October 5, 2011

2011 Ashland University Football - Week 6

Ashland (3-2/3-1 GLIAC) at Tiffin (0-5/0-4)

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2:30 p.m.

Frost-Kalnow Stadium, Tiffin, Ohio

 Hear, Here

            This week's Ashland-at-Tiffin game can be heard live on WNCO-AM (1340) with Matt Brubaker handling the play-by-play and Don Graham providing the commentary.  The game can be heard at www.wncoam.com.  

Looking Ahead and Behind

            The Eagles bring a two-game winning streak into this week's game against Tiffin. Last Saturday afternoon in Midland, Mich., the Eagles held off Northwood, 6-3.  AU is listed, "Among Others Receiving Votes," in this week's AFCA national poll.

            Tiffin is still seeking its first victory of the season.  Last Saturday night at Grand Valley State, the Dragons lost, 70-7. 

            The GLIAC South has a red-hot race in progress as the season reaches the midway point.  AU is 3-1 in the conference.  Wayne State and Hillsdale are 4-0. All three of those teams are contenders for a postseason spot.  Wayne State (5-0) is ranked sixth in the nation and Hillsdale (4-1) is ranked 22nd.

The Ashland-Tiffin Series

            This series is in its infancy.  This is the fourth meeting and Ashland leads, 3-0.  AU has never scored less than 34 points against the Dragons. This will be AU's second trip to Tiffin.

            A look at the recent games between the schools can be found below.

            2008 – at Ashland 34, Tiffin 7 – The Eagles rolled up 473 yards of total offense.  On the ground, the Eagles had 254 yards and averaged 5.0 ypc.  Dawon Harvey had 116 yards on 22 carries.  The Eagles intercepted four passes and recovered one Tiffin fumble.  Linebacker Tom Brenner had 12 tackles (six solo), a sack (eight yards), four tackles for loss (29 yards) and an interception.

            2009 – Ashland 41, at Tiffin 14 – The AU offense was at peak efficiency. It was 21-0, Eagles after one quarter and 28-7 Ashland at halftime. AU had 567 yards of total offense.  Slot back D.J. McCoy (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) had 179 yards on 15 carries (11.9 ypc.) and quarterback Billy Cundiff was 14-of-24 for 277 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Christian Livingston had seven receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown.  

            2010 – at Ashland 49,  Tiffin 0 – Once again, the Eagles got off to a quick start against the Dragons. Ashland was in front, 28-0 after one quarter and led, 42-0 at the intermission.  McCoy rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns.  His TD runs came on runs of 8, 8 and 69 yards.    Quarterback Taylor Housewright (Ashland, Ohio) completed 8-of-10 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Joe Horn caught three passes for 112 yards and two scores.  Tiffin turned the ball over three times and was 1-for-10 on third down.

 Ashland's Best Against Tiffin

            Donnie Dottie (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer) – Dottie had a team-high seven tackles (five solo) and recovered a fumble against the Dragons last season. In 2009, he had six tackles (five solo) and a pass breakup.

            Logan Kerr (Ashland, Ohio) – Kerr, AU's senior cornerback, had six tackles (all solo), an interception and two pass breakups in last year's game.  At Tiffin in 2009 he had three tackles and a pass breakup.

            D.J. McCoy (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) – McCoy has been a runaway locomotive against the Dragons. In three career games against Tiffin he has rushed for 384 yards on 38 carries (10.1 ypc.) with four touchdowns.

 About Ashland

            Head coach Lee Owens – Owens is in his eighth season as AU's head coach. His record at Ashland is 52-30.  His career record on the college level is 92-91. Before taking over the AU program, Owens spent nine years as the head coach at the University of Akron. Owens has guided the Eagles to a pair of NCAA playoffs appearances (2007, 2008).  Owens is the only coach to lead AU to the postseason twice and he's the only coach in school history to win a postseason game (27-16 over Minnesota State, 2008).  Owens has won eight or more games in a season at Ashland four times.

            Before coaching on the college level, Owens was a successful high school coach in Ohio. His record on the prep level in 11 seasons is 89-32-2.  He coached four years at storied Massillon Washington High School where he went 35-13.  He won a state championship in 1985 while coaching at Galion (14-0). His record there was 33-11-1 and his 1985 team won the state title with a 6-0 triumph over Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the state championship game.  Owens has never held a coaching job outside of Ohio.

