ROAD START: Butler will begin the 2008 season at Albion College on Saturday, Sept. 6, and the game will start a history-making run for the Bulldogs. The 1 p.m. (ET) contest at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium in Albion, Mich., will kickoff the first 12-game schedule in Butler's 119 years of collegiate football. Butler has played an 11-game slate in each of the past five seasons, but the schedule was increased this year when Campbell was added to the Pioneer Football League. The Bulldogs will play eight PFL games and four non-league contests in the upcoming season. Butler, beginning its third season under head coach Jeff Voris, has improved its win total in each of the past two seasons. The Bulldogs were unbeaten in non-league games last year, including a 42-14 victory over Albion in the 2007 season-opener at the Butler Bowl. That win was Butler's first victory in a season-opener since 2002. Albion owns three straight victories over the Bulldogs at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium, including a 31-10 decision in Butler's last visit in 2006.
Butler is 6-4 in September under head coach Jeff Voris.
EXPERIENCE FACTOR: The Bulldogs return 30 letterwinners from last year's 4-7 club, including 14 starters. The returnees include Butler's leading rusher from 2007 (Scott Gray), the team's top three scorers from a year ago (Gray, Jordan Quiroz and Matt Kobli) and the squad's top two tacklers (Derek Guggenberger and Mike Bennett). Ten of Butler's returnees were in the starting lineup when the Bulldogs faced Albion at the Butler Bowl a year ago.
RUSH JOB: Sophomore Scott Gray didn't start last year's game against Albion, but he still turned in one of the memorable performances in Butler football annals. Gray scored a touchdown on a four-yard run on his first collegiate carry less than five minutes into the game. He picked up a first down on his second carry and then added a 10-yard touchdown run on his third attempt! The Butler tailback added two more touchdowns in the first half and finished his first 30 minutes in a Butler uniform with seven carries and four touchdowns! Gray added another touchdown in the third quarter to give Butler a 35-0 advantage. His five touchdowns were one shy of Butler's single game record, and he became just the second player in Butler football history to score 30 points in a game!
Scott Gray led the Pioneer Football League in scoring in 2007.
TEAM LEADERS: Head coach Jeff Voris has tabbed seniors Mike Bennett and Rob Noel to serve as captains for the 2008 Bulldogs. Bennett, a linebacker, has played in all 33 games of his varsity career at Butler. He's started every game for the past two seasons. Noel, an offensive lineman, also has played in all 33 Butler games over the past three seasons, including 18 straight as a starter.
FIRST CALL: Sophomore quarterback Matt Kobli didn't play against Albion a year ago, but he'll get the starting nod when the Bulldogs take the field this weekend. Kobli started Butler's final two games a year ago, and he wound up as the Bulldogs' third-leading scorer with four touchdowns. He passed for 465 yards, hitting 54 of 98 (.551) pass attempts, and he finished fourth on the team in rushing with 110 yards.
FRONT FIVE: Head coach Jeff Voris can call on all five starters from last year's offensive line. Senior Rob Noel (6-3, 300) and sophomore Donny Gilmore (6-3, 290) each started all 11 Butler games in 2007, while junior Brian Crable (6-4, 250) started the Bulldogs final 10 contests. Sophomore Mike Staniewicz (6-6, 280) started 10 of 11 Butler games a year ago, and sophomore center Ryan Secrist (6-4, 265) moved into the Bulldogs' lineup for the final eight contests. Also back are senior tight ends Luke Johnson and Eric Notestine, both part-time starters in 2007.
CLEANUP HITTERS: Butler's defensive unit features last year's top two tacklers, junior Derek Guggenberger and senior Mike Bennett. Guggenberger didn't start a game in 2007, but still wound up leading the Bulldogs with 68 total tackles. He shared the team lead in quarterback sacks and finished fourth on the squad in tackles for loss. Bennett led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss (9) and finished second on the team in total tackles (57).
Senior Mike Bennett enters his final season with 169 career tackles.
FOOT-BALL: Senior Jordan Quiroz will handle Butler's placekicking chores for the fourth straight season, and he enters his final campaign ranked in the "Top 20" on Butler's all-time scoring list with 121 career points. Quiroz was Butler's second-leading scorer in 2007 with 53 points, and he ranked second in the PFL in field goals with nine. He hit 26 of 29 PAT kick attempts, including six of six against Albion.
•Butler's four-game winning streak to open the 2007 season was Butler's longest win streak since 1994. The Bulldogs finished with an unbeaten non-league record for the first time since 1983, Butler's first NCAA playoff year.
•The Bulldogs rolled up 427 yards in total offense (242 rush, 185 pass) against Albion last year. That total was Butler's second-highest total in 2007.
•Junior running back Ricky Trujillo came off the bench against Albion last year and led the Bulldogs in rushing with a career-high 92 yards on 17 carries. Trujillo finished the season as Butler's third-leading rusher.
•Sophomore defensive back Tadd Dombart had a memorable collegiate debut in last year's game against Albion. He returned a punt for 54 yards the first time he touched the ball, and that run ended up as the longest punt return by a Butler player in 2007. The second time he touched the ball later in the game, he returned a pass interception for 42 yards and a touchdown! Dombart led the Bulldogs in both punt returns (11.7 ypr) and pass interceptions (3) last season.
•The Bulldogs return four players who started at cornerback in 2007. Seniors Ryan Schmidtz and Mark Kwiatkowski were Butler starters for the first seven games of the season, before injuries sidelined both. Sophomore Jacob Fritz and Dombart finished the season as Butler's starters.
•Sophomore linebacker Derek Bradford recorded his first career pass interception against Albion last year.
•Senior Dan Bohrer finished second on the team in pass receiving last year with 36 catches for 389 yards. He shared Butler's receiving lead against Albion with four catches for 41 yards.
•Junior Spencer Summerville will pull double duty for the Bulldogs again in 2008. He earned the starting nod at strong safety, and he'll again handle kick return duties. Summerville ranked fifth in the PFL in kick returns (23.5) last season.
•Sophomore Rob Blevins emerged from spring drills as the leading candidate at both free safety and punter. Blevins played in seven games last fall as a defensive back.
•The last time Butler opened a season with a road win was
1999, when the Bulldogs won at Albion, 27-20 in overtime.