For the first time since 2010 when they reached the FCS championship game, the Blue Hens will play in the NCAA quarterfinals.
UD travels to Alabama Sunday to face Jacksonville State University. The Gamecocks provide some different challenges to the undefeated Hens.
State regulations in Alabama allow Jacksonville State to have 12,000 in attendance, meaning the Hens will deal with legitimate crowd noise for the first time this season.
The Gamecocks also have a good team. They compiled a 10-2 record playing in both the fall and spring, and Blue Hen Head Coach Danny Rocco says they feature a balanced offense.
”Big offensive line, the tight end is about 6-6, 6-7, athletic quarterback, and skill at receiver. So they're going to try to get the run game going," said Rocco."There will be a run game, RPO (Run-Pass Option) operation with an athletic quarterback, and they're big up front. At the end of the day they've out rushed about everybody they played.”
On defense, Rocco says they get big plays from their front seven.
"The most impressive thing is just the number of sacks and tackles for loss that they've had this year," said Rocco. "They have been extraordinarily disruptive."
Linebacker Johnny Buchanan is confident the Blue Hens are ready for what could be their toughest test of the year to date.
"We're a family here, we believe in ourselves completely. When we go in and win, it's not going to be a surprise to us," said Buchanan "Like I said, we have all the respect in the world for this team, it's a great football program there, but I think they have great players. I think they’re coached very well, but it's not going to be a surprise to me when we go in there and beat them and just play the way we play. This team is very tight-knit, we believe in each other. I have faith in our coaching staff to give us a great game plan, and I think we're going to be able to go out there and get a great game."
Kickoff on Sunday is set for 3 p.m., and it will be streamed on ESPN3.