Eye on the Eagles

            Gregg Berkshire (Ashland, Ohio), AU's senior punter-kicker, leads the GLIAC in kick scoring (48 points/9.6 ppg.), field goals (11-of-16/2.2 field goals per game) and extra points (15-of-15, 1.000). He is second in punting (41.7 ypp.) and is third in overall scoring.  Berkshire accounted for all of AU's points in last week's 6-3 triumph at Northwood.  Berkshire is AU's career leader in field goals (51), extra points (133) and points (286).  Last week, Berkshire became the GLIAC career leader in field goals.  Berkshire has 48 field goals in conference play and that breaks the record of 47, established by Saginaw Valley State's Eric Houle (2000-03), who had 48.  Berkshire is tied for third in the nation in field goals per game. He's 15th in punting and tied for 21st in scoring.

            Sophomore linebacker Cody Bloom (Napoleon, Ohio) had a career-high 14 tackles (seven solo) last week. That's the most tackles by an AU player this season. Bloom has a team-leading 45 tackles (26 solo) and is fifth in the GLIAC in tackles per game (9.5)…senior defensive lineman Matt Stoinoff (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) is second on the club in tackles (40/19 solo) and has a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss. Stoinoff is 15th in the conference in tackles per game (8.0) and is tied for second in tackles for loss.  Stoinoff has 25.6 tackles for loss in his career. He should move into AU's top four in that department. Fourth place belongs to Bobby Mercer (27-146).

            One of Stoinoff's mates up front, sophomore Jamie Meder (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge), is fourth on the team in tackles (30/13 solo) and is tied for fifth in the league in tackles for loss (6.0).  Meder had eight tackles (three solo), 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss (seven yards) at Northwood…senior defensive back Tyler Krummel (Akron, Ohio/Hoban) is third on the team in tackles (31/20 solo)…senior defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton (Chicago, Ill./Joliet Junior College) has 27 tackles (11 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss (22 yards) and two sacks (nine yards).

            Jordan McCune (Bellville, Ohio/Clear Fork), AU's freshman tailback, has rushed for over 100 yards each of the last two weeks. At Northwood, McCune had 135 yards on 26 carries.  On the year, McCune has a team-best 531 yards on 105 carries (5.1 ypc.). McCune is fifth in the conference in rushing (106.2 ypg.).  He is tied for fourth in touchdowns (seven), is tied for sixth in scoring (42 points/8.4 ppg.) and is ninth in all-purpose yards per game (108.6).  McCune is 22nd in the country in rushing yards per gameHousewright has completed 70-of-123 passes (56.9 percent) for 674 yards and five touchdowns…junior wide receiver Anthony Capasso (Columbia Station, Ohio/St. Edward) has a team-high 20 receptions for 189 yards (8.9 ypc.). Capasso is fifth in the conference in kickoff return average (22.4 ypr.).

            The Eagles lead the GLIAC in turnover margin (+8/1.60) and are second in pass efficiency defense (113.4) and opponent third down conversion rate (28.2 percent). In this week's NCAA Division II statistics, the Eagles are tied for second in fewest turnovers lost (three). They are fourth in fewest penalties per game (3.8), fifth in fewest in penalty yards per game (31.0), seventh in turnover margin and 15th in opponent third down conversion rate.

Last Look at Last Week

            Ashland played at Northwood last week and NU hosted its annual car show. That's a huge draw in Midland, Mich.  Automobiles of all shapes and sizes were lined up for inspection. It was an impressive collection of firepower.

            There are some that would say that Ashland and Northwood played a fender bender of a football game right next to those classy cars.  This was a physical, defensive struggle. Both defenses knew that a misstep could mean the game and both units gave exceptional performances.  Fans of defensive football got to watch a tense, down-to-the-wire game.  The Eagles emerged with a 6-3 victory in a game that had no touchdowns, seven fumbles and a combined 14 completions and 128 yards passing.

            All of AU's points came off the foot of Berkshire.  The senior had two fourth-quarter field goals. He connected from 24 and 22 yards.  Berkshire's last field goal came with 1:29 left in regulation and put AU ahead, 6-3. No points were scored through three quarters.

            Most of Ashland's offense revolved around McCune, who bulled his way for 135 yards on 26 carries (5.2 ypc.).  The Ashland defense was suffocating.  NU rushed for 111 yards and averaged 2.8 ypc.  On third down, Northwood was 1-of-14.  Northwood had 51 yards passing.  Every time the Eagles needed to make a big play on defense they did it.  On Northwood's final drive, the Timberwolves advanced to the AU 43. On a fourth-and-four play, defensive back Eric Schwieterman (Norwalk, Ohio/St. Paul) intercepted a pass at the AU 26. That finally locked up the game for the Eagles.

