and haven’t played since.
The Flyers return 13 starters from a team than finished 6-5, but the last two season Dayton has lost as many games as it’s won.
“We’re usually a very strong team, not that .500 team we’ve had these past two years,” senior safety Tim Simon said before practice this week. “I think we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder and we’re excited to prove to everybody not count us out.”
Dayton will follow Saturday’s opener with a trip to Pittsburgh next week for the annual meeting with Robert Morris. The Flyers home opener is set for Saturday, Sept. 21 against Duquesne.
“What I like right now is their grit.” Chamberlin said of his team. Just the idea about are we tough enough. We’ve been through some physical practices this summer and I’ve seen them be resilient.”
An injury last season helped give the Flyers some much needed experience at a key position last season. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Cook was forced into duty last season an responded with 2,400 yards passing and 20 touchdowns.
“Jack has just gotten better,” Chamberlin said. “He was a good quarterback last year but he got better in the spring ball and in summer camp and what I really like about him is his decision making.”
It’s a safe bet NFL scouts will find their way to just about every game the Flyers play this season. Senior Adam Trautman is considered by many to be one of the best tight ends in college football this season.
The former quarterback has caught 17 touchdown passes in three seasons for the Flyers. He’s led Dayton in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons.
Dayton starts another season with the longest scoring streak in college football. The Flyers haven’t been shutout in 476 games, dating back to October of 1976.
Dayton at Indiana State, 1 p.m., 1290, 95.7 WHIO Radio