BAY CITY, Mich. – The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) released the 2015 football preseason poll Thursday with Ferris State predicted to win the North Division and Ohio Dominican to lead the South. The new season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 3rd with six games scheduled in the GLIAC, while NMU starts the season at Northwood Saturday, Sept. 5th at 1 p.m.
The Wildcats played in seven games that were decided by 10 points or fewer last season and will look to convert more of those close contests into wins with a team that brings back seven starters on the offensive side of the ball and six on defense.
The NMU offense should be able to pick up right where they left off last season after finishing last year with a 66-38 win over Findlay. Junior quarterback Shaye Brown returns and brings more than a full season of starting experience. Brown threw for 2,610 yards last year with 15 touchdowns and set a single-game passing record with 490 yards in the win over Findlay. The air attack will see five of the top six receivers from last season including senior Marcus Tucker who was named Second Team All-GLIAC a season ago after leading the team 843 receiving yards, seven touchdowns and averaging 21.1 yards per catch.
The running game should also be strong with the return of the two top backs from last year in seniors Wyatt Jurasin and Terrance Dye. Jurasin ran for 655 yards and five touchdowns in nine games last year to lead the team before he was a sidelined by injury only to have Dye keep pace rushing for 410 yards and six scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Levi Perry will look to bounce back this season after injuries shortened his 2014 season. Perry ranked sixth on the team with 45 tackles despite only playing in seven games. Junior defensive back Pat Ryan will look to build off a strong season in the NMU secondary after intercepting two passes and breaking up another five, while also ranking fifth on the squad with 49 tackles.
The Northern Michigan schedule is favorable this season with six home games where four of their first six games of the season will be in the Superior Dome. In addition, NMU will only face two teams on the road who posted winning records last season in rival Michigan Tech (Sept. 26) and Wayne State (Oct. 17).
NMU opens preseason camp with players reporting Wednesday, Aug. 12th and the first practice starting Thursday, Aug. 13th. The first practice with full pads will be Monday, Aug. 17th with the first two-a-day Tuesday, Aug. 18th.
The annual media day will be held Sunday, Aug. 23rd in the Superior Dome. All fall practices will be open to the public.
(COURTESY NORTHERN MICHGIAN ATHLETICS)