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  • SRU's Mihalik optimistic about prospects for 2004 season

    As an alumnus, thought I'd pass it along. Sounds like another rough year. Hopefully we can get back to the prominence we had a few years ago.
    ***********
    Rock roster will be filled with youth and enthusiasm

    Dr. George Mihalik begins his 17th season as The Rock's head coach

    July 13, 2004

    Slippery Rock, Pa. - Veteran head coach Dr. George Mihalik, a former championship quarterback at The Rock, displays the same tenacity he exhibited as a player when he charges straight into the line with his expectations for the 2004 Rock football season.

    "We are going to be young," the 17th-year Rock head coach says. "Sixty of the 86 players on this year's roster have never played a college football game because they are either true freshmen or redshirted freshmen.

    "We're not going to use our youthfulness as an excuse, but we also have to be realistic. You can't teach experience, it's something you have to gain.

    "It remains to be seen if we will be ready to play early in the season at the level we will need to in order to be successful. It's a given that we're not going to be as a good of a football team in Week 1 as we will be in Week 11."





    The encouraging part for Mihalik and his staff is the level of talent included in this year's squad.

    "We are very high on our 2003 recruiting class," Mihalik says of a group that includes 10 players who competed in the Pennsylvania East-West all-star game a year ago.

    "You're going to see a lot of those players in key roles this year for Rock Football. They can play the game. And we might find a skilled player or two in our 2004 recruiting class who gets significant playing time this fall.

    "But you can not live on one or two classes. We feel like we have a good mixture of senior leadership, juniors and sophomores who have playing experience that can lead the way for the freshmen, redshirted or true."

    Challenging schedule

    Adding to The Rock's challenge this fall is a schedule that affords little warmup time, but that's become routine procedure for the Green and White.

    The Rock opens its 2004 schedule at home on August 27 with a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference "crossover game" against three-time defending Eastern Division champion Bloomsburg before facing NCAA Division I-AA power Youngstown State and perennial West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contender Shepherd in back-to-back road games.

    The final tuneup for the grueling PSAC-West season will be a home game against Fairmont State on Sept. 18.

    "Obviously, you want to win every game, and enjoying success early in terms of wins and losses would help with our development," Mihalik says. "But I think it's important that, with so many young players on the team, we maintain confidence, play our best each week and then build on that week to week.

    "If we do that, regardless of the outcome of the game, we will make the progress necessary to get back to the level on which we again compete for conference and regional honors.

    "Patience will be an important virtue for us to maintain as our young talent develops," Mihalik stresses.

    Offensive overview

    The return of four starters on the offensive line, including a trio of third-year starters, should provide a Rock-solid foundation upon which Mihalik and offensive coordinator Vic Campagna can build a productive attack.

    The building blocks will come in the form of a returning second-team all-conference running back and a veteran corps of receivers. The only thing from the equation is the cement, a proven quarterback.

    "We don't have a quarterback on our roster who has played a down in college football," Mihalik acknowledges. "That's not an ideal situation. Experience, we have none. Talent, we have an ample supply.

    "When you have this scenario, it's imperative that veterans at other positions step up and take the pressure off the quarterback position. "If those experienced players produce, it will make it much easier for an inexperienced, talented quarterback to flourish," Mihalik adds.

    Counted on to control the line of scrimmage will be third-year starting men in the trenches Don Harbison (6-foot-4, 280 pounds), Pat Oster (6-2, 270) and Noah Richards (6-2, 290) and second-year starter Ryan Travis (6-3, 260).

    Harbison, a junior tackle, earned second-team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division honors a year ago. Oster, a starter at tackle in his first two collegiate seasons, is the heir apparent to graduated All-America selection and three-time all-conference center Bill Ricks.

    Travis, a starting tackle in his first collegiate campaign, will move to from left tackle to right tackle. Redshirted freshman Mike Butterworth (6-7, 335) is expected to step into Travis' former role at left tackle.

    Richards will again man the right guard position.

    Kniess leads the way

    Skilled position-wise, the offensive load will be borne by a group of veterans led by redshirted junior running back Josh Kniess (5-9, 180), a second-team All-PSAC-West selection last year.

    Kniess led The Rock in rushing last fall with 627 yards and five touchdowns.

    The Rock's power running game will be led by senior Valdez Hails (5-10, 225), a proven special teams performer who got valuable playing experience a year ago as a backup running back.

    The development of Hails and the potential of redshirted freshman Larvon Hines (5-10, 180) could result in The Rock using more two-back sets this fall than has been its custom.

