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Weekly Release #2: Ferris State at Ashland

Sept. 6, 2008 -- 1 p.m. (EDT)
Community Stadium -- Ashland, Ohio

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    Jake Visser This Week: The Ferris State University football team opens Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action Saturday, Sept. 6, by visiting the Ashland Eagles for a 1 p.m. (EDT) league tilt at AU’s Community Stadium in Ashland, Ohio. For ticket information, please call the AU Ticket Office at (419) 289-5441.

    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 be available through B2 Networks for a pay-per-view charge on FSU’s Athletics Website at www.ferris.edu/sports (Click on B2 Networks icon). Live internet statistics are also tentatively slated to be available. Links for all coverage will be posted on the FSU website and can be found by clicking the “internet event schedule” icon.

    FSU Opens With Win: The Ferris offense scored two early touchdowns and the Bulldog defense came up with a big stop on a potential game-winning field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter as FSU escaped with a narrow 14-12 victory to open the 2008 campaign and its 100th season of varsity action last Saturday (Aug. 30) over the Tiffin Dragons in a non-league tilt at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin, Ohio. The contest represented the first-ever series' meeting between the two teams. FSU redshirt freshman quarterback Tom Schneider (Jerome/Addison) threw a TD pass and ran for another score while making his collegiate debut in the season-opening triumph. Ferris State scored on its first two offensive possessions and the Bulldog defensive unit forced three turnovers while limiting the Eagles to minus three yards rushing in the win.

    Preseason All-Americans: Senior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville), senior cornerback Terrell Heggins (Lansing/Everett) along with senior middle linebacker Kevin Noe (Orleans/Belding) were chosen as 2008 preseason All-Americans by various sources. A returning All-American, Visser earned consensus preseason acclaim by being named to the 2008 Lindy's College Football Preview All-Division II Preseason First Team along with the D2football.com Preseason All-America First Team, the Consensus Draft Services (CDS) Division II Preseason All-America Second Team and the Sporting News Division II Preseason All-America Team. Lindy's also selected Visser as its Division II Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Heggins was chosen as a first-team pick by Lindy’s College Football Preview while Noe attained CDS First Team honors. Noe claimed additional honors from CDS by being named to its 2009 All-Underappreciated Third Team from all levels of competition.

    The Records: Ferris State is currently 1-0 this season after last week’s 14-12 non-league win at Tiffin. FSU registered a 7-4-0 (including forfeit win) overall record in 2007 and placed tied for fourth in the GLIAC with a 6-4 mark. The Bulldogs were 4-2 at home and 3-2 on the road last year. Ashland is presently 0-1 overall after Saturday’s (Aug. 30) thrilling 49-42 non-conference home loss versus nationally 25th-ranked Bloomsburg (Pa.). AU posted a 8-2-0 overall record and reached the NCAA-II Playoffs in 2007. The Eagles were 4-0 at home a year ago and placed second in the GLIAC with a 8-1 league slate.

    The Coaches: Ferris State – Jeff Pierce (Ferris State, 1979), 14th season, 86-58-0 (.597) – (6-5-0 vs. Ashland). Pierce has compiled a 43-32-0 (.573) coaching mark in road encounters and is 33-21-0 (.611) 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. Ashland – Lee Owens (Bluffton, 1977), 5th season, 26-17-0 (.605); Career: 14th season, 66-78-0 (.458) - (2-2-0 vs. Ferris State). Owens previously served as head coach at NCAA Division I Akron (Ohio) from 1995-2003 and guided the Zips to a share of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division title in 2000.

    Eagles Ranked: Ashland was ranked 15th in both this year’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and D2football.com Preseason National Polls. The Eagles, who were picked to finish second in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, dropped to 24th nationally this week (Sept. 2) in the AFCA poll by virtue of its loss to Bloomsburg.

    Next Week: Ferris’ 2008 home opener is against the Findlay Oilers on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich. A variety of events are planned for the evening game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. (EDT). It will also represent FSU’s Community, Fireworks and Health Care Night with the traditional fireworks display after the game.

    The 100th Season: The 2008 campaign represents the Bulldogs’ 100th season of varsity competition. The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons. Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons. Ferris has posted an all-time record of 361-403-40 (.474) to date following Saturday’s win at Tiffin.

