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This Week: The Ferris State University football team kicks off its 2007 11-game campaign and 99th season of varsity competition Saturday, Sept. 1, versus the Kentucky State University Thorobreds in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-conference matchup at Top Taggart Field. Tickets for all home games will be available at the gate or may be purchased in advance by contacting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888. In addition, tickets can be bought online at www.starticketsplus.com.
Media Coverage: Saturday’s game will be carried live locally by WYBR (102.3 FM) with Jason DaDay handling the play-by-play duties. A live video and audio webcast will also be available through B2 Networks for a charge of $6 on FSU’s Athletics Website at www.ferris.edu/sports (Click on B2 Networks icon). Live internet statistics via “GameTracker” will also be available during the game via FSU’s athletics website.
Season Openers: Ferris State will be participating in its 97th season opener since 1900 (no scores available in 1912 & 1916) and has compiled a 40-51-5 (.443 winning pct.) record. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 18 season openers to date, which includes three of their last 10 overall. Head coach Jeff Pierce has posted a 5-7-0 career mark in season-opening contests. Ferris recorded a 31-13 non-league triumph over Kentucky State in last year’s (2006) season opener held in Frankfort, Ky.
Preseason All-Americans: Senior defensive tackle Kurt Hout (Arvada, Colo./West) and junior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville) have been chosen as 2007 preseason All-Americans by D2football.com. Hout was recognized as one of 12 first-team defensive selections while Visser earned second-team preseason laurels. Visser earlier this summer was tabbed as both a 2007 Street & Smith's Division II Preseason All-America First Team selection along with being named to the 2007 Lindy's College Football Preview All-Division II Preseason All-America Second Team.
Preseason Recognition: The Bulldogs earned preseason recognition this summer as the nation's 18th-ranked squad in the 2007 Lindy's College Football Preview Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll. FSU was not ranked, but was listed among other schools receiving votes in the 2007 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll. Expectations are high after Ferris State concluded the 2006 campaign at 8-3-0 overall, which represented the program's most single-season victories since 1996. The Bulldogs also finished the year ranked 17th in Don Hansen's Football Gazette's final Division II Top 40 poll and 22nd nationally in D2Football.com's final Top 25 poll.
2006 Records: Ferris State registered a 8-3-0 overall record and placed third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) with a 7-3-0 mark. The Bulldogs were 3-2 at home and 5-1 on the road a season ago. Kentucky State is currently 0-1-0 overall in the 2007 season after dropping a 21-6 non-conference contest at home Saturday (Aug. 25) to Mercyhurst in Frankfort, Ky. Last season, the Thorobreds compiled a 7-4-0 overall record with a fourth-place 4-3-0 mark in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). KSU was 3-2 at home, 3-2 on the road, and 1-0 at neutral sites last fall.
The Coaches: Ferris State – Jeff Pierce (Ferris State, 1979), 13th season, 77-55-0 (.583) – (1-0-0 vs. Kentucky State). Pierce has compiled a 39-24-0 (.619) coaching mark in home encounters and is 29-20-0 (.592) in September contests to date. Pierce, who played at Ferris (defensive back) from 1974-77, is the 12th head coach in Ferris State’s history.
Kentucky State – Fred T. Farrier (Holy Cross, 1994), 3rd season, 13-10-0 (.565) – (0-1-0 vs. Ferris State). Farrier was named the 29th head coach in KSU history March 2005 after spending 2004 at Shaw (N.C.) as the Bears’ offensive coordinator and associate head coach. Farrier also served two seasons (1998-99) as a graduate assistant coach at Michigan State under coach Nick Saban and was the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Saginaw Valley State in 2000.
Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 12 of its last 18 seasons and in seven of head coach Jeff Pierce’s 12 years at FSU. The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.
More Preseason Honors: FSU senior guard Bill Bourdlais (Newberry) and Jake Visser were both named to the 2007 Don Hansen’s Football Gazette NCAA Division II Preseason All-America Team. A total of 153 players representing four geographic regions of Division II were named to the annual preseason listing.
Up Next: Ferris opens GLIAC action by hosting the Mercyhurst Lakers Saturday, Sept. 8, in a 7 p.m. (EDT) tilt at Top Taggart Field.
Pro Hopefuls: Defensive tackle Kurt Hout was regarded as one of the top 15 NCAA Division II players being considered by National Football League scouts, according to the 2007 D2football.com Pro Hopefuls List. The Pro Hopefuls List, which was put together by D2football.com Pro Prospects correspondant Josh Buchanan, listed the top 15 prospects overall. In addition, 35 other players were ranked behind them with offensive guard Bill Bourdlais found as the 35th-best D2 prospect coming out this year. Buchanan also posted a 53-man team roster of Division II prospective players and the list included Hout, Bourdlais and Bulldog senior safety Patrick Wells (Miamisburg, Ohio).
