Big Rapids, Mich. - The 2011 Ferris State University football team will start preparations for the upcoming season Tuesday, March 29, as the Bulldogs begin their spring practice drills.
Head coach Jeff Pierce and his staff will have the NCAA-allotted total of 15 practices, which will be capped by the annual Crimson and Gold Spring Game on Thursday, April 21, at FSU's Top Taggart Field. Opening kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. (EDT).
"We're excited to take what we've accomplished in the offseason and apply it to the field this spring," said Pierce, who embarks on his 17th year at Ferris State this fall and is the program's all-time winningest coach. "Spring ball is a critical component of our preparation for the 2011 season and gives us an opportunity to build an important foundation.
"Additionally, it will allow us to really evaluate the talent we have at each position and work on our various schemes," he added.
The Bulldogs are expected to return nearly 50 letterwinners for the 2011 campaign, including almost 19 full-time starters with nine on the defensive side of the ball and eight coming back offensively along with two kicking specialists.
FSU will generally conduct spring practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week in April at Top Taggart Field, but may move to the South Campus practice grass fields if weather allows. The spring schedule is subject to change depending on the weather.
Tuesday and Thursday practices are tentatively set to be held from 4:30 p.m. (ET) to 6:45 p.m. (EDT) with Friday practices running at the program's near normal seasonal practice time of 3:30 p.m. (ET).
The Bulldogs are also slated to hold a pair of scrimmages prior to the Crimson & Gold Spring game with the first coming on Saturday, April 9, at 8 a.m. (ET) prior to the Bulldog Track and Invitational the same day at Top Taggart Field. The second scrimmage is set for Saturday, April 16, at 1 p.m. (ET).
Prior to the start of spring drills, the Bulldogs will first wrap up their winter conditioning program by holding the "Bulldog Challenge" Lift-A-Thon event on Friday (March 25) evening at 6 p.m. (ET) inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena. The event is open to the public and is one of the program's primary fundraising initiatives.
2011 Spring Practice Schedule (REVISED):
Practice #1 - Thursday, March 31, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #2 - Friday, April 1, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #3 - Saturday, April 2, 11 a.m.
Practice #4 - Sunday, April 3, 11 a.m.
Practice #5 - Tuesday, April 5, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #6 - Thursday, April 7, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #7 - Friday, April 8, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #8 - Saturday, April 9, 8 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #9 - Tuesday, April 12, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #10 - Thursday, April 14, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #11 - Friday, April 15, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #12 - Saturday, April 16, 1 p.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #13 - Tuesday, April 19, 4:30 p.m.
Practice #14 - Thursday, April 21, 11 a.m.
Practice #15 - Thursday, April 21, 6 p.m. (Annual Crimson and Gold Spring Game)
NOTE -- All Eastern (ET) start times and locations are subject to change.