    New Starters: Seven Ferris players made their first career starts in a Bulldog uniform at Tiffin. The group included five players on the offensive side of the ball in senior guard Josh Brenning (Elyria, Ohio), senior tackle Tom Thornton (Flushing), sophomore slot receiver Tim Hogue (Dearborn/Inkster), redshirt freshman receiver Damien Miller (Elsie/Ovid-Elsie) along with Tom Schneider at the quarterback spot. Defensively, two players made their initial FSU starts in sophomore tackle Jacob Moreno (Holt) and senior transfer Darnell Wilson (Lansing/Sexton) at one of the end positions. Wilson transferred prior to this year from Kentucky State.

    Visser Making His Mark: Bulldog senior Jake Visser continues to climb several lists in the FSU record book. Visser moved into sixth place on the school’s career sacks list with 1.5 sacks at Tiffin. He currently has 21.5 sacks in his career and is a half-sack shy of tying former Bulldog standout Bo Moore (1999-02) for fifth place on the all-time chart. Additionally, Visser presently has 294 career tackles and needs only six more to tie Dan Krupp (1984-87) for 18th place on the school list.

    Another First Game Win: Ferris State improved to 42-51-5 (.454 winning pct.) all-time in season opening tilts with Saturday’s victory. The Bulldogs have now won 12 of their last 20 season openers to date, which includes five of their last 12 overall. Head coach Jeff Pierce has now split his 14 career season-opening contests. This year marks the third-straight year the Bulldogs have opened the season with a victory following back-to-back triumphs over Kentucky State in 2006 and 2007.

    Non-League Triumph: FSU also improved to 8-7-0 (.533) in non-league games dating back to 1990 with the win at Tiffin. Ferris has currently won five of its last seven such outings. Since 1990, the Bulldogs are 6-6-0 (.500) on the road as 11 of their last 13 non-conference games have been away from home.

    First Touchdown: Ferris redshirt freshman receiver Seth Hubbard (Elwell/Alma) scored his first career touchdown on his first-ever pass reception in his initial collegiate contest only 1:08 into the second quarter at Tiffin. Hubbard hauled in a 14-yard scoring pass on the Bulldogs’ second scoring drive of the game as Tom Schneider also recorded his first collegiate TD pass.

    No Running: FSU limited Tiffin to minus three (-3) yards rushing, which marked the first time the Bulldogs had held an opponent to a negative rushing yardage figure since Mercyhurst finished with -33 yards rushing against Ferris in 2006 (9/9). The Bulldogs previously gave up 100 yards or more on the ground in all 11 games last fall.

    Conference Openers: Ferris State is 9-18-1 (.339) in conference openers since 1980 and sports a 5-7-1 (.423) road mark in those outings during that period. The Bulldogs dropped a 42-23 league-opening decision to Mercyhurst last season (9/8/08) at home. FSU previously beat Mercyhurst on the road to open the conference slate by a 28-7 count in 2006 (9/9/06). Prior to that contest, Ferris had lost its three previous league openers away from home.

    Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 6, as the squad's freshmen reported to campus for the first time. The Bulldogs' returning veterans reported Thursday, Aug. 7, with the squad's first official practice held Friday, Aug. 8. FSU held 25 total workouts along with two scrimmages prior to the game at Tiffin. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only featured practices and scrimmages, but also included meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held Aug. 22. Classes at Ferris State University began this Tuesday (Sept. 2).

    FSU Among 2007 NCAA Division II Leaders: Ferris ranked among the top 100 NCAA-II teams in nine statistical categories last season, including: 27th in net punting (33.8 avg.), 28th in rushing offense (212.5 ypg.) and 50th in total offense (391.9 ypg.). FSU was also 55th in scoring offense (29.1 ppg.) at the NCAA-II level.

    Second Interception: Ferris junior safety Chad Wilson (Howell) registered the second interception of his Bulldog career in the win over Tiffin. He previously recorded an interception in 2006 against Saginaw Valley State (9/16/06) as FSU pulled out a thrilling 26-23 victory over the nationally-ranked Cardinals at Top Taggart Field.

    Great Recovery: Ferris State’s Jake Visser notched the sixth fumble recovery of his career in the win over Tiffin. Visser tallied two recoveries apiece in both 2005 and 2007 along with a single such recovery during the 2006 campaign. His six recoveries in his career rank tied for second on the school’s all-time list. Former Bulldog greats Monty Brown (1989-92) and Ed Philion (990-93), who both went on to play in the NFL, registered a school-record seven recoveries apiece in their careers.

