Youthful Beavers preparing to dial up the intensity in 2008
By: Thea Rosengarten, sports information assistant
July 30, 2008
As the Bluffton University football team prepares for the 2008 campaign, first-year head coach Tyson Veidt will guide the Beavers on a course that elicits memories of Bluffton football's glory days. This season Veidt looks to outline new philosophies and exercise fundamentals while being aggressive and improving on a daily basis.
The Beavers finished the 2007 season with a 1-9 record, (1-6 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), but Coach Veidt hopes to surprise opponents with a brand-new Bluffton football squad. This year the goal is to dial up the intensity through pre-season workouts which will build depth and hopefully aid in being competitive during both conference and non-conference contests.
This season will be a learning experience for both the players and the coaches; with the freshman outnumbering the upperclassman. "Regardless of playing level, football is a demanding sport both mentally and physically," said Veidt. He is looking for the ten seniors to set the tone right away and be leaders for this young team.
Hoping to strengthen the offensive side of the ball, Veidt is introducing a Multiple I formation for the Beavers which will allow Bluffton to build on its strengths. Senior Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) returns at tight end following a solid 2007 football season in which he was named second team All-Heartland Conference.
With the large incoming freshman class, the pre-season practices in August will be extremely important for the much needed influx of fresh Beaver blood. Some of the newcomers will see playing time this season, as they will help raise the level of aggressiveness, competitiveness and depth for the Beavers.
The Bluffton defense also has a change in store for opponents as they will be going from a traditional four-man front to a three-man front this year, specifically an Odd Stack which will often feature five defensive backs. Returning to the field at defensive end is senior standout Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) who was named first team All-HCAC the past two years after earning honorable mention acclaim following his freshman campaign. Also returning on the defensive side is senior Mitch Agner (Leipsic/Leipsic), a second team All-HCAC selection last year. Agner will move from the defensive line to linebacker this season.
Brandon Herr (Bluffton/Bluffton), an honorable mention All-HCAC selection last season, also returns to the Bluffton secondary for his junior year. The Beavers have large shoes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary with the graduation of all-time leading tackler Sam McCullough and safeties Taylor Iceman and Ryan Christy along with cornerback Erick Buddin.
Entering his first year at Bluffton University, Head Coach Tyson Veidt plans to make several changes to the Beaver football program. From the top down, the coaching staff is placing certifiable emphasis on player character development and attention to detail. Improved strength and conditioning is also a primary focus for Veidt's first-year program at Bluffton. Also new to the coaching staff this year is offensive coordinator Chris Krieg, wide receivers coach Bo White, quarterbacks coach Jason Diller and Brian Hefner who will enter his first season as the defensive line graduate assistant.
Denny Phillips returns for his 19th season with the Beavers as the special teams' coordinator and coach of defensive backs. Lou Stokes, who coached for 18 seasons before taking a two-year hiatus, will return to the Bluffton football program to work with the running backs and serve as the team's director of academic support. Graduate assistant Bill Fisher will work with safeties and be the video coordinator for the Beavers while second-year coach Bryan Lloyd moves from the defensive line to tight ends this season.
"The coaches are very excited for the season to start; returning players and freshman are also looking forward to the challenge. We look forward to the upcoming season and appreciate the support we have received from the university," said Veidt.
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference
The HCAC again looks to be a competitive conference, maintaining a very balanced group of teams from top to bottom with the exception of Mount St. Joe and Franklin College which both went 9-1 last season and qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs. "We have a very competitive conference. Each week will be a challenge," quipped Coach Veidt.
The Beavers will open the 2008 season at Alma on Sept. 6 and travel to long-time foe Adrian before the home opener against their third Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponent in as many games, Kalamazoo, on Sept. 27. Bluffton fans can expect to see a team that is aggressive, fundamentally sound and plays to its strengths as Coach Veidt and the staff will place the youthful Beavers in a position to be successful.