October 22, 2007

Football Prepares For No. 19 Montana State

Oct. 22, 2007

Weekly Game Notes: Game #9 vs #19 Montana State
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Game #9 Information

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kickoff: 12:05 p.m. MT

Location: Greeley, Colo.

Stadium: Nottingham Field

Capacity: 8,500

Series: Montana State leads, 13-9-1

Last Meeting: November 4, 2006; MSU 13-10

Promotions: Perkins Family Zone Tickets


Radio: Northern Colorado Radio Network

     Greeley: 1310 KFKA

     Troy Coverdale, play-by-play

     Chris Ott, color analyst

Internet Video Streaming: bigskytv.org

TV: MaxMedia, Bozeman

Three Of Four

     Northern Colorado finishes the season with three of the final four games at home, beginning with 19th-ranked Montana State on Saturday. The Bobcats come to Nottingham Field sporting a 5-2 record, including a 3-1 mark in Big Sky Conference play and won last week against Sacramento State. The Bears were defeated 52-7 at the hands of #3 Montana last weekend and are looking for their first win of the season. Next week, NC hits the road for the final time playing at Eastern Washington before hosting Sacramento State and Portland State in the last two games of the year.

Series Record

     Saturday will mark the 24th meeting between Montana State and Northern Colorado with the Bobcats holding the slight 13-9-1 advantage in the all-time series. Last year's game went down to the wire, with MSU escaping 13-10 in Bozeman. The Bears tallied 309 yards of total offense, compared to 294 for Montana State. The Bobcats took the early 10- lead, but the Bears scored a touchdown with 3:07 left in the fourth quarter to close within three, 13-10, but were not able to get the ball back as time expired. The series is tied at five games each in Greeley and MSU leads 8-4-1 in Bozeman.

     2006:   Bozeman   L, 10-13             1950:   Bozeman   L, 7-18              1936:   Bozeman   W, 13-0

     2003:   Bozeman   W, 14-10           1947:   Greeley     L, 13-32             1935:   Greeley     W, 6-0

     1956:   Greeley     L, 0-13              1946:   Bozeman   L, 7-27              1934:   Bozeman   W, 19-0

     1955:   Bozeman   L, 7-29              1941:   Greeley     W, 7-6               1928:   Bozeman   L, 2-6

     1954:   Greeley     L, 7-26              1940:   Bozeman   L, 0-7                1926:   Bozeman   L, 6-9

     1953:   Bozeman   L, 0-26              1939:   Greeley     W, 12-3             1924:   Bozeman   L, 0-59

     1952:   Greeley     W, 47-0             1938:   Bozeman   T, 0-0                1923:   Greeley     L, 12-49

     1951:   Bozeman   W, 24-13           1937:   Greeley     W, 33-26

This Date In History

     Back in 2001, the last time the Bears played on October 27, Northern Colorado defeated current FCS second-ranked North Dakota State 17-13 at Nottingham Field. The Bears were down 13-7 midway through the third quarter and rallied to score 10 unanswered points for the win.

The Northern Colorado Connection

     Montana State has three players on its travel roster that will be returning to their home state this weekend. Redshirt freshman Blayde Becksted prepped at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, the same high school where starting offensive lineman Chris Jones spent his high school days. Montana State sophomore Ryan Cerise played alongside freshman Chuks Nweke at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs and MSU freshman Michael Sweeney played at Grand Junction High School. There are no current Bears from any of the four high schools in the Grand Junction area. Montana State defensive line coach Bo Beck also hails from nearby Fort Collins, where he attended Colorado State and coached at Fort Collins HS from 1994-01, the same high school of current Bear Martin Awachie.

2007 Montana State Schedule

Sep. 1       at Texas A&M                                L, 7-38

Sep. 15     DIXIE STATE                               W, 61-7

Sep. 22     *at Weber State                              W, 21-5

Sep. 29     *IDAHO STATE                          W, 40-20

Oct. 6       SOUTHERN UTAH                       W, 7-3

Oct. 13      *at Eastern Washington                   L, 13-35

Oct. 20      *SACRAMENTO STATE              W, 20-9

Oct. 27      *at Northern Colorado                 12:05 p.m.

Nov. 3      *NORTHERN ARIZONA           12:05 p.m.

Nov. 10    *at Portland State                         2:30 p.m.

Nov. 17    *MONTANA                             12:35 p.m.

*Indicates Big Sky Conference Game

Sarmento's Big Day

     Junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento again tallied a career-high in tackles, this time with 17 at #3 Montana. His 17 tackles is the most by a Bear since Reed Doughty recorded 18 against South Dakota State in 2005 and ties for the most in the Big Sky Conference this season (Jordan Senn, Portland State at San Diego State). Sarmento has now been in double figures in tackles in the last five games, the longest streak since Doughty started 2005 with six consecutive games with 10 or more stops. In conference games only, Sarmento leads the Big Sky with 13.2 tackles per game, one full tackle ahead of Bobby Daly from Montana State and almost seven tackles per game ahead of Montana's Kroy Biermann, who are both listed as Buchanan Award Candidates, given to the best defensive player at the FCS level. Against all opponents, Sarmento is also tied for 17th in the nation at 10.5 tackles per game.