    First Game Jitters: Eleven different Ferris players saw their first-ever action in a Bulldog uniform at Tiffin. In addition to starters Tom Schneider, Damien Miller and Darnell Wilson, the Bulldogs also had seven other first-timers on the field including three receivers in freshmen Seth Hubbard, David Freeman (Westland/Wayne Memorial) and Mike Ryan (Howell) along with junior quarterback Kyle Parrish (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago). Four others saw action on special teams including redshirt freshmen Jake Hancock (Big Rapids), Russell Weatherspoon (Detroit/Pershing) and Muneer Bawayeh (Dearborn/Fordson) in addition to junior Kevin Ward (Commerce/Lakeland).

    Preseason Listings: Ferris was listed 46th in the 2008 College Sports Report Division II preseason rankings (www.collegesportsreport.com). Ferris placed seventh among the GLIAC schools featured in the College Sports Report rankings. The listing included 148 schools at the NCAA Division II level ...... D2football.com columnist Tony Nicolette, who is covering the GLIAC for the online service again this fall, had the Bulldogs picked eighth in his preseason league listing this year.

    Game Day Promotions: Ferris will have a special game day promotion for each of its five home contests this season at Top Taggart Field. Community, Fireworks and Health Care Night will be held in conjunction with FSU's first home tilt versus Findlay (Sept. 13) with the annual Fireworks Night to take place after the contest. A Blues & BBQ pregame party will also take place featuring blues’ artist Big Daddy Fox and the Krewe. FSU's game against Northern Michigan (Sept. 27) will mark the school's ninth-annual Hall of Fame Day contest. Homecoming is set for Oct. 18 when the Bulldogs host Wayne State with a 40th Reunion Day for the school’s 1968 undefeated team planned in conjunction with the Northwood game (Oct. 25). Senior Day activities will take place Nov. 8 during FSU's regular-season home finale against Saginaw Valley State.

    Team Captains: FSU’s team captains for the 2008 campaign are senior receiver Cole Meredith (Big Rapids) and junior quarterback Eric Grozenski (Rochester Hills/Notre Dame Prep) on the offensive side along with senior defensive tackle Jake Visser and senior linebacker Jordan Moore (Ada/Lowell) on the defensive side. Visser is the lone player of the four who also served as a team captain last season.

    New Faces: Three new faces have joined the Ferris coaching staff for 2008. Prior to the start of camp, head coach Jeff Pierce filled open positions on the staff with the addition of former Bulldog standout Whitney Bell, longtime collegiate coach Allen Curtiss and Eric Ravellette, who most recently spent the last two seasons as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Southeast Missouri State. Additionally, Chris Reese was promoted to the defensive backs and video coordinator position following two years as a defensive assistant. Bell spent the summer 2008 season as a member of the Arena Football League's (AFL) Grand Rapids Rampage, Curtiss previously was on the staff for 20 years at Bluffton (Ohio) while Ravellette played collegiately and was on the staff at Western Kentucky before going to Southeast Missouri State. Bell will coach the defensive line, Ravellette takes over the offensive line and recruiting coordinator duties with Curtiss serving as the special teams coordinator and running backs coach.

    Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 13 of its last 19 seasons and in eight of head coach Jeff Pierce’s 13 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.

    Tough Go: Ferris holds a 26-41 (.388) all-time record against teams from the state of Ohio in school history. The Bulldogs have played 10 schools from the Buckeye state and have fared the best against those teams now competing in the GLIAC. FSU holds a 9-9 mark versus Findlay and is 8-12 overall against Ashland. The Bulldogs also own four wins (4-6) over Ohio Northern, are unbeaten versus Cedarville (2-0) and have defeated Tiffin, Wilmington and Defiance once each in the program’s history. Ferris’ worst mark has come against Central State, which owns a 7-0 record against the Bulldogs although the two teams have not met since 1986.

    Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at www.ferris.edu/sports (click on football and then Bulldog Gameday). The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.

    Yearbook Available Online: The 2008 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view online in a PDF format. The 68-page publication features such information as 2008 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2007 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc. Visit the FSU athletics website at www.ferris.edu/sports to find the publication online.

    Follow The Bulldogs: Bulldog fans now have the ability to catch Ferris State in action even when they can’t be at the stadium. A live video and audio webcast is slated to be offered for all 2008 Bulldog home football games via an agreement with B2 Networks. In addition, selected road games at B2 partner schools will also be available. For more information, visit the FSU Athletics Website (www.ferris.edu/sports) and click on the B2 broadcast icon.

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