Gridiron Club Players of the Week

            Each week, the Ashland University Gridiron Club presents players of the week for offense, defense and special teams. This week's recipients can be found below.

Game              Offense                       Defense                       Special Teams

Bloomsburg     McCune                      Pendleton                    Berkshire

Indianapolis    Housewright               Pendleton                    Berkshire

Hillsdale          Capasso                       Meder                          Soucie

NMU               Vermillion                   Stoinoff                       Stackhouse

Northwood     Knueven                      Meder                          Dottei 

Limiting the Damage

            Last week marked the second time under Owens the Eagles held a team to three points on the road.  Ashland's best defensive efforts on the road, point-wise under Owens, are listed below.

Year                Opponent                   Result

2011                at Northwood             W, 6-3

2005                at Hillsdale                  W, 7-3

2005                at Mercyhurst              W, 45-7

2010                at Findlay                    W, 56-7

            "To hold an opponent to three points in their home stadium, that's an accomplishment," said Owens

            Since the first quarter of the Northern Michigan game, the AU defense hasn't leaked anywhere at any time. This is the way Owens envisioned this unit playing at the start of the season.

            "This team is really starting to find itself defensively," noted Owens.  "I think there are a couple of things. We have Kerr and (Mike) McMillan back at cornerback.  He (McMillan) didn't play much in the Bloomsburg game.  They're (Kerr, McMillan) physical and good coverage guys. That's really helped us. Then, we've gone back to playing defense like we used to, a little more aggressive.  I feel pretty good about where we are, we're kind of locked in defensively."

            Owens describes his secondary at this point as being, "stabilized. In addition to Kerr and McMillan on the corners, he has Schwieterman settled in at safety.  Schwieterman and junior Tyler McFarlin (Ashland, Ohio) give the Eagles a hard-hitting duo on the last line of defense.  McFarlin is questionable this week due to a shoulder injury, but the Eagles have Dottei and Ryan Stackhouse (Ashland, Ohio) ready to go and both have played very well the last two weeks.  Dottei received a game ball last week and Stackhouse got a game ball for the Northern Michigan game.

Fast-Footed Freshmen

            McCune has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last two games.  The rookie has two 100-yard games this season and if he remains healthy, should have the chance to add to that total.

            "He was the difference at the end," said Owens of McCune's game at Northwood.

            McCune is averaging 21 carries per game.  So far, he's shown no wear and tear.

            "He seems pretty fresh," Owens said. "We're trying to share the load with (Anthony) Taylor.  Taylor can help us and Justen White-Reid can help us.  We have some depth there."

            Piling up 100-yard games as a freshman hasn't been a regular occurrence at AU.  In 2007, Jaman Javey had three 100-yard efforts as a freshman. The Eagles went to the NCAA playoffs that year and Javey was sharing the workload in the backfield with Dawon Harvey and Jon Schroeder.  Javey had 864 yards that season.

            In 1999, freshman Paul Bockman split time with J.R. McCoy and had two 100-yard games.  McCoy had one 100-yard game that season. He went on to pile up 3,906 yards at AU. That puts him second in career rushing yards at Ashland, trailing only Keith Weaver (3,943).

March Madness For Kerr

            Kerr has been named to the 2012 BSN Collegiate Showcase watch list.

            The Showcase will take place inside the Stile Athletic Field House at the University of Akron on Mar. 9-10-11.  This event will include approximately 200 athletes from the FCS, NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA levels over the course of the weekend.

            All athletes at the Showcase will participate in combine-style testing, position drills and one-on-one drills. There will be a controlled game (full pads) on the final day of the event.  Every player is guaranteed 20 to 30 snaps.

            Kerr has played in four games this season and has nine tackles.  He missed one game due to injury.

Housewright's Bill of Rights

            Housewright may have only completed seven passes in each of the last two games, but as Owens is quick to point out, it's unfair to judge him by that statistic alone.

            "We're asking a lot of him right now," emphasized the AU head coach.

            This week, Owens praised Housewright's ability to escape pressure and keep plays alive. He's avoided sacks and been a mentor to a young set of running backs and receivers.  Housewright's rushing and passing numbers are down from a year ago, but the junior has earned high marks for his leadership and his ability to remain poised under pressure.  He's been intercepted once this season and hasn't thrown an interception since the opening game at Bloomsburg (Sept. 1). In his career, Housewright has been picked off just 10 times in 398 pass attempts.