    The Rock passing game will feature senior H-back Brandon Richardson (6-3, 245), senior wide receiver Matt Tack (5-9, 160) and redshirted sophomore wideouts John Benca (5-9, 170) and Luke Wetzel (6-3, 200).

    Richardson, a converted tight end, is described by Mihalik as "a difference maker. We have to find ways to get the ball in his hands this fall."

    According to Mihalik, Richardson has the potential to continue the tradition established by players like Greg Hopkins and Ryan McKavish - the only players in Rock history to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

    Richardson was fifth on the team a year ago with 10 receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown.

    Benca was The Rock's leading receiver with 16 receptions for 139 yards a year ago, Wetzel had eight receptions for 165 yards and one TD and Tack finished the 2003 season with 11 receptions for 155 yards.

    Redshirted freshman A.J. Ruperto (6-2, 190), fresh off an impressive showing during spring workouts, enters preseason camp with a slight edge in the search for a starting quarterback. His primary challenger will be classmate Nate Crookshank (5-10, 190), a transfer from perennial Division I-AA national power Georgia Southern.

    "Ruperto made good progress in grasping the offensive reins during spring ball," Mihalik says, "but Nate has an edge in terms of maturity in that he was in a college program a year ago."

    Adding to the competition will be the infusion of a handful of athletic true freshmen quarterbacks. "That should make for an interesting first couple of weeks of preseason camp," Mihalik says. "At the end of those two weeks, it's imperative that we determine which two players will get the bulk of the repetitions at quarterback."

    Rock-solid nose guard

    The strength of The Rock defense figures to be its front wall, anchored by two-time first-team All-PSAC-West nose guard Brian Godfrey.

    Joining Godfrey (6-3, 300) - arguably the top returning defensive performer in the conference - as a returning starter in the front four will be senior classmate Mike Jennings (6-3, 235), who will man the "rush end" position.

    Helping to solidify the front wall of the unit coordinated by Jay Foster will be the shifting of graduate student Jesse Kelley (6-2, 235) from a linebacker spot. He is expected to push redshirted junior Josh Zeisloft (6-2, 220) for a starting nod at defensive end.

    Junior Robert Minnie (6-1, 265) is the favorite to open at defensive tackle. Providing depth will be redshirted senior end Donald Potts (6-1, 225), senior tackle Greg Ames (6-0, 260) and redshirted freshman end Andrew Sharp (6-4, 275).

    Redshirted senior Greg Baker (5-11, 200), the returning starter at "Sam," headlines a talented group of linebackers that also includes senior Justin Poorbaugh (5-11, 215), juniors Jerome Whiting (5-9, 240) and Mark Drango (6-1, 225), sophomore Seth Randall (6-1, 210) and redshirted freshmen Bill Lamb (6-2, 225), Ron Miller (6-0, 220) and Jared Palmer (6-0, 210).

    "We have as much depth at linebacker as we've had there in the last seven or eight years," Mihalik says. "That's a big reason why we didn't hesitate to move Jesse Kelley to defensive end."

    In the secondary, The Rock returns both of its starting safeties, seniors Asaad Allen (free, 5-10, 200) and Kevin Johnston (strong, 5-11, 205). They will be backed up by redshirted sophomore Brandon Rakszawski (6-3, 210), a converted wide receiver, and sophomore Andy Valentine (6-0, 200), who had a promising spring..

    True sophomore Aaron Berarducci (5-9, 175), who started the final five games in 2003, is "the veteran" at cornerback and will be counted on to provide leadership to redshirted freshmen Raymond Campbell (5-11, 185), Willie Murel (5-10, 185) and James Rockymore (5-10, 180).

    "All of our corners are very talented and athletic," Mihalik says, "but they lack experience and, at that position, that can be a big difference in the game. We need those players to step up and play well, and we have confidence they will do just that."

    Special teams

    Mihalik minces no words when he analyzes his special teams' effort of a year ago.

    "Our special teams effort hurt us more than it ever has last year," he says. "We have to get a better effort this year."

    In that light, The Rock has a sizeable void to fill as it seeks to replace first-team All-PSAC-West place kicker John Katsaouni, the leading scorer on the team a year ago. The effort will be eased, though, by the return of sophomore punter Ray Rotell (5-11, 215).

    Redshirted freshman kicking specialist Ryan Daniel (6-1, 185) showed in spring workouts that he has the leg strength and ability to be a good kicker and only needs to carry those performances over to game situations, Mihalik says.

