Willamette Football 2010 Season Review

Bearcat Earn 7-3 Record while Playing Five Nationally-Ranked Teams

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University football team played one of the nation’s most challenging schedules in 2010, as the Bearcats took on five nationally-ranked teams during the 10-game regular season. The schedule also was challenging due to six road games with just four games at McCulloch Stadium.

Willamette faced top NCAA Division III teams in the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (ranked #16 when the game was played), Hardin-Simmons University (#14), Linfield College (#16, #9 in final poll) and Pacific Lutheran University (#19) – all on the road. Willamette’s only home game against a nationally-ranked opponent was on Sept. 18 against Southern Oregon University (#24) from the NAIA.

Making the schedule even more impressive was the pair of back-to-back lengthy road trips to start the season. The Bearcats opened the schedule with a game at Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Sept. 5. WU returned from Wisconsin, only to leave later in the week to take on Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, Texas, on Sept. 12.

Even with a difficult schedule, the Bearcats finished the season with a 7-3 overall record, including 4-2 in the Northwest Conference (3rd place). Willamette earned impressive wins over two nationally-ranked opponents, as the Bearcats defeated UW-Stevens Point, 33-14, and downed Southern Oregon, 42-24.

The Willamette offense rolled up 4,166 total yards (416.6 per game) and scored 371 points (37.1 avg.). Out of 236 teams in NCAA Division III, WU ranked 22nd in scoring and 35th in total offense.  Willamette was able to score so many points in part because opponents struggled to stop both the rushing game and the passing attack.

When UW-Stevens Point worked to limit the passing game, Willamette rushed for 277 yards against the Pointers in the season opener. One week later, when Hardin-Simmons committed to stopping the Bearcats’ rushing attack, Willamette passed for 289 yards.

The Bearcats ranked 19th in the nation in rushing offense, with 236.3 rushing yards per game. Willamette gained over 300 rushing yards against Southern Oregon, Pacific University, Whitworth University and Lewis & Clark College. WU also featured an accurate passing attack that ranked ninth in Division III in passing efficiency with a 164.2 rating.

Offense Gains 4,166 Yards, Rushes for 2,363

Leading Willamette’s running game was Terrell Malley (So., TB), who carried the ball 77 times for 628 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing the final two games due to injury. Malley averaged 8.2 yards per carry for the highest average in the NWC in 2010.

Four other Bearcats each ran for at least 200 yards during the season. They were Chad Pollard (Jr., FL) with 265 yards, Matt Williams (So., FL) with 208, Jamiere Abney (Sr., TB) with 208 and Jose Green (Sr., TB) with 200.

Eleven players had at least one carry of 20 or more yards and 14 players scored at least one rushing touchdown. Willamette averaged a solid 5.1 yards per carry as a team.

The passing game also benefited from standout performances. Quarterback Brian Widing (So.) completed 85 of 135 passes (63.0%) for 1,455 yards and 14 touchdowns. His passing efficiency rating of 178.8 led the NWC.  As a team, Willamette threw 16 touchdown passes during the season.

Senior wide receiver Scott Schoettgen was the most common target for Widing and the back-up quarterbacks. Schoettgen caught a team-high 49 passes for 960 yards (19.6 avg.) and scored 13 touchdowns. He concluded his four-year career as a Bearcat with 129 catches for 2,445 yards and a school record 36 touchdowns. He averaged 19.0 yards per reception during his career.

In addition, Schoettgen tied the school record for pass receptions in a single game when he hauled in four touchdown passes on Nov. 6, 2010 against Lewis & Clark College.

Jake Knecht (So., WR) caught 13 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 19.7 yards per carry. Knecht also contributed on special teams by returning 20 kickoffs for 414 yards (20.7 avg.) and by returning eight punts.

Bearcats Provide Strong Special Teams Play

Knecht was one of three Bearcats who averaged at least 20 yards per kickoff return. Malley provided Willamette with 23.8 yards on nine returns and Green averaged 23.5 yards on six returns. Overall, WU gained an average of 21.2 yards per kickoff return.

Punting duties went to Mitchell Rowan, a junior, who averaged 35.6 yards per punt while placing 13 kicks inside the 20-yard line. His efforts also forced opponents to fair catch nine punts. He had no touchbacks and none of his kicks were blocked.

Kyle Derby (Fr., PK) handled most of the place-kicking. He converted 33 of 36 extra points and made 3 of 5 field goals. Rowan was the team’s kickoff specialist and averaged 59.0 yards per kick.

Defense Allows only 94.7 Rushing Yards Per Game

Willamette’s defense, led by Ralph Pineda (Sr., ILB) and Walter Robinson II (Sr., DE, allowed just 94.7 yards per game on the ground to rank 23rd in the nation. WU also ranked 39rth with 25 quarterback sacks (2.5 per game).

Pineda led all Bearcats with 84 total tackles, including 34 solo stops and 50 assists. In two seasons after transferring from San Jose State University, Pineda achieved 165 tackles. He was named Third Team All-America and First Team All-West Region in 2009. He was Second Team All-West Region selection in 2010.

Robinson contributed 59 total tackles on 23 solo tackles and 36 assists. He was the team leader in tackles for losses with 13.0 (74 yards lost) and ranked first in quarterback sacks with 5.0 (34 yards lost).

Harmon Bruno (Jr., OLB) was third on the team in tackles with 51. He registered 4.5 tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks. Arlin Taylor (Sr., S) ranked fourth with 43 tackles, while intercepting four passes. Reed Warner (So., OLB) followed in fifth with 41 tackles. Warner had 5.5 tackles for losses, 3.0 sacks and a team-high three fumble recoveries.

Taylor and Warner each scored a touchdown on defense. Taylor returned a fumble 19 yards for a touchdown against Southern Oregon. Warner reached the end zone on a 12-yard interception return versus Menlo College.

The Bearcats achieved a +11 advantage in turnovers to rank 17th in the nation (+1.1  per game). WU recovered 11 fumbles and intercepted 15 passes. Taylor’s four interceptions led the team. Pineda and Cody Pastorino (So., S) each grabbed three interceptions.

Seven Bearcats Earn First Team All-NWC Honors

First Team All-NWC honors went to Kenny Miller (Jr., C), Scott Schoettgen (Sr., WR), Walter Robinson II (Sr., DE), Juan Alvarado (Jr., DT), Ralph Pineda (Sr., ILB), Harmon Bruno (Jr., OLB) and Arlin Taylor (Sr., S).

Players earning Second Team All-NWC recognition were Luis Guerra (Sr., OG), Dennis Plzak (Sr., OG), Terrell Malley (So., TB), Ryan Bourke (Jr., DE), Cody Pastorino (So., S). Honorable Mention All-NWC selections from Willamette were Jamiere Abney (Jr., TB), Will Pohl (Sr., TE), Aaron Cavette (Sr., FB) and Dominic David (So., S).

Speckman Improves Record to 78-53

Head Coach Mark Speckman completed his 13th season (1998-present) with a career record of 78-53 (.595). Including three seasons a WU’s offensive coordinator before becoming the head coach, Speckman has helped the Bearcats earn a combined record of 106-58-1 (.645).

Terrell Malley averaged 8.2 yards per carry and led the Bearcats with 628 rushing yards.

Terrell Malley averaged 8.2 yards per carry and led the Bearcats with 628 rushing yards.