USF Football Weekly Release No. 1
Live Stream: St. Cloud will provide a free live stream of Thursday's NSIC matchup at http://nmtvsports.com
Radio: KOOL (FM 107.9) will air Thursday's game. Player interviews and the Jed Stugart pregame show airs 45 minutes prior to kickoff. Tom Frederick and Tim Hiatt will team up to call the play-by-play.
Links to live audio, stats and video stream can be found online at www.usfcougars.com
*Cougar football will return to KWSN 1230 next week.
First and 10
• The season-opener also marks the second consecutive season the Cougar football team has began play on a Thursday.
• Head Coach Jed Stugart is 1-1 in season openers, falling to No. 22 Washburn 31-17 last season, but he's 1-0 in season openers on the road as he led the Cougars to a 41-24 victory at No. 23 Northwestern in his head coaching debut in 2010.
• With No. 16 St. Cloud State, USF will have faced five top-25 opponents in their last 10 games (Washburn, NW Missouri State, McNeese and North Dakota).
• The 2011 squad was the first Cougar team to win fewer than 11 games since the fall of 2000.
• From 1993 to 1996, St. Cloud head coach, Scott Underwood served as the defensive coordinator at USF. The Cougars advanced to the playoffs during three of those seasons and won the NAIA Division II National Championship in 1996.
• On offense, the Cougars return 96 percent of their rushing yards, 100 percent of their passing yards and 57 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago.
• Senior running back Kristian Porter enters the game just 15 yards shy of the 1500 yard career mark
• Under Stugart's guidance, the Cougars have won 18 (78.2%) of their last 23 games. Three of those five losses came on the road and four were against top-25 opponents.
• St. Cloud posted an impressive 9-3 record last season to secure their second consecutive playoff appearance and a 2011 co-conference crown.
• Thursday's current forecast calls for 69 degrees and clear. USF is 15-1 in games played in 69 degree or lower weather with Stugart at the helm.
In 2011, USF held opponents to just 113.9 yards per game on the ground, which would have been the 23rd-best mark in the NCAA D-II last season. The Cougars also carry a 15 game streak of not allowing a single player to rush for 100 yards. Josh Endres of Dakota Wesleyan (10/23/10) was the last player to surpass the century mark against a USF defense.
NSIC Preseason Awards
St. Cloud State boasts the North Division's Offensive and Defensive Preseason Player of the Year in quarterback Phillip Klaphake and defensive back Marvin Matthews.
The Usual Suspects
USF returns eight defensive starters, including the senior trio of ILB Eric Anderson (58 tackles, six TFL, one sack, one INT), preseason All-American OLB Nick Bonte (56 tackles, 12 TFL, two sacks, three forced fumbles) and ILB Matt White (80 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT).
High Octane Offense
USF's total offense average of 347.6 yards per game would have ranked No. 3 in all of DII last season.
USF finished 5-4 in 2011, marking the program's eighteenth-straight season with a .500 or better overall record. The Cougars carried positive momentum going into the offseason, winning five of their last six games after starting the year 0-3 for the first time since 1987 (3-7).
Placekicker and punter Braden Wieking returns for his senior season. The Sioux Falls native will begin the 2012 campaign seventh on USF's all-time scoring list with 309 points and is on pace to become the Cougars' career leader in field goals, PATs and career leader for points scored by a kicker. A three-year starter, Wieking is 39 for 54 on field goal attempts in his career (66.7 %) and holds USF's consecutive points after touchdown record (162). He also averaged 40 yards per punt last year and had 12 punts downed inside the 20. Last season the Cougars ranked 41st in NCAA D-II in net punting (34.3 yards).
USF special teams became one of the more dangerous units in the nation last season. Tucker's squad blocked a USF record seven kicks in 2011 and four in 2010.
Senior safety Michael Frericks, who ranked sixth on the team last season with 42 tackles is six tackles shy of the century mark for his career.
Listed at 6-3, 180 pounds senior wide receiver Jeremiah Oates averaged 14 yards per catch to lead the team with nine touchdowns and claim the longest play from scrimmage in 2011, a 52 yard snag against South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (10/22).