September 24, 2007

Football Hits Road For Third Straight Week

Sept. 24, 2007

Weekly Release #5: At Cal Poly
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Game #5

Northern Colorado (0-4) at Cal Poly (2-2)

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007 • 6:05 p.m. PDT/7:05 p.m. MDT

Alex G. Spanos Stadium (11,750) • San Luis Obispo, Calif.


Series Record: Cal Poly, 5-2

Last Meeting: October 1, 2005; CPU 31-14


        Northern Colorado: Scott Downing (Sterling College, 1979)

                Record at Northern Colorado: 1-14 (2nd Year)

                Career Record: 14-18-1 (4th Year)

                Record vs Cal Poly: 0-0

        Cal Poly: Rich Ellerson (Hawai'i, 1977)

                Record at Cal Poly: 43-29 (7th Year)

                Career Record: 47-36 (8th Year)

                Record vs Northern Colorado: 2-0


Northern Colorado Radio Network:

        Troy Coverdale, play-by-play

                Chris Ott, color analyst


Last Non-Conference

     Northern Colorado looks to snap a 12-game losing streak, facing its final non-conference opponent of the year in Cal Poly on Saturday (video streaming available at The Mustangs are 1-0 against the Big Sky Conference this season, posting a 47-19 victory over Weber State on Sept. 15. This will be the third of four straight road games for the Bears, as next week the team takes on Idaho State in Pocatello at 1:35.

     Both Cal Poly and Northern Colorado were members of the Great West Football Conference in 2004 and 2005, with the Mustangs winning both meetings between the squads.


Series Record

     This will be the eighth meeting between Northern Colorado and Cal Poly. The Bears are 2-5 all-time against the Mustangs and posted an 0-2 mark when both were members of the Great West Football Conference. In San Luis Obispo, the Bears are 1-3 with the lone win coming on Oct. 16, 1982, a 14-13 victory. Three of the seven games have been decided by less than a touchdown, with two being one-point decisions.


     2005:   Greeley                     L, 14-31                     1979:        San Luis Obispo         L, 3-17     

     2004:   San Luis Obispo         L, 0-31                      1978:        Greeley                     W, 15-10

     1982:   San Luis Obispo         W, 14-13                   1977:        San Luis Obispo         L, 20-29

     1980:   Greeley                     L, 16-17


The Northern Colorado Connection

     For the first time this season, there are no players on the Cal Poly roster that went to school with any member of the Northern Colorado roster, nor are there any coaches that have spent time at the same institutions as any NC coach.


2007 Cal Poly Schedule

Sept. 1      at Texas State                               L, 35-38

Sept. 8      at Idaho                                        L, 13-20

Sept. 15    WEBER STATE                          W, 47-19

Sept. 22    WESTERN OREGON                 W, 24-17

Sept. 29    NORTHERN COLORADO         6:05 p.m.

Oct. 13      *at UC Davis                              1:30 p.m.

Oct. 20      *at South Dakota State                  5:00 p.m.

Oct. 27      at Idaho State                              2:05 p.m.

Nov. 3      *at Southern Utah                              Noon

Nov. 10    *NORTH DAKOTA STATE          4:05 p.m.

Nov. 17    IONA COLLEGE                       1:05 p.m.

*Indicates Great West Football Conference Game


Five And Twenty

     Against Northern Arizona on Saturday, five different receivers caught passes for 20 or more yards. Junior tight end Ryan Chesla caught four passes for 60 yards and a long of 34 yards, while junior wide receiver Cory Fauver caught three for 41 yards and a long of 20. Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel snagged three passes for 37 yards and a long of 22, while junior running back David Woods caught two for 47 yards and a long of 28. Senior tight end Clint Wright also caught two passes for 26 yards with a touchdown and a long reception of 23 yards. Last season, the Bears never had more than three players catch a pass for 20 or more yards in the same game, in fact, the last time NC had five players with receptions or 20 or more came back on Oct. 18, 2003 at Florida Atlantic, a 21-19 loss.


