2007 Football Preview
Bluffton Football to Focus on Consistency in 2007
By Andrea Ressler, sports information assistant
July 30, 2007
As the 2007 Bluffton University football team prepares for a successful year on the gridiron, head coach Greg Brooks is looking for one thing: consistency. Continuing to build on an already strong defense, Brooks hopes to capitalize on a new offensive game plan designed to produce more victories.
The 2006 season looked much like the previous one as the Beavers finished with a 3-7 record (2-5 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), but Brooks hopes to change things in 2007. A central focus for the upcoming season will be on the offensive approach. "We have to stabilize the offensive line, try to run the ball more and control the ball. We need to take the pressure off the defense," said Brooks.
|The new offensive strategy will feature a two back system with a focus on rushing. With multi-dimensional quarterback Jared Owens (Van Wert/Crestview) gone, the time is right to try and revamp the game plan. Using the tight end as an offensive weapon will also be an option for the Beavers as they look at different possibilities for creating a scoring combination. Consistency on both sides of the field, along with fresh plans and a new look to the offense, will be the tools necessary to help the Beavers make their mark in the Heartland Conference.|
OFFENSEThe Beavers will be changing formations as they kick off the 2007 season. With a new game plan and the loss in five-year quarterback Jared Owens, the offense will have a lot of learning to do. The team does return four solid wide receivers, seniors Anthony Bryant (Reynoldsburg/Reynoldsburg), Mike Brown (North Wales, Penn./Calvary Christian Academy), Andrew Lovelace (Trumansburg, NY/Charles U. Dickerson), and sophomore Daniel Chipka (Waterville/Anthony Wayne), all of which, Brooks believes, are capable of contributing and will see significant playing time. Brooks also plans to make better use of junior tight end Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge). "His benefit to the team is better at tight end and we need to take advantage of his talents in the passing game as well," Brooks said.
|With more of a rushing offense in mind, the Beavers' running backs will see plenty of action. Sophomore A.J. Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) returns following a solid 2006 football season, but a broken collarbone suffered during the spring could hinder his ability to contribute right away. Brooks will also depend on senior running back Terence Clayton (Napoleon/Napoleon) as the other workhorse for Bluffton. Senior Eddie Jackson (Dayton/Northridge) will move to the fullback position after starting at linebacker in 2006.|
With an offensive line lacking in numbers and experience, much work in the pre-season will be aimed at developing a strong front so that the offense has time to execute and ultimately put points on the board. "We are hopeful that there are linemen who can step in right away. It's hard to do as freshman, but we are counting on sophomores and juniors to be productive at the start," Brooks stated. With the loss of All-HCAC tackle James Fay (Cairo/Bath) to graduation, sophomores Greg Fenwick (Springfield/Greenon) and Jason Fisher (Rockford/Parkway) will be counted on to open holes for the Bluffton ground game.
The big question, however, is who will command the offense as quarterback. Brooks sees Kyle Coleman (Etna/Watkins Memorial) and Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) as leading candidates for the job. "Our quarterback has to be able to move well," Brooks said. "Both Coleman and Miller move pretty well and have the opportunity to be key contributors in the new offense." With the Beavers looking to use two running backs, more option calls and short routes designed for the tight ends, good decision making will be crucial for whoever takes the snaps.
Once again, the 2007 Beavers will look to their defense for consistency and strength. With the graduation of two-time All-HCAC cornerback Jeremy Anderson (South Rockwood/Airport) and four-time All-HCAC lineman Bryan Lloyd (Elida/Bath), two gaping holes have opened up in the strong Beaver defense. Brooks will turn to standout linebacker Sam McCullough, a two-time first team All-HCAC selection, (Bluffton/Bluffton), junior defensive lineman Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson), and senior defensive backs Erick Buddin (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti) and Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) for consistency and leadership for the 2007 campaign. "Those four guys are solid, very good Division III football players. We will count on them to continue their stellar play this year," Brooks said.
There is depth in the defensive backfield and Brooks is confident in the number of linebacker-type players who will be able to help anchor the defense. Rode, who was named first team All-HCAC a year ago, led the Beavers with five sacks in 2006 and put together 41 tackles, including 21 solos. His skill and leadership will be paramount as first-year coach Bryan Lloyd begins to work with the defensive line which also lost starters Tyler Schwab and Kurt Albers to graduation.
SPECIAL TEAMSKicker Ryan Kantner (Wapakoneta/Wapakoneta) returns for the Beavers and Kyle Coleman also returns as punter. Coleman may give Bluffton options should he open the season as the starting signal caller and punter. Brooks will fill special teams positions in the first days of pre-season with a group of talented recruits.
Brooks has a strong and experienced supporting cast as he enters his fifth season
at the helm for the Beavers. In addition to serving as the head coach, Brooks will
re-claim the role of offensive coordinator as the Beavers unveil a new offensive strategy.
Steve Rogers, in his third year at Bluffton, will continue as offensive line coach.
Brent Burkheimer will once again be the wide receivers coach and Bill Fisher, a former
Bluffton wide receiver, will continue as running backs coach. With 19 years of coaching
experience, Allen Curtiss returns as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for
the Beavers. Denny Phillips will direct the defensive secondary with 2007 Bluffton
graduate Bryan Lloyd taking over as the defensive line coach.