Ferris State Football Back At Home To Face Lake Erie This Saturday
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This Week: The Ferris State University football team returns home to face the Lake Erie Storm in its 2013 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener this Saturday (Sept. 7) night at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (ET). The first 500 fans will receive free thundersticks and inflatable bounce houses for kids will be part of the gameday atmosphere.
The Opponent: The Storm are coming off a 36-33 non-league setback at home against former league member Gannon last Thursday (Sept. 5) night in Painesville, Ohio. They posted a 3-8 overall record a season ago, which marked the third consecutive campaign in which they finished with the same record since joining the GLIAC.
GLIAC Openers: Saturday's game marks FSU's first league contest of the year. Ferris State is 12-20-1 (.379) in conference openers since 1980 and sports a 6-8-1 (.433) road mark in those outings during that period. The Bulldogs beat Saginaw Valley State 21-17 in their league opener two years ago (9/11/10) at home before falling narrowly to the Cardinals by a 30-27 margin the following season (9/10/11) in University Center, Mich. A year ago (9/8/12), FSU topped Lake Erie by a 49-21 count on the road.
Media Coverage: Saturday's game will be carried live locally by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Rob Bentley handling the play-by-play duties and Sandy Gholston offering color commentary. The contest will also be streamed via a pay-per-view audio/video webcast at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Links for all media coverage will be posted on FSU's official athletics website.
Follow On Twitter: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can also follow Saturday's contest and all other FSU games this year with live scoring updates on several official social media platforms. Visit www.twitter.com/FerrisFootball to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates or visit www.facebook.com/FerrisFootball.
Series History: Ferris State and Lake Erie will meet for the fourth-time ever on Saturday. The Bulldogs pulled out a 22-12 win in 2010 (10/2/10) in the first game at Painesville, Ohio. FSU then recorded a 38-14 triumph in 2011 (10/1/11) in Big Rapids before a 49-21 road win a year ago (9/8/12). LEC posted a 7-4 overall record as a Division II independent in 2009 before joining the GLIAC where they posted identical 3-8 marks their first three seasons. Lake Erie is coming off a 36-33 home setback to Gannon last Thursday (Sept. 5) and is guided by seventh-year head coach Mark McNellie.
The Records: Ferris State is currently 0-1 overall following a 56-10 road setback at two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State last Saturday (Sept. 7) night before a sellout crowd of nearly 19,000 fans at the Fargodome. FSU posted a 7-4 overall mark a season ago and was 6-4 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play in the first season under head coach Tony Annese. The Bulldogs won three of their initial four games and also finished the year by winning three of their last four outings in 2012.
Lake Erie is currently 0-1 overall after a 36-33 non-league home setback to Gannon last Thursday (Sept. 5) in Painesville, Ohio. The Storm were 3-8 overall a season ago and 3-7 in the GLIAC. It marked the third-straight year in which the Storm posted a 3-8 record.
The Coaches: Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 2nd season, 7-5-0 (.583) – (1-0-0 vs. LEC). Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College. His overall career mark is 232-50 (.822) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns.
Lake Erie – Mark McNellie (Baldwin-Wallace, 1988), 7th season, 26-39-0 (.400) - (0-3-0 vs. Ferris State). McNellie became the program's first head coach prior to the 2007 season in which LEC posted a 7-2 mark as a club team. They began varsity action in '08. Previously, he spent 17 years as an assistant at Mercyhurst along with two at Fairmont State (W.Va.). He played collegiately at Baldwin-Wallace.
Under The Lights: Ferris is 43-56-4 (.437) in evening games (after 5 p.m. ET) going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 15-30-2 (.340) on the road and 28-26-2 (.518) at home during that period.
A Year Ago: Ferris State bolted out to an early advantage and cruised past Lake Erie by a 49-21 count in its GLIAC opener last year (9/8/12) at Painesville, Ohio. The Bulldogs rolled up 665 yards of total offense and had seven different players find the endzone in the first league game under head coach Tony Annese. Additionally, FSU had 33 first downs and the top defensive units allowed only seven points over the first three quarters versus the Storm.
Big Offensive Numbers: The Bulldogs' 665 yards of total offense in last year's win over Lake Erie came only four yards shy of matching the school record of 669 yards recorded against rival Grand Valley State in 1998 (11/14). Also, FSU's 33 first downs were just three away from the school record of 36 also set in the '98 contest versus GVSU.
