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On Wayne State August 29, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Wayne State.
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DFR took a good look today at Wayne State’s newly-released depth chart.

Coach Winters noted last week that injuries have hurt WSU’s depth, especially along the lines, which wasn’t deep on the defensive side to begin with.

He also said that tackle Ray Rocheleau might miss the season because of injury. Ryan Jonik replaced him at left tackle on the depth chart. The line, which originally was slated to lose just one starter (Grant Fodor), now might be forced to break in three new starters. Chris Ostosh, who has started all 21 games in his college career, was listed behind redshirt freshman Marc Cuddeback. Muhammad Abdullah is the biggest lineman (6-6, 318) but returns after not playing football last year.

Winters was noncommittal as to a starting quarterback at the end of camp last Thursday, but appears to have settled on Trent Pohl. Winters said he would not use a rotation but Zach George may eventually see time this year out of necessity, because of fatigue, ect.

Ed Sanders (6-0) performed well enough through summer and camp to be tabbed as one of the top receivers. Winters went as far to call him a possible No. 1. Chris Alsina (6-2) is the other starter. Travis Campbell and Chris Ratcliff are the backups. Hard to imagine that Adrian Dawkins won’t see some time. Winters said that true freshman David Mosley “is going to play.”

Dante Dunn and Jonathan Klyce are penciled in as starters on the corners, while Steve Wisnewski and Brandon Cooper are the starting safties. Cornelius Dillard, Stan Thornton, Kenny Watson, Brent Wisniewski, Wendell Thompson and true freshman Myles McNichols are also candidates to see time.

Click through for more Winters on last week’s conclusion of camp: (more…)

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Apparently Michigan Tech throws the ball too August 28, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in GLIAC, Wayne State.
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warriors3.jpgmtu.jpgMichigan Tech quarterback Steve Short was his usual dual-threat self during Saturday’s shootout loss to Winona State, averaging 6.1 yards on 12 carries (team-high 73 rushing yards).

He also took to the air, early and often, hitting 27-of-45 for a whopping 431 yards and six (!) touchdowns in Tech’s 47-44 overtime loss.

Let’s put those passing numbers in perspective – Short’s six TDs equaled his total from last season, when he split time with Drew Schaft. The tandem combined to average 19.9 pass attempts per game with a high of 23. MTU doubled that against Winona State, a playoff team last season.

Granted, Tech was behind virtually the whole game, and the teams combined for an insane 1,038 yards and 45 points in the last 10 minutes of the game.

The last time Michigan Tech had a similar ratio of more passes (45) than rushes (41)? Last year’s opener against Wayne State, when the Huskies tossed it 37 times and ran 35.

Winona State started a freshman (Tyler Wegner), two juniors (Tony Hill and Tyler Wegner) and a senior (Craig Martindale) in the secondary. Only Martindale had marginal game experience.

My question to WSU coach Paul Winters last week was whether the inexperienced defensive line needed to grow up in a hurry to stop MTU’s rushing attack. His response was that the entire defense would have to grow up pretty quickly, just because how Tech runs its offense. There are many weapons, starting with the quarterback. A lot of their running comes off quarterback draws. That’s on the linebackers and secondary to be in position to make plays and stops.

Apparently, with a starting secondary similar to Winona State’s (experience-wise), it will take a team effort to limit the Huskies through the air and avoid a repeat 400-yard performance, too.

Audio: Wayne State coach Paul Winters August 23, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in audio, Wayne State.
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Listen to Wayne State head football coach Paul Winters after WSU’s Saturday open scrimmage in an exclusive interview with DFR’s Shawn Wright. As the Warriors head into the final week of camp, listen to Winters on the starting quarterback battle, bumps and bruises, the strength of linebacker Tristan Black and more …

Click through for the link … (more…)

GVSU tabbed No. 1 in AFCA Poll; no Wayne State August 22, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in GLIAC, News, Wayne State.
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DETROIT – The WSU coaches would shrug it off and say it doesn’t matter. And they are right. Preseason rankings, especially when you get down to lower levels like Division II and III, are more crapshoot than science, sometimes based more on prestige than potential.

Wayne State was slighted, apparently, when the recently released AFCA Division II coaches’ poll mentioned four GLIAC teams – defending national champion Grand Valley State at No. 1, Northwood at No. 14, Saginaw Valley State and Ferris State receiving votes – but right now the Warriors have no business in the top 25. They have lots to prove through the season’s first four weeks and will have to earn their way into the rankings.

