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TU Football Poised to Open 2015 Campaign

Contributed by admin on Aug 31, 2015 - 09:48 PM
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UPLAND, Ind. – On the heels of back-to-back five-win seasons that included 3-3 showings in the Mid-States Football Association, the Taylor University football team is eyeing its first winning record since 2010 as the start of a promising 2015 campaign draws near.


"We have our sights set on competing for the MSFA Mideast League Championship," stated eight-year head coach Ron Korfmacher. "Everything we do is team driven. Every man on the roster hustles, prepares and competes. We are seeking to contend for the league title, which is a gateway to the postseason."


The Trojans battled through a rash of key injuries and a relentless schedule in 2014 to end at 5-6 overall and 3-3 within the MSFA Mideast League. TU overcame the challenges to post a 5-4 mark against NAIA opponents and split four games against teams ranked inside the NAIA Top-25.


"We went deep into the roster in 2014 and we return players at nearly all positions," added Korfmacher. "The injuries we faced really forced us to create great depth."


The 2015 squad will feature 51 returners among the 83 student-athletes on the roster, including 15 returning starters and an 18-man senior class with 15 student-athletes in their final season of eligibility.


"We have really solid leadership across multiple positions, with production and exceptional depth," continued Korfmacher. "We have playmakers on the edges of the offense and a great unit surrounding a young quarterback. On defense, we are strong up the middle, starting from our interior front line all the way through to our safeties."


An offense that was often derailed by injuries throughout 2014 will look to return to form on the strength of a deep and explosive receiving unit, highlighted by All-MSFA standoutsShawn Lashbrook and Hans Lundberg. Fellow returners, Caleb NicleyAndrew SheardRobby RobbinsMichael Miller and Brandon Haan will also see plenty of time.


The deep list of wide receivers and tight ends will give red-shirt freshman quarterback, Everett Pollard, plenty of targets in the passing game as he settles into his first season under center for the Trojans. Wilson Alexander could also see time in the pocket for TU, after starting two MSFA contests last season and coming off the bench in six additional outings.


Patrick StevensChris Chang and Austin Garde will return to starting roles on the offensive line, and will be joined by Taylor Johnson and Logan Ball in the front five with Noah Grahamalso expected to see valuable time. The unit will look to open holes for Justin KeysRichardson Giordani and Conner Faulkner in the TU running game.


A Taylor defensive unit that has ranked inside the top-25 in the NAIA in each of the past two seasons will be anchored by American Football Coaches Association All-American,Adam Sauder.


Sauder will be joined by fellow 2014 All-MSFA performer Tyler Mills and 2013 All-MSFA standout Dovi Gamble in the secondary, with Jace LaMunyonDustin WannerTim Barrett and a host of other Trojans making up what figures to be TU's strongest and deepest position group on the gridiron.


Taylor will have several other familiar faces up front on the defensive side of the ball, with All-MSFA standouts Jake Venable and Jay Johnson leading the defensive line interior along with Jeremy RamirezAlex Anderson and Josh Lamica on the edges. Nathaniel Ryan and Cameron Gray return to their starting roles at the linebacker position with Blake Wheelerexpected to round out the starting unit.


Brandon Haan took over the punting duties for Taylor in 2014 and went on to earn All-MSFA recognition. Haan will continue as TU's primary punter with Wynn Coggin returning to handle the kicking game once again.


The return game will feature a host of options, as Giordani, Lashbrook, Kyle Windebank and Nate Phillips are all expected to get early opportunities for the Purple and Gold.


Korfmacher summed up his thoughts on the 2015 squad saying, "It always comes down to team ball and fundamentals."


After hitting the road for seven away contests during the 11-game grind in 2014, Taylor will have six-of-10 games played inside Turner Stadium during the 2015 regular season. The slate is highlighted by four night games against Indiana rivals, including three-straight home outings under the lights to start the season.


"We have a great opportunity to open the season on a homestand with three night games against teams from Indiana," expressed Korfmacher. "We need to start fast due to MSFA play beginning in week two."


Taylor will get things started with the 26th Wagon Wheel game against Anderson in the season-opener on September 5 at 7:00 pm. TU will then start MSFA play against Saint Francis on September 12 at 7:00 pm, before hosting NCAA Division I FCS Butler for another 7:00 pm start on September 19.


Road games the next two weeks will be followed by a showdown in Upland against preseason No. 1 Marian on October 10 at 7:00 pm. TU will then host Concordia for Homecoming on October 24 at 1:00 pm and Lindenwood for Senior Day on November 7 at 1:00 pm to round out the busy home schedule.