Bulldog Preview: Expectations are high at Ferris State in year two under head coach Tony Annese. The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 overall mark in his debut season last fall (2012) and FSU ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in both rushing offense and total offense.
The Bulldogs recorded several impressive wins under Annese's direction a year ago, including beating archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic for the first time since 1999, snapping a 10-year losing streak to Michigan Tech and topping defending national runner-up Wayne State for the first time in five years. FSU also managed to win seven games for only the second time in the past decade despite facing one of the nation's two toughest schedules in Division II football during the regular-season, according to the Massey Ratings.
Ironically, the Bulldogs' most recent contest prior to last week's outing inside the Fargodome also took place in a domed venue as the Bulldogs concluded the 2012 campaign in memorable fashion by beating Northern Michigan 32-31 last fall (Nov. 10) as Annese's squad went for the win and successfully completed a two-point conversion with nine seconds remaining in regulation rather than electing to kick an extra point to force overtime at the Superior Dome in Marquette.
Besides putting together an impressive debut season with the Bulldogs, Annese and his staff also inked what is considered to be the nation's top incoming recruiting class this winter in Division II football, according to FootballScoop.com.
GLIAC Preseason Poll: The Ferris State University football team was selected to finish third in the 2013 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason North Division Poll, which was released Monday (Aug. 26) in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Football Media Day website. The Bulldogs received 69 points along with one first-place vote in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 15 head coaches. This year marks the third time the league's preseason gridiron poll has been seperated by divisions. In the North Division, Grand Valley State was picked first with 94 points and six first-place votes, Saginaw Valley State was second with 87 points and six first-place votes. Ashland was chosen to win the GLIAC South.
AFCA Division II Poll: The Bulldogs were among eight teams from the conference ranked or listed as receiving votes in the 2013 American Football Coaches Association Preseason Division II Coaches' Poll. Ashland was ranked ninth, Grand Valley State 14th along with Saginaw Valley State University ranked 22nd in the nation. In addition, five other GLIAC teams were listed in the "Others Receiving Votes" category including Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Hillsdale, Ohio Dominican and Wayne State.
The 105th Season: The 2013 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 105th 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 385-434-40 (.471) to date heading into the 2013 campaign.
Top Taggart Field: The Bulldogs own an all-time record of 144-120-8 (.544) at Top Taggart Field heading into their first home game of the year and 273rd contest in the facility. Last season, FSU posted a 2-3 mark on its home surface. More than 900,000 fans (939,829) have watched Bulldog Football in Big Rapids since the stadium debuted in 1957.
Interesting Fact: Ferris holds a 38-45 (.458) all-time record against teams from the state of Ohio in school history. The Bulldogs have played 13 schools from the Buckeye state and have fared the best against those teams now competing in the GLIAC. FSU holds a 11-11 mark versus Findlay and is 9-14 overall against Ashland. The Bulldogs also own four wins (4-6) over Ohio Northern and Tiffin (4-0) while posting there wins against Lake Erie (3-0) and multiple wins versus Cedarville (2-0) and Ohio Dominican (2-0). FSU has topped Walsh, Wilmington and Defiance once each in the program's history. Ferris' worst mark is against Central State, which owns a 7-0 record against the Bulldogs although the two teams have not met '86.
Evening Football: Ferris State's first four contests of the 2013 season and five of the opening six contests will be evening games this campaign. Three of the outings are on the road with two at home. After the opening six-game stretch, the remaining five regular-season games will be afternoon starts at various times.
Ohio Stretch: Saturday's game against Lake Erie is the first of three in a row for the Bulldogs versus Ohio schools out of the GLIAC South Division. FSU swept four Ohio teams in 2010 and beat three of four in the 2011 campaign before topping two of three a year ago. After Lake Erie, FSU visits Ashland and Walsh in back-to-back weeks.
Coming Up Next: Ferris continues GLIAC play next week by visiting defending league champion Ashland next Saturday (Sept. 21) night in Ashland, Ohio. Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) in Ashland, Ohio.
Year Two Under Annese: A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Tony Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the second time this fall. He came to FSU following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level. He owns an overall career head coaching record of 232-50 (.823) after the opening game of the 2013 campaign and was 30-4 (.882) as a junior college head coach at GRCC.
