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It's gonna be a hot one


The weather forecast for Sunday's season-opener is calling for one of the hottest days of the year. Temperatures during the game might reach into the upper 90's. That fact hasn't been lost on the Jaguars.

"There are sheets (of paper) around here about hydrating, and they also say the heat is our friend. We're trying to use that to our advantage. We have to hydrate properly, starting yesterday. We're going to be OK," Jaguars running back Fred Taylor said on Thursday.

The Jaguars will be dressed in their cool whites, forcing the visiting Tennessee Titans, of course, to slide into their navy blue jerseys. Ah, yes, one p.m. in Florida in early September. Some things never change.

"It takes its toll," defensive end Reggie Hayward said of the heat. "They're comfortable at 85 degrees. If you're not totally hydrated, it'll take its effect."

The heat appeared to take a devastating toll on Dallas in a one p.m. opener in Jacksonville last year. The Cowboys came out smokin', taking a 10-0 lead in their first two possessions. Then they quickly burned out, as the Jaguars rallied for a 24-17 win.

Seattle was burned out by halftime in its 26-14 loss at Jacksonville in a one o'clock start on Sept. 11, 2005. The Seahawks held a 14-13 lead at halftime in that game, but never scored another point.

The Jaguars haven't lost a one o'clock home game in early September since Jack Del Rio's first year as head coach, when Buffalo put a 38-17 knot on the Jaguars' heads and sent them on their way to a 1-7 start.

Tennessee is an AFC South Division opponent, of course, and is well aware of the Jacksonville heat effect. The last time the Titans played a one o'clock game in Jacksonville in Sept. was in 2001, when the Jaguars scored a rousing 13-6 victory. The temperature that day, however, was a relatively cool 84.

The sun isn't the only thing that promises to warm the air on Sunday. The Jaguars and Titans have long been division rivals and the last time these two teams played the result was a pivotal loss for the Jaguars. It began a three-game collapse that left the Jaguars out of the playoffs last season.

"I don't think any of the rookies know what it's about. Come Sunday, they'll know," Taylor said of the intensity of this rivalry. "It's going to be ugly. It's going to be a dogfight."

The Titans ended a two-year slump that had produced a 9-23 record by rallying from a slow start to finish 8-8 and, technically, in second place in the AFC South last season. Quarterback Vince Young, the third pick of last year's draft, was the catalyst to that recovery. Dramatic big plays propelled Young to rookie of the year honors.

In two games against the Jaguars, however, Young more closely resembled the flop of the year. He threw three interceptions and posted an anemic 30.2 passer rating in a 37-7 loss in Jacksonville, and completed only eight passes for 85 yards in the Titans' win over the Jaguars in Nashville.

Clearly, the Jaguars had his number last season. So what will they do this Sunday?

"Keep him wondering if we're coming or not," defensive end Reggie Hayward said. "Try to give him a lot of looks and throw a lot of things in his face."

"We don't need to make big-time quotes. Sunday's here," Jaguars middle linebacker Mike Peterson said.

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