Michigan Tech will have revenge on its mind as it makes the 11-hour trek to Detroit for next Saturday’s season opener. The Huskies were thrashed, 36-14, at home by Wayne State to open last season and return a bulk of their defensive stars. Don’t think the Huskies want a repeat of last year’s 0-4 start. They also want to squelch the anticipation surrounding the debut of a much-hyped Tech-transfer – WSU running back Daryl Graham.

WSU hits the road for Weeks 2 and 3 – against St. Joesph’s (Ind.), which beat the Warriors last year and returns All-American quarterback Anthony Lindsey, and Mercyhurst, which gave WSU a scare last year at Adams Field, leading midway through the fourth quarter.

Although the Lakers and Findlay (WSU’s Week 4 opponent) are projected to be GLIAC bottom-feeders, a 4-0 start for WSU would be impressive – it hasn’t happened for WSU since 1967 – and deserving of some national recognition entering the Week 5 neutral-site contest against Grand Valley.

Check back early next week for our GLIAC Preview, which takes a quick look at all 13 teams while previewing the 2007 season.

WSU Open Scrimmage Report August 19, 2007

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By Shawn Wright

With exactly two weeks until the 2007 home opener, Wayne State held its annual Media Day, which also showcased the new-look Warriors in an intersquad scrimmage.

Click through for a complete report from Saturday’s tuneup at Adams Field. Photos, quotes and interviews from the event will be posted later. (more…)

WSU: Numbers crunching August 15, 2007

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Here are some Wayne State offensive and defensive stats and GLIAC ranks that didn’t make the preview page.

It’s interesting to note WSU’s relative strengths and weaknesses based on these stats. On offense, obviously rushing offense and red zone offense stood out – both ranked third. WSU’s high rank in total offense (fourth) was largely dependent on a strong run game. The Warriors also ranked almost last (11th) in 3rd down conversions.

Conversely, on the other side of the ball WSU was the absolute best in the conference at stopping teams on third down, holding opponents to a 31.7 percent clip on third down. The numbers elsewhere? Not so good. WSU was in the middle of the pack or below in most defensive categories, and this was with a senior-laden defense. WSU ranked poorly in rushing defense (11th) and, consequently, total defense (10th).

Also, I have back posted some stories from the MHSFCA All-Star Game – including profiles on five incoming WSU recruits – and a WSU football notebook that never quite made it to the Internet. For those interested, these items can be found back in late July (23-30), and on our Gameday Central page.

Click through for the numbers … (more…)

Wayne State Preview 2007: Special Teams August 14, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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Dante Dunn returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Indianapolis last year. Dunn and Joique Bell – ‘Thunder and Lightning’ in WSU circles – comprised the GLIAC’s most dangerous kickoff return tandem last season. (Photo by Ron Harper)

Click through for the preview … (more…)

Wayne State Preview 2007: The Defense August 14, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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Wayne State linebackers Alan Guy (10) and Prosper Iwu (43) pull down Ashland quarterback Billy Cundiff last year. All three starters are back at linebacker, making this defensive unit WSU’s strongest. (Photo by Ron Harper)

Click through for the preview …

(more…)

Wayne State Preview 2007: The Offense August 13, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in Previews, Wayne State.
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Joique Bell heads toward the endzone last year against Ashland. Bell finished the season with 2,065 rushing yards, a NCAA Division II freshman record, and returns to lead the WSU offense this season. (Photo by Ron Harper)

OVERVIEW

Last season was, potentially, the first of many successful gridiron campaigns for Wayne State.

In his third season as head coach, Paul Winters made more progress in his transformation of a program with an apathetic culture and losing identity into one capable of contending for an NCAA playoff berth and competing for a GLIAC Championship.

Winters’ club enters 2007 looking for the next big payoff. Is this team – which will sport, by all accounts, one of the most explosive offenses nationally – ready to contend in the top-heavy GLIAC?

WSU finished a modest 6-5 (6-4 GLIAC) last year but was in contention for an at-large postseason spot all the way down to the season’s last week at Ferris State, where the Warriors stood inside the FSU 20-yard line with under two minutes left, trailing by four but poised to punch in a go-ahead touchdown.

The ensuing Chris Middlebrooks fumble and eventual 21-17 loss was another case of an inexperienced team enduring the inevitable bruises along the path to becoming a consistent winner.

