Willamette is Picked to Finish Third in NWC Preseason Poll

Bearcats Finished 2012 with an 8-2 Record, including 4-2 in the Conference

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has been picked to finish third in the Northwest Conference this year according to the 2013 NWC Football Preseason Poll. All of the NWC head coaches voted in the poll. Linfield College, which won the NWC title in 2012 with a 6-0 record, was chosen to repeat as champion.

Linfield received five of seven first place votes and  40 points in the poll. The Wildcats, who achieved an overall record of 11-1 last season, have won four consecutive NWC titles since Willamette took first place in 2008.

Pacific Lutheran University (7-3, 5-1 NWC) received second place in this year's poll with two first place votes and 34 points. Willamette followed in third place with 24 points. The Bearcats were 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the NWC in 2012.

Whitworth University (7-3, 3-3 NWC) was listed fourth with 20 points in the poll, narrowing edging out Pacific University (3-6, 2-4 NWC), which was fifth with 19 points. Rounding out the poll were Lewis & Clark College (4-5, 1-5 NWC) in sixth place with 11 points and the University of Puget Sound (0-9, 0-6 NWC) in seventh place with six points.

George Fox University will have players on campus this season, but will not play games until the fall of 2014.

Willamette led the NWC in passing offense, total offense, first downs, third-down conversions and red zone efficiency last season. The Bearcats averaged 355.0 passing yards per game and 498.1 total yards per contest. WU achieved 25.3 first downs per game.

The Bearcats converted 73 of 151 third downs (48%) during the season, while scoring on 43 of 50 red zone possessions (86%), including 38 touchdowns (76%).

In addition, Willamette was second in the NWC in rushing offense with 143.1 yards game and was second in scoring offense with 39.6 points per game. On defense, the Bearcats topped the conference with 80.3 tackles per game, ranked second in interceptions with 20 in 10 games and tied for second in the NWC with 30 sacks.

Quarterback Josh Dean (Sr., QB, Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) completed 273 of 422 passes (64.7%) on his way to leading the NWC with 3,345 passing yards (334.5 yards per game) as a junior last fall. He also led the conference with 34 touchdown passes.

Running back Dylan Jones (Jr., Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS) ranked second in the NWC with 716 rushing yards (71.6 yards per game) as a sophomore last season, while Terrell Malley (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS), now a senior, averaged 8.4 yards per running attempt.

Dean, Jones and Malley received Second Team All-NWC recognition.

Jack Nelson (Jr., ILB, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) returns for his junior year being named First Team All-NWC. He led the Willamette defense with 72 total tackles, including 45 unassisted tackles, in 2012.

Tyson Giza (Sr., CB, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) was chosen Second Team All-NWC last season after intercepting four passes, breaking up a team-high seven passes, and earning 25 total tackles (18 solo). He averaged 21.0 yards on 22 kickoff returns. He is a senior on the team this fall.

Head Coach Glen Fowles is in his second season as the leader of the Bearcats with an 8-2 career record. He is entering his 17th year on the WU football coaching staff.

Kelly Bills, the new offensive coordinator, is in his first year on the Willamette coaching staff. Nate Naggi, in his ninth season as the defensive coordinator, is in his 10th year on the coaching staff.

The Bearcats will open the season on Friday, Sept. 6 with a home game against Hardin-Simmons University. Kickoff at McCulloch Stadium is set for 7 p.m. (PDT). Overall, Willamette will play six of its nine regular season games at home.

2013 NWC Football Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Linfield (5), 40 points, 11-1 overall, 6-0 NWC in 2012
2. Pacific Lutheran (2), 34 points, 7-3, 5-1 NWC
3. Willamette, 24 points, 8-2, 4-2 NWC
4. Whitworth, 20 points, 7-3, 3-3 NWC
5. Pacific, 19 points, 3-6, 2-4 NWC
6. Lewis & Clark, 11 points, 4-5, 1-5 NWC
7. Puget Sound, 6 points, 0-9, 0-6 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on a 7-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his own team.

Tyson Giza averaged 21.0 yards per kickoff return in 2012.

Tyson Giza averaged 21.0 yards per kickoff return in 2012.