The Future's So Bright

     True freshman defensive back Max Hewitt recorded his third interception of the season and the second in as many games against #3 Montana and returned it 73 yards to the eight-yard line. His return is the sixth longest in school history and the longest non-scoring interception return ever at Northern Colorado. Hewitt now has three interceptions for 93 yards on the season to rank seventh in the Big Sky with 0.38 interceptions per game. His 73 yard return is also the third longest in the league this year, his 93 total return yards also ranks third and his three picks ties for the second most (6, K.J. Gerard, Northern Arizona).

The Wright Way

     Senior tight end Clint Wright scored the only touchdown of the day for Northern Colorado at #3 Montana. It is his second touchdown reception this season, the third of his career and the longest catch for the senior, as he went for 31 yards. All three of Wright's touchdowns have come from different quarterbacks, as his first touchdown in 2005 came from Nick Hager, and he has one catch each from junior Mike Vlahogeorge and senior Dominic Breazeale this season.

Moving On Up

     Junior Eric Brown vaulted all the way from 10th to fifth on the Northern Colorado single-season kickoff return yardage list. He now has 501 kickoff return yards this season, needing 99 yards to move into sole possession of third on the list. The single season record for kickoff return yardage is 663 by Johnny Watkines in 1984. Brown's 20.0 yards per return average ranks him seventh in the Big Sky Conference, while junior David Woods ranks ninth on the same list averaging 19.1 per return. Brown is also now just 53 yards shy of appearing on the school's career kickoff return yards chart (10th, 554, Cedric Tillman, 1986-89).

Youth Movement

     Of the 51 players that saw time in the game on Saturday at Montana, 28 are either freshmen, sophomores or first year juniors for the Bears. All six true freshmen that are on the travel roster saw extended action in the game in Dan Freismuth, Amal Gumbs, Max Hewitt, Josh Mack, Colby Riggins and Brandon Smith. There were also 10 redshirt freshmen that played in the contest.

Through The Uprights

     Northern Colorado is tied with Georgetown for the fewest field goals attempted by a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team this season. Both teams have attempted just three field goals this year, but the Hoyas have made all three of their attempts, while the Bears are looking for their first make in 2007. Alabama State is the only other team in the subdivision not to make at least one field goal this year, going 0-for-4 thus far. The fewest attempts in a season for Northern Colorado since the team moved to FCS was 10 last season (2006 - 10; 2005 - 13; 2004 - 21; 2003 - 15).

Triple Threat

     Junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento (17), junior linebacker Joe Kenney (10) and freshman defensive back Max Hewitt (10) were all in double figures in tackles against #3 Montana on Saturday, marking the first time since the UC Davis game in 2005 that three Bears hit double figures in tackles in the same contest. Sarmento and Hewitt both notched career-highs in the game.

Catch This

     A total of 15 different players have caught at least one pass for the Bears through the first eight games of the season. Junior tight end Ryan Chesla and senior wide receiver Andy Birkel lead with 27 catches each, while junior wide receiver Cory Fauver is right behind them with 26 receptions. In players with more than reception, Chesla leads the team averaging 12.1 yards per catch, while senior tight end Clint Wright is at 11.3, junior wide receiver Brian Barmann is averaging 10.7 per catch and Birkel is at 10.4 yards.

Inching Closer

     Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel now has 1,188 total career receiving yards with the Bears. It is believed to be the second-most receiving yards by any two year player in Northern Colorado history behind the 1,734 by Dillan Micus (1997-98). Birkel is also now just 397 yards shy of cracking the school's top 10 list for career receiving yards (Graham McDaniel, 1,584, 1992-95).

Big Offensive Plays

     After not having any plays for 20 or more yards in the first two games of the year, the Bears have put together 17 (15 pass, 2 rush) plays from scrimmage that have covered at least 20 yards. Six of those 15 passing plays have been to junior tight end Ryan Chesla, with five coming from senior quarterback Dominic Breazeale and one coming from junior quarterback Mike Vlahogeorge. Redshirt freshman Andy Muns has one rush for 20 yards, while junior David Woods also has a 20-yard gain on the ground this season. Last year, the Bears had 34 plays (23 pass, 11 rush) for 20 or more yards.

Taking Care Of The Ball

     For the second time this season and the second game in a row, Northern Colorado recorded fewer turnovers in the game than the opponent. The Bears had two turnovers (one interception, one fumble) against Montana, while the Griz had three ( two fumbles, one interception). In three contests this year, NC has had the same number of turnovers as the opposition and they currently rank fifth in the league with a -0.25 turnover margin.

