Valparaiso (1-6, 1-4 Pioneer)
at Butler (4-4, 2-3 Pioneer)
Game #8: Saturday, Nov. 7, 12 p.m. CT
Butler Bowl (5,647 - Field Turf) - Indianapolis, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Football: One of the biggest rivalries in FCS football reignites Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis. The Hoosier Helmet is on the line as Valpo and Butler clash yet again in a fierce intrastate matchup. Last year, the Brown and Gold returned the iconic trophy to Northwest Indiana following a six-year hiatus. However, the Bulldogs welcome a young Crusader team to the Butler Bowl, a venue where BU has not lost since November 15th of last season.
On the Air: Todd Ickow will be in the booth calling the action on the Valpo Sports Radio Network. For the 10th straight season, WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) is home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2015. ButlerSports.com will carry live streaming whie live stats will also be available for Saturday’s contest. Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Dave Huseman providing color commentary. Links to the audio and live stats are posted at www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Dave Cecchini: Cecchini was 4-8 in 2014, his first year at Valparaiso. His first head coaching win came on Sept. 20th, 2014 when the Crusaders defeated William Jewell, 39-30. Cecchini led the Brown and Gold to their first four-win season since 2007 and their first two PFL-win campaign since 2008. Cecchini’s fresh voice and unparalleled attention to detail on both sides of the ball helped last year’s squad to a 156-point improvement on defense over its predecessors in 2013. Cecchini made a name for himself as offensive coordinator at Harvard in 2003 when the Crimson compiled the fourth-best offense in the nation en route to an undefeated 10-0 season and an Ivy League Championship. Furthermore, The Citadel set 16 offensive records under his tutelage.
All-Time Series: Butler owns a 48-25 edge in the all-time series that began in 1927. The 73 previous meetings with the Bulldogs represent more than any other team in Valpo’s long history. The Crusaders snapped a six-game losing streak to Butler last November with a dominating 17-3 win at Brown Field. The Bulldogs are 6-4 in their last 10 meetings versus the Brown and Gold at the Butler Bowl, including four straight victories.
Wrapping Up 2014: The Crusaders snapped a nine-game losing streak dating back to 2013 when they handed William Jewell a 39-30 defeat on Sep. 20th in Liberty, Mo. The victory was Valpo’s first away from Brown Field since Nov. 3rd, 2012 when they downed Campbell, 41-21. Valpo went on to finish Dave Cecchini’s inaugural season with a 4-8 record.
Scouting Butler: After a season-ending hand injury claimed the final five games of his 2014 campaign, quarterback Matt Shiltz has the Bulldog offense operating swiftly and efficiently. The redshirt senior figures to eclipse 2,000 passing yards Saturday to add to a stat sheet that includes 13 passing TDs, eight rushing scores, and a touchdown reception. Head coach Jeff Voris and the Bulldogs felt his absence throughout much of last November’s Hoosier Helmet showdown at Brown Field. The Crusader defense confined backup quarterback Malcolm Weaver to 186 yards through the air as Butler was unable to penetrate the goal line. Valpo will be hard-pressed to produce an encore performance this Saturday. The Bulldogs are posting a shade under 35 points per game at home thus far. Nine different players have accounted for BU’s 285 rushes, but Shiltz projects to be the primary ball carrier. He’s amassed 521 of the Bulldogs’ 1244 yards on the ground and eight of their 12 rushing touchdowns. No other player has managed to accumulate over 50 rushing yards in a game since Sept. 26th.
Shiltz has done a superb job of spreading the wealth to his receivers, not allowing opposing defenses to zero in on any one (or two) wideout. Marque Martin-Hayes (33 rec., 316 yards), Brandon Collins (16 rec., 198 yards), and Pace Temple (16 rec., 190 yards) have registered three touchdown receptions apiece. Martin-Hayes tallied season watermarks in catches (7) and yards (88) last week at Marist. The senior has snagged multiple passes in all eight games this season for Butler. Meanwhile, Danny Cotter leads a deep receiving corps with 384 receiving yards.
Whether buckling down in the red zone, rising to the occasion on third down, or forcing turnovers, the Butler defense has come through when called upon. In addition to racking up ten sacks over their last three tilts, the Bulldogs have recorded 17 takeaways. Defensive end Josh Willis is the PFL’s sack leader with six, while linebacker Sean Horan touts a team-leading 52 tackles. Safety Isaak Newhouse is in the midst of a breakout season. The sophomore has intercepted four passes and scooped up a fumble. Seven different Bulldogs have forced a fumble.
Martin-Hayes handles the majority of Butler’s kickoff returns. His 25.0 yards per return average has helped the Bulldogs to a No. 4 national ranking in that department. Kicker Jonathan Treloar has been perfect on extra points (27-27), but has split the uprights on just two of his previous seven field goal tries.
Head Coach Jeff Voris: Voris, who guided the Bulldogs to a PFL championship in 2012 and 2013, is in his 10th season as head coach at Butler. The DePauw graduate got his coaching feet wet as a grad assistant at Illinois in 1990. After two seasons with the Fighting Illini, he worked the wide receivers and offensive line at Texas. Voris later accepted the offensive coordinator position at his alma mater before taking over the Carroll (Wis.) College head coaching job. In five seasons at Carroll, Voris grew the roster from 51 players to 11. In 2005 - his final season there - he delivered the first winning campaign since 1996. Voris took over the reins at Butler in December of 2005. He enters Saturday’s game with record of 58-52, good for third on Butler’s all-time list for coaching victories.
Crusader Crumbs: Alex Green’s 11.6 tackles per game average is secnd in the PFL and ninth in the country...Valpo is opening the month of November away from home for the ninth time in the last ten seasons...Butler has won the time-of-possession battle in seven of its eight games this season; Valpo has controlled the clock in three of its seven contests...after closing out the 2014 season sixth nationally in fewest penalties per game, the Crusaders enter Saturday’s contest at that same No. 6 spot for 2015.