What: VMI Keydets (0-0, 0-0 SoCon) at Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0 PL)
Where: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, 6 p.m.
Tickets: 570-577-1000 or www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice
Internet Video: Bison Vision on Patriot League Network (FREE!)
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH)
Internet Radio: BucknellBison.com
Live Statistics: ESPN.com
Probable Starters - Offense
QB 6 R.J. Nitti (So., 6-4, 220) - 271 yards vs. Holy Cross (2013) most by Bison since 2008
RB 34 Matt DelMauro (Jr., 5-7, 185) - 5 games with at least 50 rushing yards in 2013
RB 4 C.J. Williams (So., 6-1, 205) - Preseason All-Patriot League selection
FB 33 Daniel McManus (Sr., 6-0, 260) - Moved to FB after playing OL earlier in career
WR 2 Bobby Kaslander (Jr., 6-2, 200) - 22 of 24 receptions in 2013 came in final four games of season
WR 80 Josh Brake (Sr., 6-3, 205) - At least one catch in 17 consecutive games
LT 70 Julie'n Davenport (So., 6-7, 320) - Preseason All-Patriot League selection
LG 72 Lonnie Rawles (Sr., 6-4, 290) - 29 straight starts, Preseason All-Patriot League selection
C 77 Brandon Noblett (Sr., 6-2, 285) - 15 career starts at center
RG 79 Nevin Hagman (Sr., 6-3, 285) - 19 career starts
RT 71 Ramy Kased (Jr., 6-6, 320) - 20 career games, 12 starts
TE 88 Patrick Kelly (Sr., 6-3, 230) - Played in all 33 games during career
Probable Starters - Defense
DE 15 Jimmy King (Jr., 6-1, 250) - Expected to make first career start
DT 97 Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood (Sr., 6-1, 285) - Preseason All-Patriot League selection
NG 47 Ben Schumacher (So., 6-2, 265) - Missed freshman season due to injury
DE 99 Connor Hayes (Sr., 6-1, 245) - 19 career games played, 4 starts
Mike LB 27 Evan Byers (Sr., 6-0, 235) - The Sports Network Preseason Third Team All-American
Sam LB 37 Lee Marvel (Sr., 6-0, 215) - Team co-captain along with Matthew Steinbeck
SS 5 Clayton Ewell (Jr., 6-1, 195) - 4th in Patriot League with 12.5 TFL in 2013
FS 43 Louis Taglianetti (Jr., 5-11, 200) - Seven games with at least five tackles in 2013
Whip DB 26 Matthew Steinbeck (Sr., 6-0, 210) - 7th on Bucknell’s career INT list (11); Preseason All-PL
CB 7 Jaylen Amaker (Sr., 6-0, 180) - Team’s Most Improved Def. Player in spring 2014 practice
CB 20 Colin Jonov (Fr., 5-11, 195) - Only freshman listed first on two-deep this week
With a Victory over VMI, Bucknell Would ...
• ... win its season opener for the seventh time in the last nine years.
• ... improve to 89-39-1 all-time in season openers.
• ... win four consecutive season openers for the first time since winning five in a row from 1995 to 1999.
• ... improve to 95-32-1 all-time in home openers.
• ... win its home opener for the second straight year and third time in four years.
• ... win a fifth consecutive home season opener (2006, 2008, 2011, 2013).
• ... defeat the Keydets for the second straight year and take a 2-1 series lead.
• ... stretch its winning streak to three games.
• ... win for the sixth time in its last seven games.
• ... extend its home winning streak to three games.
• ... improve to 2-0 all-time in August.
About the Game
Bucknell and VMI closed the 2013 season with a game in Lexington, Virginia, and will open the 2014 campaign with a contest in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Bison won last year’s matchup 35-23 to even the all-time series at 1-1. Bucknell concluded last season on a hot streak, winning five of its last six games, while the Keydets dropped nine of their final 10 contests. The Bison, who will be opening their 129th season, have had tremendous success in season openers, owning an 88-39-1 all-time mark in the first game of the year. Bucknell is a strong 6-2 in openers since 2006. VMI will be looking for its first win in a season opener since 2010.
• VMI has not finished a season with a .500 record since 2003.
• After an 11-year absence, VMI returns to the conference it called home for 79 years. The Keydets resume Southern Conference play in 2014 after competing in the Big South Conference since the 2003 season.
• Four-year starting QB Eric Kordenbrock departed along with his school-record 6,142 passing yards. Freshman QB Al Cobb was recently named the starter for Saturday’s contest.
• VMI will face two FBS schools this year (Bowling Green, Navy). It will be the first time since 2010 (Army, Virginia) that the Keydets have faced two FBS opponents in the same season.
Bucknell vs. VMI Series Notes
• Bucknell evened the all-time series with a 35-23 victory last November at Foster Stadium.
• VMI won the first meeting in 1978 by a 25-14 score.
• Saturday’s contest marks the first home game for Bucknell in the series.
Last Time vs. VMI
Bucknell 35, VMI 23 (Nov. 23, 2013 - Lexington, Va.)
• Bucknell LB Evan Byers recorded a career-high 19 tackles, the most by a Bison player since at least 2001 and the sixth-most in FCS in 2013.
• Bucknell scored 28 points in the second half after trailing 10-7 at halftime. The Bison tallied 28 of the game’s final 34 points thanks to forcing four second-half turnovers.
• Bucknell’s defense posted season-high marks for tackles (90) and tackles for loss (11.0).