            "That's the best thing about what we're doing right now," Owens said.  "A lot of times you start to throw the ball around.  He didn't do that once. He does a great job of taking care of the football.  There are a bunch of things he has to do every down, but No. 1 is to protect the football."

            Owens points out that defenses have adjusted their approach to Housewright. A year ago, he had more room to run. Now teams will set up their defense to prevent him from taking off and gaining chunks of yardage.  Owens talks about how defenses are "throwing a net around him," and that a spy usually shadows Housewright every week. Sometimes, it may appear that Housewright is indecisive.  Owens said that's not the case. Instead, he's being careful and looking for the best way to move the chains.      

Yard Markers and Milestones                                                

  • Last week's victory gives Owens 52 wins at Ashland. That puts him second on the school's list for career victories. The only coach ahead of Owens is Dr. Fred Martinelli (217-119-12).
  • Four of AU's first five games have been decided by seven points or less.  The last time that happened was in 2008 and AU was 3-2 in those games.
  • This is the first of four games AU will play this season against Ohio schools. Last season, Ashland was 4-0 against teams from Ohio and allowed a total of 39 points.
  • In the second half of their last two games the Eagles have allowed six points and 11 first downs.
  • Dating back to last season, AU has scored 30 or more points in 10 of its last 12 games.
  • AU's opening-game opponent, Bloomsburg, is ranked second in this week's AFCA poll with a 5-0 record.

 The GLIAC Chart

            The Eagles are third in all-time winning percentage in GLIAC play. Entering the 2011 season 21 schools have played GLIAC football. These records date back to 1973 and include conference games only. Listed below are the top five schools by winning percentage.

 School                                     Games             W        L         T         Pct.

Grand Valley State                 291                  232      56        3          .797

Butler                                        30                    22        7        1          .750

Ashland                                  209                  124      85        0          .593

Saginaw Valley State              289                  169      117      3          .585

Hillsdale                                  293                  167      125      1          .570

 The Scouting Report

Tiffin

            Head Coach Gary Goff – Goff is in his first season at Tiffin. He came to the Dragons from West Virginia Wesleyan, where he served as the offensive coordinator.  Goff has also served as an offensive assistant at Princeton and New Mexico State. The Tiffin head coach played college football at Valdosta State.

 Taking a Look at Tiffin

            The Dragons' lone game outside the GLIAC came on opening weekend against Malone.  The Dragons lost to the Pioneers, 40-34 in double overtime…the Dragons were 1-10 a year ago…Tiffin's first season in the GLIAC was 2008…in 2007 the Timberwolves were 9-2…the university has sponsored football since 1986…this is Tiffin's second home game of the season.  The Dragons hosted Ferris State on Sept. 24.

Dragons and Demons

            James Capello – TU's 6-0, 201-pound sophomore quarterback has completed 109-of-169 passes (64.5 percent) for 910 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

            Kody David – David, a 6-2, 210-pound sophomore linebacker, has 35 tackles (20 solo).

            Obadiah Dykes – Dykes is a 6-2, 203-pound junior wide receiver who has caught 18 passes for 139 yards (7.7 ypc.).  Dykes has caught three TD passes.

            Michael Gomez – A 6-0, 215-pound sophomore linebacker, Gomez has 30 tackles (15 solo) and 5.0 tackles for loss.

            James Hall – Hall has rushed for a team-high 192 yards on 48 carries (4.0 ypc.). Hall is a 5-9, 185-pound sophomore.

            Mike Virgin – A 6-2, 180-pound junior defensive back, Virgin has 39 tackles (18 solo) and is averaging 7.8 tpg.

Owens on the Dragons

            "We're still trying to get better.  Going on the road and winning, we talked about that last week. As ugly as the win was, we accomplished that.  It's not so much about the Tiffin Dragons, it's about us.

            "They're a blitzing, gambling, man defense. It's kind of what we saw at Northwood. That's what they do every game. What you have to do is know they are going to make a few plays.  You want to hit a couple of home runs. This week, the defense we see, we need to see.  We need to see that blitz, that man defense. We need to be good enough to beat man coverage.

            "They're wide open.  They're spread all over the field, four and five wide receivers."

Up Next

            Ashland is back home next Saturday (Oct. 15, 2 p.m.). The Eagles will host Wayne State.  Next week is homecoming at AU. This will be WSU's first appearance at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field at the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex.

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