    Rotell had "a typical freshman season," Mihalik says, "in that he was inconsistent. We look for him to settle in and provide a strong punting game for us this fall."

    The Rock return game will feature Kniess (2 punt return TDs a year ago), Rockymore and Tack, along with redshirted freshman wide receiver Lamarr Jackson (5-11, 170).

    "We had three touchdowns on punt returns last year, but we will be better in the return game than we were a year ago," Mihalik says. We have to be if we are going to be a conference contender.

    Competitive conference

    "The margin between teams in the Western Conference continues to shrink year by year," Mihalik says. "I can honestly see five legitimate contenders for this year's division title.

    "On paper, people will say Slippery Rock is not one of those five teams, but we had a lot of surprises during the 2003 season and I think there could be just as many, if not more, in 2004."

    Make no mistake about it, one season after seeing its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-best string of winning seasons snapped at 12, The Rock enters the 2004 season with a renewed hunger and drive.

    "We definitely want to get back on the winning side of the ledger, and we will build on that determination to improve as a team throughout the year while we gain experience and confidence."

    Frustrating 2003 campaign

    So close, yet so far.

    Four losses by a combined margin of 10 points, the ultimate difference between a 13th successive winning season and a 4-7 final record.

    "Last year was a long one," Mihalik says. "It was frustrating to see us keep finding ways to lose games in the final three minutes and not making big plays when we had the opportunity do so."

    Adding to the frustration, according to Mihalik, was the fact that Rock coaches and players were not used to losing, "so we got outside our comfort zone early in the season."

    Preparing for multiple night games, a unique experience for The Rock, was another factor that contributed to the absence of a comfort zone. "It's an entirely different routine you have to go through for night games as opposed to day games," he says.

    "That's not a reason we lost more games than we were accustomed to, but having been through that new experience of night and day games, we will be better prepared to handle those differences in preparation this year.

    The Rock will again play five night games this fall.

    "I think one of the valuable lessons we learned last year was that you need to stay the course and maintain the work ethic and approach to things it takes to win week in and week out, year in and year out," Mihalik summarizes.

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  • DJRamFan
    Suny Brockport 2004 Football Season Preview
    by DJRamFan
    As a Brockport grad student, I thought I'd pass this along to all of you :redface:

    Featuring comments from Coach Rocco Salomone

    A “new tradition” awaits the 2004 SUNY Brockport football team, if you will. A tradition will be built beginning this season when the Golden Eagles begin play in the Atlantic Central Football Conference. Yet, the “old tradition” is something to be quite proud of. Brockport is one of only five teams in the country that enters this fall looking to make the NCAA Division III playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Golden Eagles are tied for 11th with 36 victories since the start of the 2000 season, and 12th in winning percentage (.818) in the new century among Division III schools.
    The schedule not only features the new ACFC rivals, but also teams that have many NCAA post-season trips of their own. Brockport hosts Rowan, a team that has become a rival due to recent memorable playoff meetings. The College of New Jersey and Ithaca also have post-season histories, and local rival St. John Fisher provides a tough Homecoming test at Special Olympics Stadium.
    Led by a veteran cast that features nine returning starters on offense and seven on the defensive side, Brockport is poised for another run towards the tournament this fall.

    DEFENSE
    For the last 10 to 15 years, the defense has been a strength for the program. The consistently strong play of the defensive unit has made impressions in the trenchs and on the national leader board as well. Brockport, which has consistently been ranked in national Division III rankings in scoring defense and total defense in recent years, was in the top 17 in both categories last year.
    “I think the bar has been set pretty high for us,” said Salomone. “As long as we can keep our guys playing with enthusiasm and with pursuit of the ball, I think we can continue to have a strong defensive unit.”

    DEFENSIVE LINE
    Many players who started as well as others who saw significant time provide the Golden Eagles with a unit that can continue the success of defenses in the past. Ryan Bierley, who was a 2002 All-American, returns after a year off and returns up front. Last season did not feature a senior defensive lineman, so the newcomers and fresh faces of a year ago have a year under their belt. Matt Gates posted 36 tackles and 11 tackles for losses, including eight stops against The College of New Jersey in the big regular season finale must-win contest. Drew Smith had 17 tackles and returns as a front line starter. Watch for Anthony W. Mariani, Nathan Raggi and Adam Collister to also provide their experience and talent to the front line this fall.
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    -08-10-2004, 10:30 AM
  • RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    by RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    Hawkeyes too good to hoodwink nation once again
    Posted: Wednesday August 3, 2005 10:26AM; Updated: Wednesday August 3, 2005 12:40PM

    CHICAGO -- For three straight seasons, the Iowa Hawkeyes have won at least 10 games and finished in the top 10 of the final polls, each time after the preseason pollsters declared, in a nutshell, "There's no way can they do it again."

