The Bears (0-0) will march north to face Army in the season opener on Friday (Aug. 30) at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights (0-0) enter the 2013 season under the leadership of head coach Rich Ellerson. Army completed the 2012 season with a 2-10 overall record. Morgan State posted a 3-8 record last season and was 2-6 in MEAC play. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his 12th year as head coach of the Bears. Game time at Michie Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised live by the CBS Sports Network.
THE BEARS-BLACK KNIGHTS MATCHUP
• Morgan State and Army will meet for the first time in history.
• MSU will enter the 2013 season with a number of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors.
• The Bears return its top receiver from last season in Andrew King … King, a Columbia (Md.) product, had 25 catches for 334 yards (13.4) and scored a pair of touchdowns as a true sophomore.
• The Bears backfield lost All-MEAC running back Travis “Juice” Davidson to graduation, however the backfield is loaded with talented young players like Lamont Brown,Tracy Martin and Orlando Johnson who will compete for the starting RB spot.
• The returning quarterback duo of Seth Higgins and Robert Council combined for 1,560 passing yards (140-of-301) and five touchdowns in 2012.
• Joe Rankin returns as a shutdown cornerback for the Bears and finished with 46 tackles and lead the MEAC with five picks in 2012.
• NT Demarco Bisbee leads a defensive line unit that returns 10 lettermen from last season … Bisbee posted 41 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and
3.5 sacks in 2012.
• LB Christopher Robinson was among the league leaders with 13.5 tackles for loss (No. 4), to go along with 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
• Chris Flowers helped lead the Bears to a No. 1 ranking in the MEAC in kickoff return avearge (23.0 avg) and his 27.8 kick return average ranked No. 8 in the FCS last season.
• The Bears added four new coaches to the 2013 staff … the new coaches are: Jerry Holmes (DC), Greg Gregory (OC), LeAndre Creamer (DB) and Marcus Gladden (OL).
BEARS OPEN 115th SEASON OF FOOTBALL SINCE 1898
Morgan State enters its 115th season of football, and the 12th under head coach Donald Hill-Eley.
FOR OPENERS … In MSU’s football history, the Bears have posted a 51-34 record in season-openers since 1930. Donald Hill-Eley has recorded a 6-6 mark in lid-lifters. Eddie P. Hurt, who was far-and-away the most successful MSU coach in season-opening contests. During his tenure in Baltimore, Hurt posted a 23-6 mark in contests that christened the season (since 1930). Currently MSU is on a stretch of winning nine of its last 20 opening games since 1989.NON-CONFERENCE GRADE … The Bears are14-20 (.411) overall in non-conference play under Donald Hill-Eley. The Bears will open the 2013 campaign with four consecutive road games against non-conference opponents, starting with Army (8/30), followed by trips to Robert Morris (9/7), Liberty (9/14) and Western Kentucky (9/21).
CAMPAIGNING FOR SUCCESS … The Bears enter 2013 looking to post their fourth winning season, all under Donald Hill-Eley, the most in over 30 years since Earl C. Banks posted 11 straight winning season from
TV APPEARANCES … Morgan State will be making a pair of national television appearances this fall. CBS Sports Network is scheduled to broadcast the Bears’ Aug. 30th matchup at Army (Michie Stadium), followed by MSU’s road contest against South Carolina State on Nov. 14th that will be aired by ESPNU.
OFFENSIVE NOTES … Morgan State will unveil its newly designed spread attack offensive formation Friday against Army for the first time. The offense is geared toward getting as many as six offensive players “in space” and making the defense have to account for all six…or try. Behind a rebuilt and reconditioned offensive line that features a pair of 11-game starters from 2012 with RT Karim Barton, and Clarence Swain moving from right guard to center. Morgan State’s go-to men will include:
• QB Seth Higgins, who completed 42-of-106 passes for 445 yards in 2012;
• QB Robert Council, completed 98-of-195 passes for 1115 yards and five TDs, and rushed for 302 yards on 80 carries;
• RB Lamont Brown III, who will start against Army as a redshirt-freshman;
• WR Andrew King, who led the team last year with 25 receptions for 334 yards (13.2 avg), including a pair of touchdowns;
• WR Chris Flowers, who averaged 12.4 yards per reception as a junior in 2012, will continue to be a threat to score as a return specialist (27.8 kick return avg);
• TE Nate Ingram had five receptions for 109 yards (21.8 avg) and a touchdown in just four games before leaving the 2012 season due to a broken ankle suffered in practice.
DEFENSIVE NOTES … The defensive line will be the foundation on this side of the ball, but solid play from a veteran secondary that has six players who have started in their career will be huge while the young linebacker starters get acclimated. Here’s a few to watch on defense:
• NT Demarco Bisbee is expected to anchor the line for the Bears up front, the 300-pound interior player had 41 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2012 as a redshirt-freshman;
• DB Joe Rankin, whose 5 interceptions and 11 pass defenses in 2012 was among the tops in the conference while starting all 11 games.
• LB Christopher Robinson, whose 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2012 led the team;
• DB Nate Ayers, who was the team’s fifth leading tackler with 50 stops last year, including three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
ARMY TIES … First-year MSU offensive coordinator Gordon “Greg” Gregory returns to the place where he not only formally coached, but was also a commissioned officer with the rank of captain from 1982-85. Gregory served as an assistant in several capacities at Army, beginning in 1982 when he was hired to work with Cadet receivers. Gregory moved to guide tight ends and was the junior varsity coach in 1984, beginning a two-season stint leading the program’s running backs the next fall. In 1987, Gregory was shifted to quarterbacks coach, becoming offensive coordinator in 1989 before being promoted to associate head coach in ’91. During his 16 seasons at Army, the Cadets advanced to four bowl games – the Cheery Bowl, Peach Bowl, Hancock Sun Bowl, and the Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl.
BEARS NAME TEAM CAPTAINS … The MSU Bears wrapped up the preseason by naming the team captains for the 2013 season. The leadership group is comprised of two seniors, OL Karim Barton (Los Angeles, Calif.) and CB Joe Rankin (Germantown, Md.); along with two juniors, LB Christopher Robinson (Baltimore, Md.) and WRAndrew King (Columbia, Md.). The captains were voted on by the team.
CHANGES … A few player have changed numbers and positions since Morgan State last took the field for a game. Among the more notable changes:
• QB Seth Higgins is now wearing jersey No. 10;
• DB Nate Ayers is now wearing jersey No. 22;
• LB Ta’Quon Jackson is now wearing jersey No. 9;
• Former tight end Heleaince Gates has switched to the other side of the ball as a starting defensive end.
• Former right guard Clarence Swain has moved into the starting center position.
• Andrew Mitchell was moved from the o-line to d-line as a defensive end.