Going Streaking

     Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel has caught at least one pass in all 19 games he has played for Northern Colorado... Senior defensive tackle Vinny Pallone started in his 26th consecutive game against Weber State, the longest active streak on the team... Junior wide receiver Cory Fauver has had multiple receptions in all eight games this year... Junior linebacker Joe Kenney has had three or more tackles in 21 straight games and in 27 of the 28 in his career, while junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento has notched four or more tackles in 19 straight and has been in double figures in the last five contests... Senior punter Rafael Mendoza has punted at least five times in the last 15 games for the Bears.

A Win This Week Would...

     Be the first win for the Bears in 2007... Snap a 16-game losing skid, the longest in school history... Be the first-ever win in the Big Sky Conference for the Bears... Break an eight-game home losing streak... Be the first victory over a ranked opponent since Sept. 16, 2006 at #23 Texas State... Improve NC's record to 10-13-1 against Montana State in the all-time series... Give the Bears a 6-5 advantage over Montana State in Greeley... Be the first home victory during Scott Downing's tenure at Northern Colorado.

The Move Back

     Junior Mark Rodden spent his first two seasons on the offensive line at Northern Colorado, then during fall camp he made the move to the defensive line. Due to some extenuating circumstances, Rodden is back on the offensive side of the ball and is listed second on the depth chart at the offensive guard position.

May We Return This?

     The return team at Northern Colorado has stepped up its game this season against Big Sky Conference compared to last year. In 2006, the Bears averaged 17.4 yards per kickoff return, 2.4 yards per punt return and 8.6 yards per interception return in league action. By contrast, the Bears are averaging 19.5 yards per kickoff return, 5.7 yards per punt return and 46.5 yards per interception return at the halfway point of conference play. The Bears' net punt average is also up from 33.3 yards last year to 34.2 yards per punt this season.

Long Standing Record

     The Northern Colorado single game record for most points scored came against the Montana State Bobcats back in 1937 when Elmo Cromer scored 26. Cromer also set the school's touchdown record with four in that game, a record that has since been tied six different times.

By The Numbers

     Senior quarterback Dominic Breazeale recorded his 1,500th career passing yards at Montana and now has 1,607 in 17 games... Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel is 12 yards shy of 1,200 reception yards for his career... Junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento needs 12 tackles to record the 200th of his career... Both senior D.J. Craft and junior linebacker Joe Kenney are two tackles shy of 50 for the season... Kenney is also just 26 tackles shy of 200 for his career... Junior tight end Ryan Chesla needs 132 yards to garner 500 reception yards for his career, while junior wide receiver Brian Barmann is 142 yards shy of the same milestone.

Double Trouble

     Twice this season two Bears have broken the 100-yard barrier in all purpose yards in the same game. Junior defensive back Eric Brown notched 104 yards all coming in kickoff returns, while junior running back David Woods tallied 101 yards (98 rushing, 3 receiving) at Idaho State. The Bears also had two over 100 at San Diego with Woods gaining 180 all-purpose yards, while senior wide receiver Andy Birkel garnered 101 yards.

Tight End Tandem

     The Bears feature tight ends junior Ryan Chesla and senior Clint Wright. Last season, the two combined to average 0.81 catches per game (9 catches, 89 yards, 0 touchdowns). Thus far in 2007, they're averaging 4.38 catches per game (35 catches, 451 yards, 6 touchdowns), 56.4 yards per game and have all six receiving touchdowns on the year.

Injury Update

     Senior defensive back Aaron Henderson, sophomore defensive end Scott Allen and sophomore cornerback Korey Askew are all out the remainder of the season with knee injuries. Junior David Woods left the Montana game early with a hamstring injury and is questionable for the game against Montana State.

Woods Does It All

     He can run, that we knew, but now we know he can throw too. Junior running back David Woods rushed for a career-best 130 yards against Cal Poly, posting the longest rush of the season with a 20-yard gain in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Woods completed a 35-yard pass to senior wide receiver Andy Birkel, setting up the Ryan Chesla touchdown. The pass by Woods is the longest for the team this year. Woods tallied 173 all-purpose yards in the game, gaining 43 yards off two kickoff returns. His 173 all-purpose yards are the most for a Northern Colorado player since the Bears joined the Big Sky Conference and the most since Andre Wilson tallied 220 against Southern Utah on Oct. 22, 2005.

Frequent Flier Miles

     The Bears have amassed 13,528 travel miles already this season, according to the Mileage Calculator, which measures the distance between cities in nautical miles. The season opener to Honolulu was 3,358 miles, while it was 869 to San Diego, 523 to Flagstaff, 938 to San Luis Obispo, 434 miles to Pocatello, Idaho and 642 to Missoula and there is still a trip to Cheney, Washington remaining on the schedule.

Five And Twenty

     Against Northern Arizona, 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.

New Look Bears

     Freshman Josh Mack made his first career start against Cal Poly, becoming the 14th different player to start this season for the Bears. Freshman defensive tackle Amal Gumbs started against Northern Arizona, while at San Diego, both junior wide receiver Cory Fauver and freshman running back Dan Freismuth made their first starts. DT Martin Awachie, 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.

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

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.

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.