The Environment: Besides facing one of the nation's top collegiate football programs, the Bulldogs also took the field last week in front of one of college football's most passionate fan bases. More than 100,000 fans a year pass through the Fargodome to watch the Bison, ranking North Dakota State in the top 10 nationally for attendance in the Football Championship Subdivision. Known as one of the loudest environments to play in college football, the Fargodome crowd routinely goes over 100 decibels. NDSU's home since 1993 has become of the most difficult places in the country for opponents to play and can pack in 19,000 fans for football games. BleacherReport.com named the Fargodome among its top 50 greatest college stadiums.
The Schedule: Ferris State's 11-game Bulldog football slate in 2013 features five home contests at Top Taggart Field and a 10-game GLIAC schedule. FSU will play its next two home contests versus GLIAC North Division rivals Saginaw Valley State and Grand Valley State in back-to-back weeks (Oct. 5 & 12).
The Returnees: Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are five returning all-conference honorees in quarterback Jason Vander Laan, offensive linemen Carlin Landingham and Adam Bennett, defensive lineman Corey Stone along with wide receiver Jake Lampman. They are among more than 40 letterwinners back from last season's roster.
Coaching Staff: The Bulldog staff this season feature a new defensive coordinator in Lou Esposito, who joined FSU in the spring after serving as the defensive line coach at Western Michigan. He is a former Division II head coach at St. Joseph's (Ind.). The rest of the FSU staff returns basically intact from a year ago. Rob Zeitman, who was a head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School before moving to Ferris State, is the assistant head coach and handles the offensive line. The other full-time assistants include former Bulldog players Ryan Hodges and Sparky McEwen along with ex-Grand Valley State quarterback Ryan Brady, who is FSU's offensive coordinator this fall. Meanwhile, Brad Corpe returns to coach the running backs with Andy Tevlin guiding the defensive line and former longtime prep head coaching legend Jack Schugars working with the special teams.
Former Head Coach: Former Ferris State quarterback Charles "Sparky" McEwen joined head coach Tony Annese's staff last year as an assistant coach and directs the wide receivers. McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards. His son, A.J. McEwen, is a defensive back for the Bulldogs.
Evening Football: Ferris State's first four contests of the 2013 season will be evening games. Three of the outings are on the road. After the opening four-game stretch, the lone remaining evening game for the Bulldogs this campaign will be the Anchor-Bone Classic versus archrival Grand Valley State in Big Rapids on Oct. 12.
Welcome Back: The Bulldogs return 17 starters and more than 40 letterwinners from last season.
Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Tuesday, Aug. 13, as the squad reported to campus for the first time. The first official practice was held Thursday, Aug. 15. 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. 30). Classes at Ferris State University began on Aug. 26.
Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 16 of its last 24 seasons overall. The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.
School Record Rushing: Ferris State well-surpassed the previous school record of 2,538 rushing yards in a season last campaign. The Bulldogs rolled up 3,369 yards on the ground in 11 games a year ago. The previous school record was established in 1995 during FSU's run to the NCAA Division II Semifinals.
Strong Ties: The Bulldogs' projected contributors on this week's two-deep also include at least 12 players who spent time in West Michigan at Grand Rapids Community College under head coach Tony Annese's direction before embarking on their Bulldog careers.
West Michigan: The Bulldogs' two deep lineup and list of potential starters includes 22 student-athletes from communities located in various parts of West Michigan such as Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Zeeland, Muskegon, Rockford, Greenville, Ravenna and more. Nearly 50 percent of FSU's projected starters are West Michigan natives. Besides the ties to West Michigan found among this week's potential two-deep players, the overall Bulldog roster includes more than 60 individuals and over half of the entire FSU squad from portions of West and Northwest Michigan.
Notes From NDSU: Newcomer Dewayne Boston scored the Bulldogs' lone touchdown at North Dakota State in his Ferris State debut. The junior college transfer hauled in a 19-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jason Vander Laan near the end of the first half ….. The Bulldogs ran for 228 yards on the ground against a North Dakota State defense that ranked among the nation's leaders in rushing defense a year ago by allowing less than 100 yards per contest. The week before facing FSU, the Bison allowed less than 50 rushing yards to defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State in a 24-21 win …… The nearly 19,000 fans on hand at the Fargodome is believed to be one of the largest crowds in which the Bulldogs have ever played in front of during school history .... Michigan transfer Marvin Robinson had a team-high 10 tackles and a diving interception at NDSU.
Offensive Statistics: Ferris State's 473.5 yards per game last season ranked as the second-highest seasonal figure in school history. The highest mark of 534.5 yards a contest came in 1999 ...... Ferris State had a school-record 289 first downs last season to top the previous single-season mark of 277 first downs set in 1995 ...... The Bulldogs' 5,209 total yards last season was the third-best mark in school seasonal history.
