Willamette Heads to Texas for Game at East Texas Baptist

Matchup of Undefeated Teams Starts at 5 p.m. PST

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University Bearcats, 2-0 overall and receiving votes in both the D3football.com and AFCA Coaches Top 25 poll, face the East Texas Baptist University Tigers, also 2-0, at Ornelas Stadium in Marshall, Texas, today, Saturday, Sept. 28. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (PDT).

You can follow all of the action between the Bearcats and the Tigers through a Live Audio Webcast on the Bearcat Network. All of WU's football games in 2013 are being webcast, with veteran play-by-play man Mike Allegre on the call. Former Willamette wide receiver Jake Turner will provide color commentary for this week's broadcast.

In addition, Live Stats from the game will be available on the East Texas Baptist website.

Today's matchup features two of the nation's most potent offenses. East Texas Baptist ranks first in the nation in passing offense, averaging 435.5 yards per game. The Tigers' quarterbacks have thrown only one interception this season, earning victories over Austin College (52-34) and at Southwestern University (56-10).

ETBU's powerful passing attack has propelled the Tigers' to average 647.0 yards of total offense per game, good enough to rank second nationally.

The Bearcats, however, rank 21st in pass efficiency defense, having given up just two passing touchdowns this year. In Willamette's season-opening win over Hardin-Simmons University, the Bearcats held HSU starting quarterback Josh Christian to just 15 completions on 37 attempts for 167 yards. WU also forced three interceptions.

Jack Nelson (Jr., ILB, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) leads the Bearcats with 26 tackles this year, while Brendan Manion (Jr., OLB, Los Altos, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS) has contribued 20 tackles, including four tackles for loss.

Tyson Giza (Sr., CB, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) leads WU's secondary with eight tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups on the year. Giza has also scored a touchdown as a kickoff returner this year.

Offensively, Willamette ranks 13th in Division III in passing yards at 334.5 yards per game. At 470.5 total yards per game, WU's offense ranks 35th in the country.

Quarterback Josh Dean (Sr., Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) is 10th in the nation in passing efficiency. Dean, who last year set Willamette’s single season records for passes completed, passes attempted, passing yards, and touchdowns in one season, is 47 of 65 this season for 669 yards and six touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception.

Top targets for Dean have been wide receivers De'Zhon Grace (Fr., Castro Valley, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) and Derek Traeger (Jr., Mount Angel, OR/John F. Kennedy HS). Grace leads the Bearcats with 16 receptions for 259 yards and one touchdown. Traeger has achieved 150 yards on 13 catches to go with one touchdown.

Beau Smith (Jr., WR, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) ranks third on the team with five catches for 111 yards. Smith caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Willamette's 33-28 victory over Sewanee on Sept. 21 at McCulloch Stadium.

Out of the backfield, the Bearcats' primary threat has been Terrell Malley (Sr., RB/WR, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS). Malley, who also has a kickoff return for a touchdown, has netted 94 yards on 20 carries.

In a notable contrast from the weather in the Willamette Valley today, the temperature in Marshall at kickoff is forecast for 82 degrees, with 60% humidity and scattered thunderstorms.

Willamette's defense, led by Jack Nelson's 26 tackles, will be put to the test by East Texas Baptist's potent offense.

Willamette's defense, led by Jack Nelson's 26 tackles, will be put to the test by East Texas Baptist's potent offense.