Tommie Football Notes – Game 1, Sept. 7 vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire
No. 2-ranked St. Thomas is home this Saturday for the 2013 season opener against the Blugolds of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Kickoff is set for 1:10 p.m. at Palmer Field in O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
In the only previous meeting between these institutions, St. Thomas rallied from a late 11-point deficit to win 27-24 last September in Eau Claire. That was UST’s biggest road comeback of the six-year Glenn Caruso era.
Guests coming to campus on Saturdays to watch UST football are asked to park on South Campus. Anderson Parking Facility, entrance on Grand Ave. and Cretin Ave. South, will open for complementary parking on football game days at 8 a.m. It will close an hour or so after the game. Morrison Ramp R-2 and lot R-3 are open only for resident permit holders.
On football Saturdays, persons with state-issued disability permits may park in Lot B, the closest access point to the stadium for parking (Enter off of Selby and Finn Avenues to the north).
There’s a mobility-impaired drop-off site for football games, located at the Anderson Student Center turnaround just north of the Summit-Cretin intersection. Enter off of northbound Cretin Ave. and pull up toward the stadium. Guests may be let out and picked up at the same location after the game.
Out of courtesy to our neighbors, people attending St. Thomas for any event are asked to park on campus and not on city streets surrounding campus. Because of the city permit parking, vehicles may be ticketed or towed by the City of St. Paul
WCCO Radio, 830 AM, will again carry all Tommie football games live on radio and the internet. Dave Lee will call the game with Eric Nelson adding color and sideline interviews. WCCO is now in its 90th consecutive season of broadcasting Saturday college football games. Its acclaimed clear-channel signal extends throughout Minnesota and into parts of Canada, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.
Click here to access WCCO’s webpage with a link to a Listen Live button:
Click here to access live video (click on game day, scroll down to find the channel assigned for UST-Eau Claire and click to access):
There will be in-game updates available at www.TommieMedia.com
Live stat links will be posted by Saturday morning here on Tommiesports.com
Eau Claire is playing for the first time on the Tommie campus. It's playing its first football game in the city of St. Paul since Sept. 1971 when it faced Macalester.
Last season on a warm day at Carson Park -- In his first career start -- Tommie QB Matt O'Connell scored the winning TD on a 32-yard run in the final 3:00 to beat UW-Eau Claire, 27-24. It was the first time in 19 seasons that St. Thomas won a football game in which it overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit.
UST football played 25 home game over the last three seasons (24-1 record), including 10 postseason games. The Tommies had the best home record in all of NCAA football last season at 9-0. The Toms play at home for three of their first four games this season.
Glenn Caruso (57-8 record), last season’s AFCA and Liberty Mutual Division III National Coach of the Year, surpassed 50 Tommie coaching victories in 2012, his fifth seasons at UST. By comparison, John Gagliardi won his 50th game at St. John’s in his 10th season; Mount Union’s Larry Kehres won his 50th game in his seventh season…. Caruso moved into first in UST football coaching victories last postseason he passed Frank Deig (56 wins, 1947-58).
Caruso has done something possibly unprecedented in college football –- improve his team’s record in each of his first seven seasons as a head coach. He took over a Macalester team coming off an 0-9 season in 2006 and went 2-7, then 4-5. He took over a 2-8 Tommie program in 2008 and posted season records of 7-3, 11-2, 12-1, 13-1 and 14-1.
The Tommies are 32-1 in their last 33 games at O'Shaughnessy Stadium, with 17 wins in a row since a 12-7 loss to Bethel in the 2010 NCAA playoff quarterfinals.
St. Thomas returns starters at 16 of 24 positions from an NCAA runner-up team that finished 14-1. That group includes 10 selected first- or second-team all-conference during their careers.
The Tommies graduated three All-America players but return nine offensive starters and a solid corps on defense. Four seniors lead the defensive push -- linebackers Tremayne Williams and Harry Pitera; DL Riley Dombek; and safety Josh Carey. O’Connell and sophomore running backs Brenton Braddock and Jack Kaiser will lead the Tommie run game behind an experienced line.
O’Connell has a 13-1 record as starter, with 22 TD passes and five TD runs on his young career. Williams played all 15 games last season and had 70 tackles (10 tackles for loss, four sacks), three forced fumbles, two interceptions, five break-ups, one fumble recovery. Braddock scored 16 TDs and rushed for 1,132 yards in 12 games after starting the year No. 3 on the depth charts.
UST has several freshmen and transfers on this week’s two-deeps. Among those likely to see some action Saturday include four true freshmen -- offensive tackles Will Hilbert and Chandler Lamke; RB-KR Nick Waldvogel; WR-KR Jordan Millis –- plus transfers TE Nathan Howard; TE Greg Kriege; LB Matthew Larson; and DB Zack Burrington.