There was also a 17-10 loss against a beatable St. Joseph’s (Ind.) team, a 39-17 mauling at the hands of Indianapolis when the Warriors didn’t come to play, and a 48-34 defeat at Northwood where the defense couldn’t stop a soul.

Those three setbacks, coupled with losses to Ferris and No. 1 Grand Valley State, doomed the Warriors to the middle of the GLIAC pack.

Perhaps a veteran team wins two or three of those games. Maybe a team that has spent 365 days under a Winters structure, learning how to win every day, comes away with tight wins instead of close losses.

We’ll find out this season whether that holds true. The Warriors are optimistic that with all the returning pieces on offense, with a collection of impact freshmen, with a full year under the strength and conditioning regimen of Paul Harker, they will play another sequence of meaningful games well into November.

The schedule remains the same with only the venues changed. And, again, many of the same teams – Northwood, Ferris State, Indianapolis – share the Warriors’ aspirations to compete in the upper echelon of this competitive Division II league.

While this season will present challenges – the defense will have to replace the entire secondary and the team will be very young on the defensive line and at wide receiver – Warrior coaches and players are confident they will measure up. (more…)

McNichols has lots to prove July 30, 2007

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Myles McNichols wasn’t allowed to wear his trademark gold shoes but played both cornerback and safety at Saturday’s MHSFCA All-Star Game and projects as an impact player in the Wayne State secondary for years to come. (Photo by Kyle Stefan)

Versatile DB wants to show D-I schools they missed out

By Kyle Stefan

If anyone in Wayne State’s incoming recruiting class felt slighted by the process, it was Myles McNichols.

A 6-foot-1 cornerback and a three-sport athlete at Battle Creek Central, McNichols felt he had the speed, height and athleticism to make an impact on the Division I level.

Colleges could look at his measurable — he ran a blazing 51.98 second 400-meter dash as a track standout — and big-play instincts — he took a kickoff back 93 yards for a touchdown and picked off seven passes in his BCC career — as proof.

While the whole GLIAC offered, McNichols waited for MAC schools to enter the competition. Central Michigan courted early, while a late push by Bowling Green piqued his interest a week after Signing Day.

But offers never came.

“It was tough for me,” McNichols said. “It hurt a little bit. I think some (D-I) colleges messed up.”

Enter Wayne State, which made a late push to sign McNichols over Grand Valley State almost a week after signing day.

Now, McNichols enters an advantageous situation — the Warriors lost their top five defensive backs to graduation and routinely play their best athletes on special teams — with something to prove.

“Don’t confuse it — I am in no way disappointed going to Wayne State,” he said. “Coach Mattix called in January and thought it would be best for me to come up there early, because most likely I’d be suiting up this year.

“They wouldn’t have brought me in — doing what they’re doing with me — if they didn’t want me to play.”

At the D-II level, WSU head coach Paul Winters has seen plenty of recruits in McNichols’ predicament.

“Sometimes, guys like that come in with a chip on their shoulder, really work hard and excel,” Winters said. “Other times, you have guys that don’t work hard, that have a sense of entitlement, that think they’re better than here.

“I don’t think Myles is like that. He wants to be a star.”

And McNichols, despite the snub, has a similar mentality.

“It’s all right,” he said about his final destination. “I’m about to go play at Wayne State, become an All-American, get some league looks and just prove to everybody that they should have picked Myles McNichols.”

Powerful Easterly looks to excel July 29, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in profiles, Wayne State.
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Detroit native will begin college career as safety

By Kyle Stefan

When the National Letters of Intent were finalized on Signing Day, one burning question remained.

How in the world did Wayne State end up with Zach Easterly?

A 6-foot-3, 210-pound physical specimen, Easterly was ranked No. 37 by Rivals.com, a position that typically signifies a MAC-level or mid-major talent.

Add in his unique combination of speed and power — allowing Easterly to project as either an outside linebacker or strong safety — and it was a wonder that no Division I schools extended offers.

“I was shocked we got him,” admitted WSU head coach Paul Winters. “I don’t know how Zach didn’t get more Division I interest.”

Easterly has an idea.

“Bad film, for one,” he said. “That’s on my part. If I had better film, things might have played out differently.” (more…)

Ajami already excited about becoming a Warrior July 28, 2007

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Stout guard wants a WSU national championship

By Shawn Wright

Mike Ajami has yet to put on a Wayne State uniform but already feels like a Warrior.

