Aug. 9, 2004
University of Dayton head football coach Mike Kelly and his staff will welcome 108 players back to campus Monday, August 9 as the Flyers prepare for the 2004 football season. UD will be gunning to keep two significant streaks alive.
The Flyers have had 27 straight winning seasons (among D-I schools, only Florida State, who also has 27 in a row, has done as well). And UD also brings into the year its NCAA-leading streak of 311 games without being shutout.
Dayton will open the season on Thursday, September 2 against Tiffin. Game time at Welcome Stadium will be 7:00 p.m. EDT.
After reporting, attending meetings, getting their equipment and undergoing physicals Monday, the team will undergo fitness tests. First practice for the 2004 Flyers will be Tuesday afternoon, August 10, at 2:30 p.m. The first practice will be conducted at Welcome Stadium. UD's first practice on its new grass practice facility adjacent to the UD Arena Sports Complex will be Wednesday, August 11 at 8:30 a.m.
The Flyers will be looking for their ninth Pioneer Football League Championship in the 12-year history of the league. UD was 9-2 overall last season, and finished 2003 ranked fifth in the final Sports Network NCAA I-AA Mid-Major poll and seventh in the final Football Gazette rankings. Two of the four teams ranked ahead of Dayton in the Sports Network poll-San Diego and eventual PFL champion Valparaiso-are also members of the PFL's North Division.
UD is 119-24 over the last 13 years, and since moving to non-scholarship football in 1977, has the second-best winning percentage in all of college football (.836, behind Mt. Union's .851). UD's senior class has a 30-4 record (12-2 in PFL action) coming into the 2004 season, and are part of two league championships.
A total of 23 letterwinners and eight starters (two offense, four defense and both specialists) are back from last year's team, including senior co-captains Chris Dearth at defensive tackle, Doug Jones (a Sports Network pre-season All-American) at safety and Brandon Staley</a> at quarterback.
Schedule Features Seven Home Dates...The 2004 UD football schedule has six home games (two at night). 9/2 vs. Tiffin 7 p.m.; 9/11 vs. Morehead, 7 p.m.; 9/18 vs. Yale, 1 p.m.; 9/25 @ Austin Peay, 2 p.m.; 10/2 vs. Davidson, 1 p.m.; 10/9 @ Valparaiso, 2:30 p.m.; 10/16 @ Robert Morris, 1:30 p.m.; 10/23 vs. Butler, 1 p.m.; 10/30 vs. Drake, 1 p.m.; 11/6 @ San Diego, 10 p.m.; 11/20 PFL Championship Game @ South Division winner.
Tickets Now On Sale...Season tickets are only $60 for adults, and $30 for children eighth grade and younger. Call 229-4433 for info on group rates. 2004 UD FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
A 9-2 season at most schools would be cause for celebration. At the University of Dayton, the Flyers' 9-2 mark in 2003 is cause for "buckling down" in 2004.
Don't take that to mean the 2003 season was not a success. UD's nine wins last year were more than all but 16 seasons in the 100 years the University has had football (The first varsity season was 1905.). The Flyers extended their own games-without-being-shutout string to 311, the best active streak in college football. Dayton also had its 27th straight winning season. Among NCAA Division I schools, only Florida State, who also has had 27 consecutive winning seasons, has done as well.
Twenty-three of 49 letterwinners return from that team, but only eight starters. Three of the returning starters will serve as the 2004 captains--quarterback redshirt junior Brandon Staley, senior defensive tackle Chris Dearth and senior safety Doug Jones.
Jones earned First Team Division I-AA Mid-Major All-America honors from the Sports Network, and was also named a First Team Academic All-America in his first year as a starter. He led UD in tackles (105), solo tackles (60) and tackles in the backfield (11).
Dearth was a first-team All-Pioneer Football League performer, tallying 51 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.
Staley's 1,961 yards in total offense were the fourth-best single-season total in UD history. He completed 100 of 169 passes (.592) for 1,617 yards and eight touchdowns, with eight interceptions. He was also Dayton's third-leading rusher with 344 net yards and eight rushing TD's.
The captains headline a senior class that enters its final year at UD with a combined 30-4 record. They are 12-2 in the Pioneer Football League and were part of PFL championship teams in 2001 and 2002.