St. Thomas ranked among the national leaders in third-down conversions again last season with a 28% conversion rate allowed.
-- Eau Claire was picked to take fifth in the rugged Wisconsin conference and even received one first-place vote.
--The Blugolds’ 4-6 record last season was misleading. Their six defeats included three-point losses to both UST and St. John’s; a 19-10 defeat to UW-Whitewater; and a seven-point loss to UW-Platteville.
--Eau Claire has three potential All-America players topping its roster. Senior workhorse RB Joel Sweeney (2,853 career rushing yards) scored 13 touchdowns last season and rushed for 104 yards against UST; senior center Paul Santi has made all 30 career starts thus far; and senior LB Sean Graham had 63 tackles and three fumble recoveries in 2012.
--Junior Mark Munger makes his first career start at QB. He rushed for one TD in limited QB minutes last season behind multiple-year starter Austin Neu.
Click here for more on Blugold football:
--St. Thomas has won 34 consecutive regular-season games since a 2009 overtime loss at St. John’s.
--UST's conference victory streak is 27, including 14 MIAC road wins in a row.
--Its home-field victory streak is 17, part of a 34-2 home record in five seasons under Glenn Caruso. The two losses were by a combined eight points.
--The Toms have ranked in the top 10 by D3football.com for 44 consecutive polls.
--St. Thomas is 50-0 since Sept. 2008 in games when it scores 21 or more points.
--St. Thomas is 33-0 since the start or 2010 in games when it throws a touchdown pass.
The Tommies are 21-3 against non-conference opponents under Glenn Caruso after going 2-12 in non-conference play in its previous 10 seasons.
That recent record includes an 8-1 record against Wisconsin opponents, topping Oshkosh 28-14 in the 2012 playoff semifinals; losing to Whitewater in the 2011 semifinals, 20-0; going 3-0 vs. UW-River Falls; 3-0 vs. St. Norbert; and 1-0 vs. UW-Eau Claire.
The Tommies' 129-man camp roster includes 20 Wisconsin natives. Twelve players on this week's 53-player 2-deep list are among those 20.
St. Thomas was third in the final 2012 AFCA national poll and No. 3 in the final 2012 D3Football.com national rankings. The Toms were picked No. 2 in the 2013 preseason D3Football.com poll.
St. Thomas has won 52 of its last 57 games… Over the last three seasons, UST is 39-3, including a 15-2 record outside the MIAC... The Toms are 17-1 in September games under Caruso, with the lone loss in six overtimes at St. Olaf in 2008…
--St. Thomas achieved an unprecedented feat in 2012-13 as the first NCAA institution (all divisions) to win its first 14 football and first 14 men’s basketball games in one school year.
--St. Thomas, Mount Union and Wesley are the lone Division III schools to reach the NCAA playoff quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons. Only Mount Union (57) and Whitewater (52) have more Division III football wins than UST's 50 over the last four seasons.
-- Out of all 640 NCAA football programs, just three have won 11 or more games in each of the last four seasons: Boise State, Mount Union and St. Thomas.
-- St. Thomas secured a third consecutive MIAC championship – last done by UST football from 1947-49. St. Thomas became the first program in the 92-year history of the conference to post three consecutive 10-0 regular-season records.
-- UST outscored its last eight 2012 opponents by a 92-7 margin in the second quarter. Those last eight opponents (Augsburg, Concordia-Moorhead, St. Olaf, St. Norbert, Elmhurst, Hobart, UW-Oshkosh, Mount Union) had a combined W-L record of 80-14 last season.
--In October 2012, UST handed playoff-bound Bethel its first shutout loss since 2004 -- covering 90 games – in a 37-0 victory.
--UST’s defense has allowed just two yards per rush attempt during the last three seasons. The swarming Tommie “D” limited Bethel to 31 net yards; Oshkosh to 25 net yards; and Mount Union to a modest 122 yards on 38 carries.
--UST’s defense allowed just 27 touchdowns in 15 games last season.
--Senior Ayo Idowu returned two fumbles for touchdowns in the 2012 NCAA playoffs. Those were the 22nd and 23rd return touchdowns in the five-year Caruso era. That total includes nine interception returns, two blocked punt returns, and 10 Fritz Waldvogel kickoff/punt returns to the end zone.
--The 2012 UST offensive line allowed just 19 sacks in 15 games and blocked for 100-yard rushing days by five different Tommies.
--UST averaged only 3.6 punts a game last season but averaged 40.4 yards per punt, with just one blocked in 15 games.
--UST has led in the second half or overtime of 62 of the 65 games under Caruso (31-20 playoff loss at Linfield in 2009; 2011 playoff loss at Whitewater; and 2012 title game defeat to Mount Union are the exceptions).