    No more.

    Various preview magazines and Web sites (including this one), apparently tired of being duped, have definitively declared the 2005 Hawkeyes to be a preseason top 10 team, in many cases ranking them ahead of Big Ten stalwarts Ohio State and/or Michigan (against whom Iowa has gone 3-2 and shared two of the past three league titles). Hawkeyes receiver Ed Hinkel is a tad perplexed about the timing of such predictions. "If anything, we should probably be lower than we have been in the past," the fifth-year senior said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. "I don't think we're as far ahead now as we've been in the past."

    Nice try, Ed, but you're not going to be pulling another fast one on us this year. Four new starters on the defensive line, two of whom have to replace All-Americans Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux? No proven running back? Injuries and inexperience at safety? Boo hoo. After watching Iowa go 10-2 last season despite losing two of its first four games, including an embarrassing 44-7 blowout at Arizona State, and despite losing a staggering four running backs to season-ending injuries and finishing 116th (out of 117) in the country in rushing offense, it's clear by now that no hurdle is too great for a Kirk Ferentz-coached team to overcome.

    In fact, each of the past three years has followed virtually the same script in Iowa City. Following a breakthrough, 11-2 season in 2002, the Hawkeyes had to replace Heisman runner-up quarterback Brad Banks, All-America tight end Dallas Clark and four starters off a powerful offensive line. What did they do in 2003? Go conservative on offense, make big plays on defense and special teams and beat Florida in the Outback Bowl to complete a 10-3 season.

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    -08-10-2005, 06:49 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Iowa State coach certain Cyclones will be contenders
    by DJRamFan
    By Daniel Berk University Daily Kansan
    Lawrence, KS (U-WIRE) -- Iowa State was the surprise of the Big 12 Conference last year, taking advantage of a weak division to earn a piece of the Big 12 North crown.

    Last season, the Cyclones were picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. They hadn't captured a football trophy since 1912.

    This season, Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said he was hopeful the Cyclones would continue to improve and contend for the Big 12 Championship again.

    "We have rewritten the history books at Iowa State," McCarney said. "We have done things the school and program has never done in football, and yet we have lots and lots of room to improve. I am proud of what we have done."

    Iowa State finished the season winning five of its last six games, including a victory against Miami of Ohio in the Independence Bowl. The only game the Cyclones dropped during that stretch was a 17-14 match against the Missouri Tigers in the final regular season game of the year.

    A victory in that game would have given the Cyclones sole possession of the Big 12 North division, and would have sent them into the Big 12 Championship game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

    Leading the charge for the Cyclones this season will be sophomore quarterback Bret Meyer. Meyer started all 12 games for Iowa State last season, and accumulated 122 rushing yards in the Independence Bowl.

    McCarney said in order for the Cyclones to have another successful season, Meyer would have to continue to improve.

    "There is a tremendous upside to Bret Meyer," McCarney said. "It is just a matter of improving, doing the little things right, and picking up where he left off last year."

    Meyer will be joined in the backfield by junior running back Stevie Hicks. Hicks ran for more than 1,000 yards last season and will take the pressure off Meyer on offense.





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    Another stand-out on defense will be senior defensive tackle Nick Leaders. Leaders is a four-year starter who coaches named second-team All-Big 12. Last season, Leaders racked up 50 tackles and led...
    -08-29-2005, 06:11 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Cardinal Opens Pac-10 Play vs. Oregon
    by DJRamFan
    Stanford returns to action after a bye last week

    Sept. 25, 2005


    Complete Release in PDF Format
    Download Free Acrobat Reader


    GAME INFORMATION

    Date: October 1, 2005

    Kickoff: 2:00 pm

    Site: Stanford, CA

    Television: No live television

    Radio: KNEW, 910 am (Tim Roye, Bob Murphy)

    Campus Radio: KZSU, 90.1 fm

    Internet: www.gostanford.com (live audio, live stats)