Conference Record: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan set a new GLIAC single-season record for rushing yardage by a quarterback as a redshirt freshman during the 2012 campaign. The rookie signal caller ran for 1,338 total yards last season with 1,235 coming in 10 league games to establish the record. The league mark for most rushing yards by a QB in conference games ONLY has been 1,128 yards by Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Klopf in 1997. Ironically, Klopf played prep football under FSU's Tony Annese prior to his collegiate career. Vander Laan's totals were also the most ever by a FSU QB in a single-year and placed sixth on the school's seasonal rushing chart and he entered the 2013 season listed 17th on the school's career rushing chart.
Rookie Record: Bulldog QB Jason Vander Laan also set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single-season by any Bulldog freshman a year ago with 1,338 total yards on the ground. Former tailback Derek Fudge owned the previous mark with 1,227 yards during the 2000 campaign.
Statistics Notes: Ferris State senior kicker Austin Kantola is 15th on FSU's all-time list with six made field goals ...... The Bulldogs' A.J. McEwen ranks 11th in school history with 167 career punt return yards .... FSU's Jason Vander Laan is 17th in total passing yardage and 15th in total offense among the Bulldogs' all-time career leaders .... Jake Lampman's 717 receiving yards a year ago was 18th-best all-time in a season at FSU.
Preseason Honors: Junior receiver Jake Lampman and senior tackle Carlin Landingham were both chosen to the 2013 Detroit Free Press Michigan All-Small College Preseason First Team ..... Several Bulldog players were also ranked among the nation's best at their respective positions heading into 2013 according to the D2football.com Preseason Position Rankings compiled by the online source - Jason Vander Laan is listed 16th at quarterback, Jake Lampman is 57th at receiver, Carlin Landingham is 30th at offensive tackle, Adam Bennett was 18th at center (moving to guard this year), Corey Stone is 22nd at defensive tackle and Marvin Robinson came in 35th at safety. All were also chosen as preseason All-GLIAC picks by D2football.com.
Key Roster Note: The Bulldogs have four players currently listed on their roster who attended Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., which has been the nation's number one ranked high school team for several weeks over the last two seasons. The group includes sophomore slot Antonio Agurs along with three true freshmen in receiver Jajuan Pollock, defensive lineman Marquis Dawsey and defensive back Willie Smith.
About Ferris State: Ferris State University is the fastest-growing institution in Michigan with nearly 15,000 students enrolled and is a recognized leader in preparing students for professional careers in 180 degree programs such as Pharmacy, Optometry and more. The university has a rich history that spans more than 125 years and more than 120,000 living alums. FSU is located in Big Rapids, Mich., which is approximately an hour's drive north of Grand Rapids. Ferris State has 17 varsity sports, including NCAA Division I men's ice hockey, which recently reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012. Notable alums in athletics include NHL First-Team All-Star Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins and current University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, who received his coaching start at Ferris State.
Sunny 97.3: Saturday's game continues the broadcast partnership between FSU Athletics and Sunny 97.3 FM. Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston will call the action starting with the "Bulldog Pregame" show at 6:30 p.m. Sunny 97.3 and the Bulldog Sports Network will again carry all home and away football contests this campaign with the broadcasts streamed live online at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Bulldog Sports Network: Fans can follow all the action of Ferris State football live online via the Bulldog Sports Network multimedia portal again this season. A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast will be offered for all home games with free audio for all road contests. The package also includes live stats, live chat and a live blog at select times. Visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more info.
Home Ticket Information: Season and single-game tickets for the 2013 home campaign are currently on sale now. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance this season for a discount over the normal gameday rates. For more info on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
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.FerrisStateBulldogs.com (click on football and then 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 2013 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view as an online publication. The publication features such information as 2013 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2012 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc. Visit the FSU athletics website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com to find the publication online.
More Radio Coverage: Ferris State Football will be featured throughout the year as part of the "Bulldog Sports Update", which will air Monday thru Friday at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM. Additionally, the football team will also be featured at various times on "Ferris State Friday's", which can be heard at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Grand Rapids' WBBL as part of "The Rundown with Doctor & Bentley". The host is hosted by Tim Doctor and former NFL linebacker Ray Bentley. His son, Jake Bentley, is a member of the Bulldog football team.