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09 Homer Preview: The Tigers Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Olan Garrett, a proud DePauw grad, BSU fan, and all around football fanatic. His alma mater? D3. His Homer Preview? First class.

Homer Preview: DePauw Tigers

depauwlogo109What You Need To Know
OK, we know, we know, why is a site dedicated to Ball State and Division I Bowl Subdivision football taking any of its’ god forsaken time to publish any story related to Division III football, let alone the DePauw Tigers? Well, to answer the DIII question–for one, TRUE college football fans LOVE college football, no matter what division it’s played in. Second, if you want to watch a football game that’s played with individuals who truly love the game and want to be involved in it instead of getting a scholarship to play in it, then you need to catch a Division III game at some point in your life. And third, as for the DePauw Tigers, the answer is simple, and no, it’s not because one of OTP’s faithful is a 1999 DePauw graduate (GO TIGERS!!!). In short, this team is good!

Expectations in Greencastle are high this season after the Tigers had a very successful 8-2 season last year, tying with Trinity (TX) for second place in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and narrowly missing their first NCAA postseason berth. Buoyed by the return of 41 lettermen, including 17 starters, DePauw is nationally ranked in two 2009 preseason national DIII football polls, ranked 19th by USA Today Sports Weekly and 25th by D3football.com. All eyes are on winning an SCAC title.

Offensively, the Tigers return seven starters to a strong offense that last year put up the 16th best passing offense in the nation. Let there be no doubt that this team knows how to move the football and knows how to score points as they outgunned their opponents all season long in 2008. They are led by their senior quarterback from Indianapolis, Spud Dick. This guy is intelligent and efficient. He completed over 67% of his passes last season, ranking 15th nationally in DIII for passing efficiency, and is already DePauw’s career leader in passing yards, total offensive yards, and pass completions. He’s also DePauw’s version of Cal Ripken—he’s started 29 games in the last three seasons—and was named as one of four Division III players to watch this season by USA Today Sports Weekly. Dick is complemented by a highly skilled veteran receiver core of senior Bryan Mulligan, and juniors Alex Koors and Brayden Dahlstrom. Defensively, the Tigers return eight starters to their defense and those starters are well spread out among the offensive line, linebacker core, and defensive backfield. These starters look to provide leadership for a defense that, despite putting up the best red zone defense in the SCAC in 2008, was marginal overall and is looking to improve greatly.

The biggest question for the Tigers may not be about the team, but rather the head coach. Interim head coach Robby Long took over the reins on August 6 after the sudden departure of former coach Matt Walker. Long has been on the Tiger coaching staff or the last five years as an assistant coach, and as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for each of the last three seasons. Long adjusts into the head coaching duties with about a month to go before the season begins.

The Tigers do not look to have a difficult road schedule, with games at non-conference Anderson, Sewanee, Rhodes, and Birmingham Southern. However, the home schedule has three nationally ranked opponents, including the winners of the last three-straight SCAC titles, Millsaps, conference rival Trinity, and the annual Monon Bell clash against Wabash.

Who You Need to Know
QB Spud Dick
WR Bryan Mulligan
WR Alex Koors
WR Brayden Dahlstrom
K Jordan Havercamp

Games to Watch
The Tigers don’t figure to have a difficult road schedule, but the home schedule includes three nationally ranked opponents, and these are the games that will likely determine DePauw’s success this season.
October 3 vs. Millsaps—if the Tigers are going to win an SCAC title this season, they’ll have to go through the preseason favorites to repeat as conference champions for the fourth consecutive year. Millsaps’ pass offense was the best in the SCAC last season, but the team will be younger and much different as the team lost 20 seniors to graduation. This will have to be a statement game for the Tiger defense (see “They’ll Do Well If…”).
October 24 vs. Trinity (TX)–Trinity has developed into an SCAC conference rivalry in all sports, and this game always seems to be entertaining. Last year, DePauw lost in San Antonio. Along with Millsaps, SCAC coaches picked Trinity to figure prominently in the title hunt.
November 14 vs. Wabash—this is the 116th Monon Bell Game, one of the biggest and greatest rivalries in all of college football! The all-time series is dead even, 53-53 with 9 ties. The Tigers look to retain the Bell for the third straight year after regaining it in 2007 with a come from behind victory at home and retaining it in 2008 by embarrassing Wabash in Crawfordsville 36-14. Wabash will not only be looking to regain the Bell but also to exact some revenge, as DePauw also ruined their undefeated seasons in both years! This won’t be a football game, it’ll be a fight, and you can expect both teams to pull out all the stops!

They’ll Do Well If…
…the defense can defend against the pass and keep the points off the board this season. If there was a weak spot for the Tigers last season, this was it. The Tigers put up both the worst pass defense and the worst overall defense in the SCAC, giving up an average of just over 364 yards a game, 223 of those over the air. In particular, the Tigers’ two losses were in shootouts by a combined score of 100-45.

But the defense did the best job in the conference of keeping their opponents from scoring in the red zone, and also showed a lot of promise in last season’s final two games, allowing their opponents to score only three touchdowns combined. With several defensive starters returning, and the interim head coach being a defensive guy, look for this team to continue to make significant improvements this season.

Season Outlook
Don’t expect the head coach transition to be a distraction for this team. The Tigers are focused, and this looks to be the season that DePauw breaks through and meets their expectations. They don’t go undefeated, but they keep the Monon Bell, win the SCAC for the third time, and make the NCAA postseason for the first time! Who says DIII football can’t be exciting?

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3 Responses

  1. I don’t know if DePauw has ever been featured on a semi well read sports blog, but if they haven’t, what a great first post. Nice work, OG.

  2. Thanks for the preview, very well done!

  3. Excellent overview…very well done.

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