In addition to the captains, other returning starters are junior offensive tackle Ryan Winner, senior middle guard Jared McQuiston, senior cornerback Bill Groetsema, senior kicker Jason Resch and senior punter Brian Gooding.
Winner was thrust into the starting lineup last year when senior Andy Hiser's career was abruptly ended due to injury, and he came through by starting all 11 games at left tackle. Winner helped open the holes for an offense that averaged 4.9 yards a carry and scored 40 rushing TD's. He was named UD's Most Improved Player in 2003.
McQuiston took over middle guard for a two-time All-PFL player, and plugged the middle to the tune of 13 tackles, three in the backfield and one sack. Groetsema had 39 tackles (25 solo), with five passes broken up and an interception.
Resch led the Flyers in scoring (73) points, was 43 of 47 PAT's and 10 of 18 in field goals. He was six-for-seven between 30 and 39 yards. Gooding averaged 37.2 yards a punt, and over half of his punts (23 of 41) were either downed inside the 20 (13) or fair caught (10).
Luckily for UD, the Flyers' depth and style of play require most Dayton football players to pay their dues and wait until they are a junior, or maybe even a senior, before they get to the top of the depth chart. Many times, by the time a UD player has a chance to make aname for himself, he is also close to getting his name on a diploma.
Twelve of the remaining sixteen starting spots are projected to go to returning letterwinners. Six of those projected starters have lettered two years.
Chris Cowan led the Flyers in interceptions (4), despite missing one game and not being listed as a starter in any of them. He was also sixth on the team with 54 tackles, and averaged 12.2 yards per punt return. Defensive end Eric Heideloff has had 24 hits in the last two seasons, as part of Dayton's defensive end rotation. Defensive lineman Trent Warren had 15 tackles last season, with two in the backfield.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight end Ryan Morris moves up after catching three passes in a reserve role in 2003. Center Robby Schwab played in eight games as a junior. Wideout Willy Will caught four passes a year ago before a knee injury interrupted his season.
Two important tandems will be manned by returning lettermen. Linebackers John Hoppe and Kyle Magoteaux played well last season behind all-conference performers Brian Heizman and Michael Short. Hoppe had 21 tackles, and Magoteaux had 11. Tailback Marques Warner averaged 5.2 yards a carry as a freshman in 2003 in the No. 2 tailback role, and he also averaged 27.2 yards per kickoff return (he fell two returns short of qualifying, but that average would have led the PFL). Fullback Matt Mong had just six carries in 2003 (4.7 yards per carry average), but at 6-2, 214 pounds, he has the most size of any Flyer fullback since 1976.
As UD head coach Mike Kelly, the Flyer coaching staff and the team prepare for the 2004 season, they have their sights on not just matching last year's success, but surpassing it, including winning the Pioneer Football League championship. It won't be easy. Dayton was fifth in the final 2003 Sports Network NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major poll, and two of the teams ahead of the Flyers-second-ranked San Diego and third-ranked Valparaiso-are in the PFL North Division with UD, Butler and Drake.
Those two teams are also the only teams who defeated Dayton in 2003, and UD plays both on the road this season.
But the Flyers are up for the challenge. And they've challenged themselves in spring practice, in the weight room and once the season starts, on the field. Dayton's 2004 schedule includes non-conference games with Yale, Division II Tiffin, and Robert Morris. Non-divison PFL foes are Morehead State (the only team to appear in all three PFL championship games), Austin Peay and Davidson.
That's the kind of schedule it will take for UD to recapture the PFL title. The Flyers won or shared eight of the first 11 Pioneer Football League championships, and UD will be shooting to make it nine of 12 in 2004. <P>Looking Back At 2003...Dayton was 9-2 in 2003, and ranked fifth among NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major schools by the Sports Network, and seventh by the Football Gazette. UD had its 27th straight winning season, extending a school record. Among Division I teams, only Florida State has done as well.