• Bucknell’s average drive start in the second half was the VMI 48-yard line. The Keydets average starting field position in the second half was their own 24-yard line.
• Bucknell is 88-39-1 in season-opening contests. The Bison are 6-2 in their last eight season openers.
• Bucknell has won three consecutive season openers by an average of 5.3 points.
• Bucknell has faced either Marist (twice) or Duquesne (six times) in each of its last eight season openers.
• Saturday’s game will equal the earliest start date to a season for Bucknell. The only other time the Bison began a season this early was 2003 when they opened with a 28-21 home win vs. Duquesne, also on August 30.
• That 2003 game vs. Duquesne is the only other time in program history Bucknell has played a game in the month of August.
Back-to-Back vs. VMI
• After finishing the 2013 campaign with a 35-23 win at VMI, the Bison will be playing the Keydets for a second consecutive game this weekend. The last time Bucknell played a team in back-to-back contests was when it played Muhlenberg in the first two weeks of the 1944 season.
Bucknell vs. Southern Conference
• Bucknell is 5-3 all-time against teams that currently compose the Southern Conference: Furman (4-0), The Citadel (0-2) and VMI (1-1).
• Seniors Lee Marvel and Matthew Steinbeck were elected team captains last spring.
• Marvel is a two-year starter at safety and linebacker who has played in all 33 games during his career. He ranked second on the team with a career-high 68 tackles last fall.
• Steinbeck is a two-time All-Patriot League safety who ranks seventh on the program’s career interceptions list (11). He was a Preseason All-Patriot League selection this summer for the second straight year.
• Bucknell opens its 129th season of football Saturday vs. VMI. Only Princeton (145), Yale (142), Harvard (140), Penn (138), Dartmouth (133), Lafayette (133), Lehigh (131) and Richmond (131) have played longer among current FCS teams. Bucknell ranks 19th among all FCS programs with 580 all-time victories.
• Bucknell had seven players named All-Patriot League and six of them return in 2014.
• First-time selections Evan Byers and Lonnie Rawles return, as do second-team picks Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Julie'n Davenport, Matthew Steinbeck and C.J. Williams.
• The only All-Patriot League player to graduate was All-American Tracey Smith.
• Bucknell has had 14 All-Patriot League selections the last two years and 11 of them have returned the following season.
Big Offensive Line
Bucknell’s projected opening day offensive line will be the largest by weight in the last decade.
Average Game One Offensive Line Heights/Weights (since 2004)
2004: 6’2", 282
2005: 6’2", 257
2006: 6’2", 265
2007: 6’2", 268
2008: 6’1", 263
2009: 6’0", 269
2010: 6’1", 271
2011: 6’2", 278
2012: 6’3", 289
2013: 6’4", 297
2014: 6’4", 300
• Bucknell’s defense has at least one interception in 26 of 33 games over the last three years.
• The Bison have forced 82 turnovers over the last three years (2.5 per game), including 39 in 2011 to rank second nationally.
• Bucknell is 12-3 in its last 15 games it has scored at least 20 points.
• Thirteen of Bucknell’s 16 wins under Joe Susan have come when the team has scored 20 points.
• Bucknell scored at least 20 points on six occasions in 2013.
• Bucknell is 17-16 in night games (6 p.m. or later starts) since 2000.
• The Bison were 1-1 at night last year and are scheduled for four night games this year (vs. VMI, at Marist, vs. Cornell, vs. Fordham).
• Ten of Bucknell’s 11 opponents from 2013 remain on the Bison 2014 schedue. The only change is Bryant taking the place of Dartmouth.
• Bucknell will have five home games this year, marking the fifth time in the last six campaigns it has five home contests and six road games.
• Bucknell will have two in-season bye weeks (Sept. 13, Oct. 18) this year for the first time in the history of the program.
• Five of Bucknell’s first seven games will be on the road.
• Bucknell will play a non-Saturday game for the first time since 2004 when it hosts Fordham Friday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on CBS Sports Network.
• Junior Brian Regan recently changed positions, moving from cornerback to running back. He was a running back his first two years as a Bison.
• Joe Susan recently announced R.J. Nitti as Bucknell’s starting quarterback. Brandon Wesley was the starter at quarterback the last four years and graduated with the majority of school passing records.
• Once again, Bucknell football games can be heard locally on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM). Doug Birdsong will handle the play-by-play duties, while Kevin Herr, an employee of Sunbury Broadcasting, will serve as color analyst for a seventh consecutive year. The radio broadcasts are also available free of charge via BucknellBison.com.
• Fans will be able to watch all five of Bucknell’s home games via various sources:
• The VMI, Cornell and Lafayette games will air on Bison Vision on the Patriot League Network. All broadcasts are free of charge and feature high-quality video.
• The Colgate game will air on the Patriot League Network and will be free of charge. The broadcast will be produced by Campus Insiders.
• The Fordham game will air live nationally on CBS Sports Network.
• A number of Bucknell road games will air live on the home team’s video platform, including the Lehigh, Georgetown and Holy Cross contests that will be part of the Patriot League Network.
• Links for all online video broadcasts will be prominently displayed on BucknellBison.com.
• Bucknell will hit the road for the first time in 2014 next Saturday when it travels to Marist for a 6 p.m. contest. The Bison and Red Foxes have met each of the last nine years and Bucknell owns an 8-1 lead in the all-time series, including three straight victories.