Slow But Steady

     The Bears offensive production has seen improvement during each of the first four games in the first quarter. Against Hawai'i, NC had 15 yards of offense, while they tallied 35 against Chadron State, 121 at San Diego and 132 in the Big Sky opener against Northern Arizona on Saturday.


It Might Not Show On The Board

     Last year through four games, the Bears were 1-3, while this season they are 0-4, but a better team in most areas. Below is a chart of last season's statistics through four games compared with this year's numbers.


                                                2007                 2006                 Change

First Downs                               61                     60                     +1

Points Per Game                        8.2                    13.0                  -4.8

Rushing Yardage                        362                   348                   +14

Total Offense                              1055                 1050                 +5

Interception Returns                     4-57                  1-0                    +3-57

Opponent Int Ret.                        3-31                  6-98                  +3-67

Kick Return Avg.                        20.5                  17.3                  +3.2

Opp. Punt Ret. Avg.                   13.5                  18.0                  +4.5

Opp. Fumbles                            10                     5                      +5

Avg. Per Punt                            40.9                  34.1                  +6.8

Opp. Third Down Conv.              36%                 44%                 +8%

Sacks                                       3                      3                      Even

Opponent Sacks                         9                      10                     +1

Red-Zone TD                              45%                 44%                 +1%

Opp. Red  Zone TD                     65%                 68%                 +3%


Frequent Flier Miles

     The Bears are playing their fourth road game in five weeks and when they return home on Sunday, will have amassed 11,376 miles already this season. The season opener to Honolulu was 3,358 miles, while it was 869 to San Diego, 523 to Flagstaff and will be another 938 this week to San Luis Obispo. Next week's trip seems short in comparison, as it is just 434 miles to Pocatello, Idaho.


Strength Of The Defense

     If you asked anyone prior to the start of the 2007 season what the strength of the Northern Colorado defense would be, most people would have stated the linebacker corp. On Saturday against Northern Arizona, for the third time since head coach Scott Downing took over, two linebackers recorded more than 10 tackles in the game, as junior Cristian Sarmento led the team with 13 and junior Joe Kenney tallied 11. Sarmento currently leads the team with 36 tackles on the year, while Kenney is tied for second with senior DB D.J. Craft at 26.


Injury Update

     Several key players were injured in the Northern Arizona game and are questionable for the game against Cal Poly. John Eddy suffered a right ankle injury, while Korey Askew injured his left leg and Quincy Wofford his right leg.


First Catches

     Both junior Brian Barmann, sophomore Tyrone Wilson and freshman Ryan Kemp recorded their first catches of the season against Northern Arizona, bringing the total to 14 different players who have caught a pass in a game this year for the Bears. Senior Andy Birkel leads the team with 19 catches, while both Cory Fauver and Ryan Chesla have caught 14 passes.


New Look Bears

     When freshman defensive tackles Amal Gumbs and Dominique Ceja started against Northern Arizona on Saturday, they became the 14th and 15th different players to make their first career start this season. At San Diego, both junior wide receiver Cory Fauver and freshman running back Dan Freismuth made their first starts, while DT Martin Awatchie, TE Andrew Emmerling, WR Jeff Vaden and QB Mike Vlahogeorge started for the first time against Chadron State and WR Jason Caprioli, OL Eric Christensen, DE John Eddy, DE Joe Silipo, CB Quincy Wofford, RB David Woods and OL James Zapp all started against Hawai'i.


I'd Like To Return This Please

     For the last two seasons, head coach Scott Downing has saw something in his defensive players he likes for the return game. In 2006, Derek Gainey returned 16 of the team's 39 kickoffs for 312 yards (19.5 per return) and Aaron Henderson returned 10 of the team's 12 punt returns for 42 yards. This year, Eric Brown has eight of the team's 22 returns for 207 yards (25.9 per return) in the last three games and ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference with his 25.9 per return average.


