Third time’s the charm

Taking a look at Ferris’ National Semi Final performances

Ferris football is making its third trip in school history to the NCAA Division II National Semifinal, so how does this season compare to the previous two trips?

The Bulldogs are back in the Semi Finals for the first time since 2016 and the team looks a little different than it did then. The team in 2016 did not have the powerhouse of a quarterback that Ferris junior Jayru Campbell is, but had substantial play from their quarterbacks, mostly by Ferris alum Reggie Bell. Looking at his junior year, Bell and Campbell’s stats are nearly identical through the 13 games that both players played.

In 2016 Bell rushed for a total of 1,217 yards while completing a total of 2,085 passing yards. Campbell has Bell beat in both categories, passing more than rushing, but only 18 yards separate the two quarterbacks on the ground as Campbell has a total of 1,235 rushing yards under his belt. Also like Campbell, Bell had to sit out at least one game due to an injury he sustained during a
game.

It is very clear that both teams were led heavily by their quarterbacks, but the difference maker between the 12-3 team in 2016 to the 14-0 team in 2018 is the defense. Coming into the year, there were questions about how strong the defense would be since standouts like Ferris alums Zach Sieler and Tavierre Thomas both left and are now in the NFL. Despite the questioning, the defense statistical wise is even better than the NFL talent that was on the 2016 team. Allowing five less points per game and 40 less total yards, the defense has proved that it is high caliber.

It is apparent that both of these teams share their similarities, almost exactly to the point. As the 2018 team has the 2016 team beat in every category besides passing yards per game, it is impressive how close everything is, which could relate to the success that both teams had in the playoffs. The 2018 offense has produced 497 total yards of offense a game while averaging 39 points per game, while the 2016 team averaged 479 yards with 38 points per game, nearly exact.

Since this is the third time the Bulldogs have made it to the semifinals in school history, you would have to go all the way back to 1995 to talk about the first semifinal appearance in school history, where only a handful of players on the current roster were born.

The 1995 Ferris football team, just like this year’s team, went undefeated during the regular season and won the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference outright, which is the equivalent of the now Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that the Bulldogs are in. In 1995, the Bulldogs averaged 36 points through the 12 games it took them to get to the National Semi Final while only allowing an average of 20 points per game for their opponent.

What this 2018 team is trying to do is make Ferris history and become the first Ferris football team to ever make it to the National Championship after their previous two trips to the semifinal fell short.