The 6-foot-1 guard, who played with three future teammates at the MHSFCA All-Star game, is already getting fired up — and firing up his teammates.

“I told them before the game that this is one of many to come,” Ajami said of his WSU East All-Star teammates. “I’m ready to go get it done [for Wayne State], hopefully win a national championship there and get the program back on track.”

Normally, these would be lofty aspirations for an incoming freshman, but Ajami has the track record to prove that he’s a competitor.ajami.jpg

At Dearborn High School, Ajami won the team leadership award his senior season and was voted the Pioneers’ MVP.

Off the field, Ajami fits the description of a student-athlete, having been voted to the Academic All-State Team and finishing his high school career with a 3.4 grade point average.

Ajami had already seen one of his future teammates before the All-Star game, competing against Mike Moynihan’s Allen Park Jaguars a total of four times in two years — the biggest coming when the two faced off in the first round of last year’s state semifinals.

The former adversaries will now work together for the common good of Wayne State.

“We’ve been going at it for awhile,” Ajami said of Moynihan. “But since then I’ve become friends with him, [fellow WSU East All-Stars] Joe Long and Zach Easterly — I’m ready to go to battle with these guys.”

Ajami insists that he’s nobody special, but according to East All-Star head coach Drake Wilkins, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“All of these kids are super kids,” Wilkins said referring to the WSU class. “It’s a coach’s dream and I’ve been coaching for awhile. Wayne State has some talented kids that they’re getting and you couldn’t ask for a better group.”

Moynihan is anything but average July 27, 2007

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Despite smallish frame, linebacker ready to step up at Wayne State

By Shawn Wright

On the surface, Mike Moynihan is just an average kid. He likes to go to parties, hang out with friends and play video games.

And despite his seemingly pedestrian frame — all of 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds — when Moynihan steps onto the football field, he is anything but average.

At linebacker, was a Dream Team selection by both The Detroit News and Free Press as a senior, when he racked up 151 tackles. He amassed 130 tackles and two interceptions in his junior year.mikem.jpg

He excelled as a fullback — 470 yards on 72 carries for eight touchdowns — in his senior year, but his heart was always that of a linebacker.

“I’ve been playing linebacker for 14 years now,” Moynihan said. “I’m all right in the other positions but I just feel more comfortable (at linebacker) — more at home.”

The former Allen Park standout played a total of four positions in his high school career: punter, fullback, halfback and linebacker.

Moynihan was a leader for the Jaguars his senior year and understands that a team is all about camaraderie and friendship, something he’s already started on with his fellow recruits — and the season hasn’t even begun.

“I made best friends with the guys,” Moynihan said of his fellow WSU teammates playing with him at Saturday’s MHSFCA All-Star Game on the East team. “I’ve been talking with them all week and I can tell that the game is going to be faster in college — better, faster players and harder hitting.”

Not only will the level of the players on the field be elevated, but so will his new head coach, Paul Winters.

“He seems like a very strong coach,” Moynihan said. “He knows what he’s talking about, knows what his goal is and is always striving for it.”

Winters is looking forward to Moynihan joining the Warrior ranks and helping him succeed.

“He may not be a prototype,” Winters said, “but I guarantee Mike Moynihan is going to surprise people.”

“Big” Joe Long will work for own legacy July 26, 2007

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Massive tackle draws from brother Jake, a top NFL prospect

By Kyle Stefan

Jake Long stands 6-foot-7 and weighs a massive 313 pounds.

His younger brother Joe is a more modest 6-7, 280.

After his junior season at Michigan, Jake was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Some scouting services tabbed him as the No. 1 offensive line prospect in this year’s NFL draft before he decided to return to U-M for his senior year.

Joe recently graduated from Lapeer East and has yet to play a down of college football.

By all accounts, Joe has a big legacy to live up to.

Tell him something he doesn’t already know. (more…)

WSU Notebook: Offseason was the Paul Winters show July 25, 2007

Posted by City Hoops in GLIAC, News, Wayne State.
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While Bell, Graham and Co. gear up for new season, Winters and staff have major success

By Kyle Stefan

For fear of becoming complacent, Paul Winters doesn’t like to pause and take stock of his accomplishments.

He’s too focused on what comes next.

Because he is self assuming and won’t take much of the credit, Winters probably won’t overemphasize the importance of this off-season for the Wayne State football program.

But there was more visible progress for WSU off the field – mirroring its on-field ascension – thanks to the vision and plan of its fourth-year head coach. (more…)