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2001 DePauw Football Preview

August 15, 2001


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August 15, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - An experienced defense and a solid passing attack headline DePauw University’s 114th football season as the Old Gold hopes to defend its 2000 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and earn a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship field.

DePauw is coming off a 6-4 season that began with four losses by a total of just 18 points and none by more than six. Three of those losses were to teams that later earned bids to NCAA postseason play.

The season was one of transition for the Tigers as they installed a new defense and opened up the offense while at the same time bringing in four new assistant coaches. DePauw closed the season with six straight wins to claim a share of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title.

"We should come out of the blocks faster this year," Head Coach Nick Mourouzis said.

"Our defense should again be solid with the return of eight starters and several other experienced players and our offense will definitely be wide open. The challenge we will face is to quickly identify and develop our offensive line."

Defense
DePauw’s defense returns eight starters from a unit that allowed just 60 points over the final five contests in 2000 and held opponents to just 28 rushing yards per game and only 1.3 yards per rush in that time. For the season they ranked second in the SCAC against the run by allowing only 78.5 yards per contest which also ranked 21st in Division III.

Tackle Charles Stanback (Jr., Indianapolis/Cathedral) is the lone returning starter to the defensive front, but the Tigers boast a great deal of game experience among the other returning lettermen. Stanback, a second team all-SCAC selection, was sixth on the team last year with 45 tackles and finished with four sacks and three pass breakups. Alson Jacquet (Sr. Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic) and Micah Lukens (Jr., Rochester, Ind./Tippecanoe Valley) are the other top returners on the inside. Jacquet was third on the team last year with 11 tackles for loss and tied for fourth with five sacks on the way to earning second team all-SCAC accolades.

Juniors J.T. Benton (Tempe, Ariz./Tempe) and Tommy Mitchell (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier) lead the candidates for the starting end positions after fine sophomore seasons. Benton recorded 5.5 sacks to rank third in that category. Others battling for action include sophomores Ross Browning (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and Brent Hornett (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg).

The linebacker corps returns intact with senior Jason Geringer (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) leading the way. Geringer, a second team all-SCAC choice, paced the Tigers with 74 tackles a year ago including 47 solos. He was in on five sacks and 10 tackles for loss and, as a three-year starter, provides the defensive unit with tremendous leadership according to Mourouzis. Junior Beau Davis (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) totaled 26 tackles as a full-time starter and sophomore Mike Laszynski (West Lafayette, Ind./Central Catholic) finished in a tie for fourth on the squad with 49 stops after starting the final eight games of his rookie season.

Also competing at linebacker are juniors Broc Leslie (Terre Haute, Ind./Terre Haute North) and Nick Partlow (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) as well as sophomores Jeremy Legge (Aurora, Ind./South Dearborn), Joshua Swift (Forsyth, Ill./Marion-Forsyth) and Jeremy Tubb (Terre Haute, Ind./Terre Haute North).

Another area of considerable strength is the defensive secondary. Led by senior Freddy Marrero (Lake Worth, Fla./Atlantic), the backfield returns all four starters. Marrero totaled 49 tackles as a junior and finished with nine tackles for loss. He also tied for second on the team with three interceptions. Junior John Christophersen (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) led the team with five interceptions last year and was third with 50 tackles.

Sophomores Justin Tillis (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and David Blackburn (Indianapolis/Ben Davis) combined to start 17 games as freshmen and matured throughout the season. Blackburn earned second team all-SCAC honors as he led the team with a team-high nine pass breakups and picked off three passes, while Tillis broke up six passes. Junior Matt Stahley (Dayton, Ohio/Northridge) as well as sophomore Greg Armstrong (Galveston, Ind./Lewis Cass) add depth.

Offense
Senior quarterback Jason Lee (Indianapolis/North Central) wasted little time last year in establishing himself as one of the top Division III quarterbacks and went on to earn Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.

In the team’s third game last season against Hope, Lee set school records for passing yards (486), attempts (72), completions (41), plays (79) and total offense yards (462). In the Monon Bell victory, he completed 14 of 17 second-half passes with three going for touchdowns in rallying the Tigers to the win after they trailed by eight in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter alone, he posted a 324.00 passing efficiency. Sophomore Andy Yoder (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) provides backup.

Mourouzis feels that Lee may have an even better receiving group to work with this year. Joe Schoen graduated after setting a school record last year with 80 receptions, but the Tigers return a wealth of talent. Senior Rondell Ferguson (Boca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights) as well as juniors Dan Ryan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) and John Stephens (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) came off the bench last year and made an impact.

Ferguson finished with 14 catches including five in the final two games with his only touchdown coming against Wabash. Ryan tied the school record with 11 touchdown catches and finished with 43 receptions for 819 yards in just eight games. Stephens totaled 19 catches for 283 yards, but hauled in a pair of touchdown catches against Wabash. He caught at least one pass in each of the Tigers’ 10 games. Others battling for spots include juniors Mark Rinehart (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and Andy Tolle (Tipton, Ind./Tipton).

Junior Ryan Lasley (Indianapolis, Ind./Southport) and sophomore Nathan Collins (Frankfort, Ind./Frankfort) look to battle for the starting tight end spot. Each has displayed a great work ethic and a great ability to catch the football according to Mourouzis.

Though the Tigers may be putting the ball in the air more than ever, they do return a pair of sophomore running backs in Matt King (Tipton, Ind./Tipton) and Jackson Rust (Roachdale, Ind./North Putnam) who gained plenty of experience as freshmen. Rust missed part of the season with a broken thumb, but averaged over four yards per carry. King led the team with five yards per carry and topped 70 yards on three occasions.

Senior Aaron Quesada (Miami, Fla./Braddock) and sophomore Ryan Patrick (Champaign, Ill./Centennial) lead the way at fullback. Quesada started five games in 2000. Both will be used in short yardage and goal line situations.

The big question mark on offense and for the entire team for that matter will be the offensive line. Talented junior left tackle Brian Spilbeler (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) is the lone returning starter after starting all 10 games last year. Top returning linemen include juniors Matt Gaunt (Alexandria, Ind./Alexandria-Monroe) and Mike Robinson (Fort Myers, Fla./Cypress Lake) as well as sophomores John Andrews (Terre Haute, Ind./Terre Haute North), John Roth (West Chester, Ohio/Summit Country Day) and Jonathan Yost (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes).

Kicking Game
Sophomore Ben Murray (Lafayette, Ind./Lafayette Jefferson) returns as the Tigers’ placekicker after a solid and consistent freshman campaign in which he hit nine of 11 field goals and 22 of 26 extra points. Murray was a second team all-SCAC choice as a freshman.

Upperclassmen battling for the starting punting position include Geringer and Stahley. Geringer handled the bulk of the punting chores last season and placed 14 inside the 20 yardline. 

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