    The Series: Stanford leads series 43-24-1

    Last Meeting: Oregon 16, Stanford 13, at Stanford, 11/23/04

    Series Notes: Oregon has won last three meetings

    ••••••••••••••••••••

    Cardinal Opens Pac-10 Play at Home Against Oregon

    Stanford (1-1) opens the Pacific-10 Conference season on Saturday, October 1 with a home date against Oregon (3-1, 0-1) ... The Cardinal is coming off a bye week after opening the season with a road win at Navy and a home loss to UC Davis ... Stanford will play eight consecutive conference games and the season finale vs. Notre Dame ... The Ducks got off to a 3-0 start and were ranked No. 25 in the nation before losing last Saturday to top-ranked USC, 45-13 ... The Ducks led early 13-0 before the Trojans scored 45 unanswered points ... ...Oregon won its three non-conference games against Houston, Montana and Fresno State while averaging over 40 points scored in those games ... The Ducks have won the last three meetings with Stanford, including a 16-13 win at Stanford Stadium last season.

    Stanford to Honor Hall of Fame Class of 2005

    Stanford's Hall of Fame Class of 2005 will be honored at halftime on Saturday's game against Oregon ... The group of seven individuals and an Olympic Crew will be formally inducted in the Hall of Fame on Friday, September 30 ... The Class includes men's basketball coach Mike Montgomery, currently the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, women's tennis All-American and NCAA champion Sandra Birch, All-American and U.S. Olympic water polo player Doug Burke, football All-American Ed Cummings, baseball All-American Eric Hardgrave, All-American, Olympian and NCAA swimmer Janel Jorgensen, Chuck Evans, one of the school's all-time great football players, and a group of Olympic rowers that includes Conn Findlay, Kurt Seiffert, Kent Mitchell and Ed Ferry.





    Remaining Schedule Includes Five Ranked Teams

    Stanford's remaining schedule includes five teams currently ranked among the nation's top-25 who have combined for a 16-2 record to date ... The Cardinal's final nine opponents have an aggregate record of 25-8 and a winning percentage of .758 ... Among Stanford's future opponents are No. 1 ranked USC (3-0), No. 11 Cal (4-0), No. 14 Notre Dame (3-1), No. 15 Arizona State (3-1) and No. 20 UCLA...
    -09-25-2005, 05:11 PM
  • DJRamFan
    ARIZONA STATE Team Report
    by DJRamFan
    By The Sports Xchange
    8/31/2005


    INSIDE SLANT

    The Sun Devils find themselves in the top 25 polls and with thoughts of even a higher finish.

    Even a national championship? The fans, of course, think that is a possibility with most of the team's offensive weapons returning from a 9-3 season and the heart of the defense.

    "I'm awesome with that (national title talk)," quarterback Sam Keller told The Arizona Republic. "I have those expectations, too."

    The Sun Devils can't get too ahead of themselves, but it might be easy to overlook season opening opponent Temple for a much more high profile game against LSU on Sept. 10.

    A couple of recent poor practices has ASU Dirk Koetter already trying to put everything in perspective.

    "If we don't get our heads out of our (butts) we're going to be 0-1," Koetter said. "We're very sluggish, our execution is not good enough, our concentration is not good enough. We don't know what we're doing half the time."

    Could just be coach talk, as well. The Sun Devils have finished the fall workouts with a solid quarterback with Sam Keller, and even a few possibilities at tailback, the No. 1 concern heading into the regular season.

    Getting Rudy Burgess and true freshman Keegan Herring going has given the Sun Devils even more optimism.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: ASU finished with a NCAA low six rushing touchdowns last year. Obviously, correcting that is the top priority despite the Sun Devils being minus their career record holding quarterback Andrew Walter. Sam Keller has emerged as a legitimate signal caller. Who's going to run the ball? Rudy Burgess was a receiver this time a year. He is now the full time tailback. After rushing for 186 yards against Stanford he has shown a glimpse of what he can do. He must now do it for 11 games.

    SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Pass rushing defensive linemen Jordan Hill and Kyle Caldwell, along with linebacker Dale Robinson give the Sun Devils a presence behind the line of scrimmage. The ASU defense started out great last year, but tailed off some. The second year in the 4-3 alignment should make up for any lapses. Robinson is especially a key after making 93 tackles, and a team-high 13 tackles for loss. Watch out quarterbacks.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't exactly pin point exactly what it is, but it's exciting. I think we're going to do a lot of great things this year." -- ASU quarterback Sam Keller.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    THIS WEEK'S GAME: Temple at Arizona State, Sept. 1 -- The Sun Devils are looking for another good start after winning their first five games of the 2004 season.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Sam Keller -- The sophomore only has one start in his two-year career, but it showed what he could...
    -08-31-2005, 06:32 PM
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