On paper, Ferris State will be fielding a much different team in 2009 compared to the one that took the field in burgundy and gold in 2008.
With an inexperienced offense, the Bulldogs were able to lean on their defense in route to a 6-5 (5-5 GLIAC) record. However, this year will be a 180 degree turn-a-round from last season’s squad as this season kicks off.
Ferris is ranked seventh overall in the GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason Poll. In order to prove that prediction wrong and improve on the 2008 record of 6-5, Ferris will need several new faces to step up and play beyond expectations on defense as they replace the seven lost starters. The offense will have to use last years experience and take advantage of the returning nucleus in order to take large strides in the upcoming year.
Heading into the 2009 season there are many new faces amongst the Bulldog’s defense having lost seven starters from the 2008 team. The only returning starters are Kory Deering (DT), Angelo Williams (CB), and C.J. Lee (FS). Defensive captain Chad Wilson (SS) tore his ACL in practice and will be out for the year.
That leaves very noticeable holes in the front seven as they have lost all three starting linebackers and three-time All-American defensive tackle Jake Visser. Jordan Morgan who was red-shirted as a freshman is having an excellent camp and is expected to start at DE.
Even though they lost all three linebackers, defensive coordinator Duane Wilson said there should not be much drop off from last year at the position since they have several fourth year and fifth year seniors at the position.
Ferris has also brought in fourteen recruits on the defensive side of the ball, which should bring a lot of competition to the seven open spots.0
“We may not be as big as we were last year, but we are very athletic and quick so expect an aggressive defense,” said Coach Wilson.
Another thing to watch for on the defensive side of the ball is the possibility of seeing a 3-4 scheme at times this year. Coach Wilson said they will be sticking with their basic 4-3 scheme but since they have quite a few linebackers that can run, they may implement the 3-4 at certain times throughout the year. If teams start trying to spread the Bulldog defense out, keep an eye open for a possible change of strategy on defense.
The offense will be returning seven starters including two wide receivers, four offensive linemen, and quarterback’s Tom Schneider and Kyle Parrish. Schneider and Parrish will be battling for playing time and there is also the possibility of both of them being on the field at the same time.
The biggest difference maker on offense should not be a particular player but the experience that they gained from last year, which in turn should make this year’s offense a much more consistent force. Ferris will be looking to improve its average16.5 points per game, which ranked last in the GLIAC. Last year the Bulldogs struggled notably in the first and third quarters in which they were outscored 56 – 105. Lack of experience and consistency is what Coach Pierce believes was the main culprit to the Bulldogs offensive woes.
|2009 Football Schedule|
|Aug. 29||Tiffin||7:00 PM|
|Sept. 5||Ashland (Fireworks)||7:00 PM|
|Sept. 12||@ Findlay||12:00 PM|
|Sept. 19||Grand Valley (Blues & BBG)||7:00 PM|
|Sept. 26||@ Northern Michigan||4:00 PM|
|Oct. 3||Michigan Tech||7:00 PM|
|Oct. 10||Indianapolis (Homecoming)||2:00 PM|
|Oct. 17||@ Wayne State||12:00 PM|
|Oct. 24||@ Northwood||12:00 PM|
|Oct. 31||Hillsdale (Hall of Fame Game)||2:00 PM|
|Nov. 7||@ Saginaw Valley||12:00 PM|
A big factor last year which hurt the team was their inefficiency once they got the ball within the red zone. They were able to score thirteen touchdowns on 31 trips within the opponent’s twenty-yard line. This year Coach Pierce believes that with the experience they gained from last season the offense will be able to develop more of a comfort zone and have the ability to keep teams more on their heels.
“Our team will be very competitive, show a lot of passion to be successful, and will play with high energy,” said Coach Pierce.
The key games this year will include a “home” game against Michigan Tech (Oct. 3) which will be held at Fifth Third Ball Park in nearby Comstock Park. The “Battle at the Ballpark” will serve as a fundraiser and give Ferris a unique and exciting stage to showcase their program. Though the field is not setup for football, Coach Pierce believes fans should look forward to seeing their Bulldogs in a different and more exciting atmosphere.
Another key match-up will be when Ferris hosts four time defending league champion and pre-season favorite Grand Valley State (Sep. 9). The Bulldogs will be opening their 101st season on Aug. 29 when they host Tiffin University in the season opener.