Defensive Catches

     Junior defensive end Mark Rodden, who spent his first two seasons with the Bears on the offensive line, notched the longest interception return of the year, picking off San Diego for 25 yards. NC has four interceptions in four games, as senior defensive back D.J. Craft has a 24-yard interception return against Chadron State and both freshmen C.J. Stemo and Max Hewitt picked off passes against Hawai'i.


Big Stops

     Northern Colorado ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference in opponent third-down conversions, allowing the opponent to convert on just 35.8 percent of its attempts on third downs (19-of-53). Montana, Weber State and Northern Arizona rank first through third, respectively in the league.


By The Numbers

     Junior linebacker Joe Kenney recorded the 150th tackle of his career at Northern Arizona and now has 152... Junior quarterback Mike Vlahogeorge is just 33 yards shy of passing for 500 in his first season with the Bears... Senior punter Rafael Mendoza has punted for 1,226 yards this season, bringing his career total to 5,837 yards just 163 yards shy of 6,000.


Breaking Out

     Redshirt freshman Joe Silipo had a breakout game against the San Diego Toreros, recording a career-high six tackles which included a sack for a four-yard loss and a forced fumble on the same play. He also tallied 2.5 tackles for a loss of 13 yards in the game.


Double Trouble

     For the third time since head coach Scott Downing took over the reins, two players recorded over 100 all-purpose yards in the same game as junior running back David Woods tallied 180 and senior wide receiver Andy Birkel had 101.


Thank You Fans

     Northern Colorado had 6,684 fans in attendance at the season home opener against Chadron State. It is the third-best attended home opener at a Big Sky stadium this season (23,599 - Montana vs Southern Utah; 12,022 - Portland State vs UC Davis) and bests the stadiums all-time average attendance of 5,202.


All New Conference Call

     For the first time in Big Sky Conference history, the league will sponsor a weekly conference call with the nine head coaches. The call will take place on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon (Mountain) beginning Sept. 5. Northern Colorado head coach Scott Downing will fill the fifth time slot from 10:02 to 10:10.


10:30-10:38                John Zamberlin, Idaho State         11:10-11:18                Jerome Souers, Northern Arizona

10:38-10:46                Bobby Hauck, Montana              11:18-11:26                Paul Wulff, Eastern Washington

10:46-10:54                Ron McBride, Weber State          11:26-11:34                Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento St.

10:54-11:02                Rob Ash, Montana State              11:34-11:42                Jerry Glanville, Portland State

11:02-11:10                Scott Downing, No. Colorado  11:42-noon (if needed) Commissioner Fullerton


Ahoy, Captain

     In a vote by the players, Northern Colorado named three defensive players and one offensive player as their captains for 2007. Senior defensive back Aaron Henderson, junior linebacker Joe Kenney and senior nose guard Vinny Pallone represent the defense, while senior center Jake Gable represents the offense.


Colorado's Team

     There are 90 players on the 2007 roster and 70 of them attended high school in Colorado. California and Oklahoma both have four players representing those states for the next most on the roster. There are also two players each hailing from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.


Now Eligible

     The Northern Colorado football team is now eligible to compete in postseason play in 2007 after successfully making the transition to Division I. This year marks the first year the Bears are also eligible to win the Big Sky Conference Championship, though the Bears are looking to start with the first win over a Big Sky opponent.


Fountain Of Youth

     The Northern Colorado roster, which consists of 90 players, has 63 players that are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores on it. There are 11 seniors on the roster, eight of which have been with the team throughout their entire careers.

                                True Freshmen:          25

                                Redshirt Freshmen:     19

                                Sophomores:             19

                                Juniors:                     16

                                Seniors:                    11


All In The Family

     The Bears sport two pair of brothers currently on the roster in Matt (Fr-LB) and Mike (Jr-QB) Vlahogeorge, and Justin (So-RB) and Korey (So-DB) Askew but there are several other members of the team who had brothers on previous year's teams. Senior linebacker Asa Matthew's brother Adam played for the Bears from 1999-2003, while senior nose guard Vinny Pallone's brother Dominic played for the Bears from 1996-00.