Welcome Back Troops: The Bulldogs took a break from their 2007 preseason camp schedule on Aug. 17 to help welcome home and honor a unit which recently finished serving a greater purpose. The Bulldog players and coaching staff were among the first to greet three buses full of local national guard members, who returned home from a 14-month tour of duty in Iraq. After the second of two practice sessions, the Ferris players, coaches and staff helped form a human tunnel as the 148 members of the 125th Infantry Battalion of E Company came off the bus in Mecosta County and entered FSU's Jim Wink Arena, where a large celebration was held in front of family and friends before a near capacity crowd of 1,900 people.
Game Day Promotions: Ferris will have a special game day promotion for each of its final five home contests following the season opener at Top Taggart Field. Community Night will be held in conjunction with FSU's second home tilt versus Mercyhurst (Sept. 8) with the annual Fireworks Night to take place after the contest. FSU's game against Hillsdale (Sept. 22) will represent Community Health Day while the Northern Michigan (Sept. 29) matchup will mark the school's eighth-annual Hall of Fame Day contest. Homecoming is set for Oct. 20 when the Bulldogs host Ashland with the Senior Day activities taking place Nov. 3 during FSU's regular-season home finale against Northwood.
Rankings Info: The Bulldogs are listed 28th in the 2007 College Sports Report Division II preseason rankings (www.collegesportsreport.com). Ferris placed fourth among the GLIAC schools featured in the College Sports Report rankings ....... D2football.com columnist Tony Nicolette, who will cover the GLIAC for the online service this fall, has the Bulldogs picked second in his preseason league listing this year behind Grand Valley State.
Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 8, as the squad's freshmen reported to campus for the first time. The Bulldogs' returning veterans reported Thursday, Aug. 9, with the squad's first official practice held Friday, Aug. 10. Prior to the Kentucky State game, FSU will have held 25 total workouts along with two scrimmages. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only has featured practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held last Friday (Aug. 24) morning. Classes at Ferris State University began on Monday (Aug. 27) as the Bulldogs started their usual game-week routine.
Non-Conference Matchups: Ferris is 6-7-0 (.462) in non-league games dating back to 1990 and has won three of its last five outings, including last year’s 31-13 triumph at Kentucky State. Since 1990, the Bulldogs are 5-6-0 (.455) on the road as 10 of their last 11 non-conference games have been away from Big Rapids. The lone non-league home tilt in that stretch was a 33-21 win over Hillsdale (non-GLIAC game) in 2002 (9/7).
New Rules To Watch: The biggest rule change this season will be on kickoffs, as the ball will now be placed five yards back at the 30-yard line rather than the previous spot at the 35-yard line. Other rule changes this year were geared toward adding plays to the game that were eliminated by rule changes last year. The clock now will stop on possession changes and won't start on kickoffs until the receiving team touches the ball.
FSU Among 2006 NCAA Division II Leaders: Ferris ranked among the top 100 NCAA-II teams in 10 statistical categories last season, including: 20th in team sacks (2.64 spg.), 21st in rushing offense (182.8 ypg.), 31st in pass efficiency (139.8 avg.), 37th in sacks allowed (1.55 spg.), and 46th in total offense (343.6 ypg.). Individually, Jake Visser led the GLIAC and was ninth nationally in sacks (1.0 spg.) along with 30th in solo tackles (4.7 avg.).
Home Openers: Ferris is 39-39-4 (.500) in home openers dating back to 1920, which includes a 9-8-0 mark since 1990. The Bulldogs are 8-6 in their last 11 home-opening encounters. This year represents the first time since 2004 the Bulldogs’ first game of the year has been at home.
Team Captains: The team captains for the 2007 season are senior quarterback C.J. Van Wieren (Holland/West Ottawa) and senior guard Bill Bourdlais (Newberry) on offense. Junior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville) and senior end Erik Schumacher (Lake Isabella/Beal City) will be the defensive captains. None of the four individuals served as a team captain last season.
Did You Know?: The Bulldogs’ 8-3-0 overall mark last season (2006) represented the program’s best mark since Ferris recorded a 10-2-0 overall record and reached the NCAA-II National Quarterfinals in 1996.
Postgame Reception: The Ferris State Gridiron Club will be hosting a post-game “After Glow” reception following each Bulldog home game this season at “The Gate”, the new family entertainment complex located on Perry Street in Big Rapids.