Valparaiso (0-3, 0-0 PFL)
Game #4: Saturday, Oct. 1, 1 p.m. CDT
vs. Morehead State (1-3, 0-1 PFL)
Brown Field (5,000 - ProGrass) - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: Valparaiso opens Pioneer Football League play on Saturday afternoon hosting Morehead State at Brown Field. The first of two straight home games for the Crusaders, the game is part of the school’s annual Homecoming celebration on campus this weekend.
On the Air: For the seventh straight season the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2010. The Valpo Sports Radio Network consists of WAKE (1500-AM, Valparaiso), which will carry every game all season long along with WJOB (1230-AM, Hammond), which will carry select games. Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Keaton Gillogly adding the color commentary this week. The game can also be heard live online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will also be available for the game through www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Dale Carlson: Dale Carlson is 0-14 in his second season with the Crusaders and 110-117-3 overall entering his 23rd season as a collegiate head coach. He arrived at Valpo from Ohio Dominican where he began the Ohio Dominican program from scratch in 2004, just as he did at Tri-State University prior to his tenure with the Panthers. He is the 16th head coach in Valpo history, and just the seventh since 1946.
Series Notes: Morehead State leads the all-time series between the two schools 13-3 dating back to 1996. The Eagles have won the last four meetings, including a 37-15 win in Kentucky to close the 2010 season. Valpo’s last win in the series came in 2006, a 42-35 victory on the road. The lone Crusader win against Morehead State at Brown Field came on Nov. 22, 2003, a 54-42 triumph in the PFL championship game.
Wrapping Up Duquesne: The Dukes scored the game’s first 42 points two Saturday’s ago and piled up 628 yards of total offense on the way to a 49-14 victory over the Crusaders in Pittsburgh, Pa. Nick Malantis led Valpo passing with 105 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Kelvin Smarwt hauled in one touchdown toss while Dale Cook scored the other. Valpo managed just 188 yards of total offense. Christopher Howard led the defense with eight tackles.
Scouting Morehead State: The Eagles have the top offense in NCAA I-FCS averaging 550.3 yards per game, including 415.8 yards through the air. Quarterback Zach Lewis is completing 64.2% of his passes for 1,363 yards this season and nine scores. Desmond Cox leads Morehead State with 338 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while Donte Sawyer has 370 yards receiving on just 16 catches. Kicker Rainer Duzan is 7-of-8 on field goal tries with a long of 48 and has scored 43 points this season. Tony Bachman leads the defense with 36 total tackles.
Coach Carlson Supporting Coach to Cure MD: The Crusader coaching staff will be wearing patches in support of the Coach to Cure MD program for the fourth year in a row. American Football Coaches Association members wore the patches during last week’s games throughout the country, but with Valpo having a bye week, the coaching staff is participating in the event this week.
Valpo in PFL Openers: The Crusaders are looking to snap a four-game losing streak in conference openers on Saturday against Morehead State. Valpo’s last Pioneer Football League opening victory came on Sept. 16, 2006, a 42-35 victory at Morehead State. Last year Valpo fell at home 21-19 against Drake in the first conference contest. Since joining the PFL in 1993, the Crusaders are 5-13 all-time in league openers.
Picking up Positive Yards: Gabe Ali-El is Valpo’s leading rusher on the season with 19 carries for 65 yards. The freshman has not been stopped behind the line of scrimmage for a loss on any carry yet this season.
Malantis Rallies the Offense: Quarterback Nick Malantis came off of the bench two weeks ago at Duquesne and threw for 105 yards and his first two collegiate touchdowns. The senior entered the Duquesne game having thrown for just 171 total yards during his Crusader career. On the year Malantis is 10-of-17 for 168 yards.
Winning the Turnover Battle: For the second time in three games the Brown and Gold won the takeaway battle at Duquesne. Valpo did not commit any miscues the entire game while forcing a Dukes fumble in the red zone late in the first half. On the season the Crusaders have thrown just one interception and lost two fumbles, an average of one giveaway per game.
Converting in the Red Zone: When Valpo has moved the ball into the red zone this season the Crusaders have had a great deal of success scoring. The Brown and Gold is 7-of-8 in red zone attempts, with all seven scores coming on touchdowns. Valpo ranks second in the PFL in red zone success.
Smarwt Picks Up All-Purpose Yardage: Kelvin Smarwt ranks 44th among all FCS players in all-purpose yardage this season averaging 134 yards per game. He has piled up 332 yards on kickoff returns, 60 receiving, nine rushing, and one on punt returns.
A Strong Leg: Greg Wood, a First Team All-Pioneer Football League punter one year ago, is averaging a league-leading 42.8 yard per kick average over his 24 punts this season. The junior had a long of 63 yards against Franklin, and has already has six 50+ yard kicks on the season. For his career Wood averages 43.4 yards per punt. Wood has had at least one 50-yard punt in 12 of his 13 collegiate games.
Behaving Themselves: Valpo ranks second in the PFL averaging just 35.7 yards in penalties per contest. The Crusaders have been whistled for infractions just 13 times (4.3 per game) this season for 107 total yards.
Halfway There: Valpo is nearly two-thirds of the way to the total offensive scoring output from the entire 2010 season in just three games. The Crusaders tallied 100 total points one year ago and have already lit up the scoreboard for 62 this year. The scoring average has more than doubled to 20.7 points per game this year while scoring just 9.1 points per contest one year ago.
Derbak Leading the Way Defensively: Sophomore Pat Derbak registered nine tackles in each of the first two games and added five more at Duquesne to lead the Crusaders with 23 total stops on the year. Last year Derbak recorded just 11 total tackles on the season as a rookie.
Sharing the Ball: Fourteen different players have made at least one catch this season for the Crusaders, with 12 of the 14 making multiple receptions. Tanner Kuramata and Mike Gerton lead the way with nine grabs each while Sean McCarty has a team-leading 90 receiving yards.
Racking Up the Offense: Valpo tallied 463 yards of total offense in the season opener against Franklin, marking the Crusaders’ highest offensive output since the Brown and Gold rolled up 469 yards at Drake on Sept. 29, 2007.
Who’s Up Next?: Chris Smith and Adam Weinel continued to split the place kicking duties two weeks ago at Duquesne, alternating point after touchdown attempts as they have all year. Smith, a senior, is 4-of-5 on his tries while Weinel, a freshman, is 4-for-4. Weinel tried the lone field goal attempt of the year, but was wide left from 38 yards out against Franklin.
Lighting Up the Scoreboard: Valpo’s 35 point outburst against Franklin in the season opener marked the highest point total for the Crusaders since the Brown and Gold scored 47 in a 47-14 victory at Campbell on Nov. 15, 2008. In fact, the Crusaders never scored more than 19 points in all of 2010, and had surpassed that total just 1:47 into the second quarter against the Grizzlies.
Team Captains: Valpo has tri-captains for the 2011 season. Fifth-year senior defensive back Laurence Treadaway and senior defensive lineman Grant Bushong represent the defense while senior center Ferdinand Velez represents the offense.
Crusaders Picked 10th in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish 10th in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the preseason poll. The prognosticators selected Jacksonville to take home the 2011 championship.
This and That: Valpo has converted 66.7% (4-of-6) of its fourth down attempts ... the Crusaders rank 34th in the country (FCS) in passing offense averaging 243.7 yards per game ... Valpo’s defense is still looking for its first quarterback sack of the season.