Coach Mike Kelly...Is in his 24th year as a head coach (all at Dayton), and has 215 wins. His win in 2002 at Valparaiso, in the 242nd game of his career, made him the second-fastest football coach to reach 200 wins in NCAA history. Only Florida A&M's Jake Gaither, who got to 200 wins in just 240 career games, did it faster (Since then, Larry Kehres of Mt. Union reached 200 wins in 220 games). When Kelly won his 200th, he replaced Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno in the #2 slot. Paterno did it in 246 games. Other notable coaches to reach 200 relatively quickly are Nebraska's Tom Osborne (did it in 249 games), Michigan's Bo Schembechler (262), Ohio State's Woody Hayes (268), Ithaca's Jim Butterfield (268), Stanford's Pop Warner (276), Florida State's Bobby Bowden (279) and Alabama's Bear Bryant (282). Kelly's .832 winning percentage (215-43-1) ranks third all-time among college coaches with 20 years or more as a head coach (#1 among active coaches). He is behind Florida A&M legend Jake Gaither (.844) and Osborne (.836).
Shutout String Continues...The University of Dayton has not been shutout in a school-record 311 games, the longest active streak in college football. When you talk streaks, you should speak of Cal Ripken. Cal ended his streak in 1998, but the Flyers didn't. The last time the Flyers were shut out (versus Marshall in 1976), Cal Ripken Jr. was a 16-year-old high school student at Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland. Putting it another way, Dayton has not been blanked in more than two decades. And while Ripken's Farewell Tour is over, the Flyer offense isn't going anywhere, having averaged 32.0 points a game during the streak.
PFL Power...The Flyers' 43-6 PFL record is the best in the 11-year history of the league.
Tops In I-AA Non-Scholarship...In the eight years I-AA Non-Scholarship has been an option, UD has the best winning percentage (.808, 97-23) of the 27 schools playing at this level.
Ranking Run...Dayton has been ranked either first or second in the Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major poll for 36 of a possible 40 weeks the Sports Network poll has been in existence. The Flyers have been #1 half of the time (20 of 40 weeks).
Hitting The Books...The University of Dayton had three football CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in 2003, the most from one school for the third straight year. UD had eight players named to the 2003 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, which was nearly double any other team in the district (Ohio State had five). UD has had 41 football Academic All-Americans. Among schools currently playing Division I football, only Nebraska (78)and Notre Dame (44) have had more. UD has had at least one football player named Academic All-American in 12 of the last 13 years. Twelve Flyers were nominated for Academic All-America last year.
Gotta Play Smart...The University of Dayton placed a league-best 11 players (tied with San Diego) on the 2003 Academic All-Pioneer Football League team. Since the league's origin in 1993, nearly a third (103 of 364) of the PFL All-Academic selections have been Dayton Flyers. UD also had a league-high 49 players on the PFL Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or better). Drake was next with 38.
Best Of The Best...When Mark Kasmer was named one of just 13 National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes following the 2002 season, he became the fifth UD player to be so honored. Only 35 football playing schools have five or more National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. That list of schools with more includes Nebraska (19), Ohio State (18), Notre Dame (14), Penn State (14), Air Force (13), Army (13), USC (12), Georgia (10), Princeton (10), Stanford (10), Washington (9), Michigan (8), Missouri (8), Texas (8), UCLA (8), Yale (8), Harvard (7), Ole Miss (7), Navy (7), SMU (7), VMI (7), Dartmouth (6), Florida State (6), Furman (6), Illinois (6), MIT (6) and Oklahoma (6).
Super Stat...When Jon Gruden coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl championship last year, he became the second UD grad to coach a Super Bowl winner. Former UD co-captain and 1993 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls (IX, X, XII. & XIV) as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Noll started at center and linebacker for the Flyers and graduated from the University in 1953. Gruden played quarterback at Dayton and earned his degree in 1986. UD became only the third school to have two alumni coach Super Bowl winners. The others San Jose State, with grads Bill Walsh (XIV, XIX, XXIII) and Dick Vermeil (XXXIV), and Arkansas with grads Jimmy Johnson (XXVII, XXVIII) and Barry Switzer (XXX). Gruden is the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, and Noll is the fourth-youngest. As a matter of fact, UD has ties to 18 Super Bowl rings. In addition to Noll's four and Gruden's one, five former members of Dayton coaching staff own a total of 13 Super Bowl rings between them. They are the late Len Fontes (New York Giants, Super Bowl XXI), Jon's father Jim Gruden (San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowls XXII & XXIV), John McVay (49ers, XVI, XIX, XXII, & XXIV), Tom Moore (Pittsburgh Steelers, XIII & XIV) and George Perles (Steelers, IX, X, XII & XIV). McVay was the Flyers' head coach from 1965-72. The other four were UD assistants.