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Doane Picked Eighth by GPAC Coaches

Doane Picked Eighth by GPAC Coaches

Video Links to GPAC Football Media Day
Coach Franzen speaks to the media (full)
Tiger Sports Network interview (part 1)
Tiger Sports Network interview (part 2)

The Great Plains Athletic Conference held the 12th Annual GPAC Football Media Day on Wednesday in Sioux City, Iowa, and each of the 10 conference coaches spoke about their teams and what their outlook for the season was.  A common topic of conversation was the departure of the University of Sioux Falls, the defending conference champion that has elected to move to the Northern Sun Conference and NCAA Division II.  After each coach spoke, they filled out their individual ballots for the preseason poll.

Doane was picked to finish eighth this year after a 3-7 overall and GPAC record a year ago.  The Tigers return eight starters on offense and seven on the defensive side.  Morningside is the favorite for the 2011 season in a close battle with Northwestern.

Below is the coaches' poll...

1. Morningside (79 pts)
2. Northwestern (74 pts)
3. Midland (65 pts)
4. Dakota Wesleyan (52 pts)
5. Hastings (49 pts)
6. Nebraska Wesleyan (45 pts)
7. Concordia (31 pts)
8. Doane (29 pts)
9. Briar Cliff (14 pts)
10. Dordt (12 pts)

The following is the preseason preview made available to the media for GPAC Football Media Day...

The Doane football team enters 2011 with a strong group of returning players and high expectations. The Tigers are coming off a 3-7 overall and conference record. A new champion will be crowned in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) with the departure of the University of Sioux Falls. The Tigers return 34 letter winners and 15 starters for Head Coach Matt Franzen as he enters his fifth season.

The Tigers will open the season with a pair of road games, including the conference opener against Briar Cliff University on September 3. Doane closed last season with a 42-14 win at Briar Cliff as they rolled up 456 yards in total offense. Anthony Dunn threw for three touchdowns while Tiger running backs combined for three on the ground.

Doane will slip a non-conference game with Dakota State into the schedule on September 10. The Tigers and Trojans will meet for the first time in a 4:00 PM start in Madison, S.D.

The home opener for Doane will be against Northwestern College on September 17. The Red Raiders held off the Tigers, 31-23, in Crete last year. Doane closes the month with a trip to rival Nebraska Wesleyan on September 24.

Homecoming will come on October 1 against Midland followed by a second trip to Sioux City on October 8 to face Morningside College. The Tigers will have a bye week following the contest with the Mustangs.

Doane returns home on October 22 with a game against Dakota Wesleyan University. Doane will then travel to Hastings on October 29 before returning home for a meeting with Dordt on November 5. The regular season concludes at Seward against Concordia on November 12. Doane topped Dordt and Concordia last year.

Offensive Outlook
The Tigers return eight starters from last year's squad that ranked fifth in the GPAC in total offense with 324.3 yards per game. The Tigers' strength was in their aerial attack were they finished third in the conference with 230.8 yards per game.

Returning for the Tigers is a strong group of receivers. Jeremiah Saffold (#1) was the top receiver as he earned Second Team All-GPAC honors with 571 yards with six touchdowns. Tyrone Curry (#3) added 429 yards and two scores. Halfback Jesse Ver Velde (#5) added 380 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Devon Niewohner (#88) received honorable mention All-GPAC at tight end after 155 receiving yards and a touchdown.

At quarterback is a pair of players looking to earn the starting spot. The incumbent is Anthony Dunn (#10), a Second Team All-GPAC selection. Dunn threw for 2,060 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. Arriving in the spring from Golden West College was Vince Peraza (#2). Peraza received the majority of the repetitions in spring ball as Dunn was playing for the Tiger baseball team.

Alex Dose (#30) is the top returning rusher from last year with 93 yards from scrimmage. The Tigers graduated their top three rushers from 2010 who combined for 912 yards.

The offensive line receives a boost by the return of Jake Conley (#77). Conley missed part of last season with an injury. He is joined by Second Team All-GPAC, Kevin Roehrich (#57), as well as starters Nick Kuxhausen (#63) and Dillon Carmichael (#70). Joe Vetrovsky (#50) transferred in last spring and should be an asset to the line.

Defensive Outlook
Doane brings back seven starters from a year ago but improvement is needed after allowing 440.3 yards per game, last in the GPAC. The Tigers allowed 43 touchdowns last year, third most in the conference.

Up front, the defensive line will return Nathan Wragge (#98) and Cason Christensen (#92). The duo led the team in tackles for loss last year. Christensen posted 36 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He also performed well in the classroom, earning Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. Wragge posted 30 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Ryan Dirkschneider (#49) could line up on the outside or stand up as a linebacker. He posted 19 total tackles and earned GPAC Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors last year. Clayton Kolling (#59) returns after missing part of last year with an injury and was playing well until that point.

The linebacker corps could be the strength of the team if everyone stays healthy. Dalton Ryba (#52), the team's leader in tackles returns after picking up 73 tackles and 2.5 for lost yardage. Joe Knott (#25) earned honorable mention All-GPAC honors after picking up 66 tackles a year ago. Jeremy Wallace (#34), a transfer from the University of Nebraska, returns to the field after spending some time as a member of the Husker scout team. He recorded 115 total tackles in his senior year of high school for Omaha Bryan.

The secondary returns several players with starting experience through their time at Doane. Josh Milz (#43) posted 45 tackles and an interception last year. Byron Evans (#4) picked up a pair of interceptions last year to go with 24 tackles in his first season. Cody Fanning (#7), Brandon Sharp-Haun (#23) and Kent McCrimmon (#11) also saw plenty of playing time. Keli'i Jackson (#9) transfers in from Santa Ana College where he had 35 tackles and four pass break-ups in seven games.

Special Teams Outlook
The Tigers return kickers on both sides. Andrew Nielsen (#17) earned honorable mention All-GPAC honors last year as he converted 25-of-27 PATs and 4-of-5 field goal attempts. Shane Heidemann (#22) posted 35.0 yards per punt while Brett Eyer (#8) was right behind at 34.8 yards per punt. They should compete once again for the top spot on the depth chart.

The return game could once again fall in the hands of several of the receivers who handled duties last year. Tyler Davis (#6) led the Tigers with 289 yards on kickoff returns and 35 yards on punt returns. Tyrone Curry (#3) collected 162 yards on kickoff returns while running back Alex Dose (#30) posted 281 yards.