THIBODAUX, La. – The Nicholls State University football team will kick off its 42nd season in program history when the Colonels head to the Northwest to play No. 3 Oregon on Saturday, Aug. 31, in Autzen Stadium.
The matchup against Oregon, a FBS program out of the Pac-12 Conference, will be nationally televised on the newly launched Fox Sports 1, with kickoff slated for 3 p.m. (CST). The game can also be listened to live via the Colonel Sports Radio Network, which includes KLRZ 100.3 FM, KLEB 1600 AM and LA 106.3 Rock Hits Radio.
Saturday will be the first meeting between the programs. The Colonels hold a 0-1 record against the Pac-12 after Oregon State defeated Nicholls 77-3 in last year's season finale. Saturday's game will not only be the Colonels' second consecutive game against a Pac-12 school, but it will also give Nicholls back-to-back ranked FBS opponents for the first time in program history as OSU held a No. 17/16 ranking last season.
The Colonels will have a daunting task ahead of them as Oregon carries a No. 3 preseason ranking in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches' Polls. Since 2000, Nicholls is 2-18 against FBS schools and has lost the last 11 meetings. The last victory came at Rice in 2007 when Nicholls came away with a 16-14 win.
Nicholls is 21-20 all-time in its season openers. The Colonels have lost their last four openers on the road - all against FBS programs - including last season's 9-3 loss against FBS South Alabama.
The Colonels bring back 57 letterwinners, nine starters on offense and eight on defense. However, Nicholls will have a new quarterback under center as 2012 starter Landry Klann will miss the season with an injury. Listed at No. 1 on the depth chart is Beaux Hebert, who will be making his first career start. Hebert has played in 10 games over the last two seasons, throwing for 569 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
In the backfield, running back Marcus Washington is expected to be the bell cow for the Colonels. Washington had a strong junior campaign, ranking fourth in the Southland in rushing yards per game (59.8), accumulating 598 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
The top returning pass-catchers for the Colonels will be two-time All-Southland tight end Nick Scelfo (22 rec., 300 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Josh Hanberry (22 rec., 308 yards). On the offensive line, all five projected starters – Abasi Salimu, Rafe Plaisance, Brandon Holmes, Caleb Cline and Eric Alt – have starts under their belts.
Leading the defense will be the senior safety trio of Jordan Hanberry, T.J. Lumar and Siegan Vergenal. Vergenal is the second-leading returning tackler from 2012 where he racked up 50 tackles and three forced fumbles. Also in the secondary, cornerbacks B.J. Lewis and Byron Cobb will get the start against the Ducks after each recorded 47 tackles and five pass breakups last season. In addition, Cobb was one of nine Colonels to record an interception in 2012.
At linebacker, Chris Bermond will look to build off his junior year where he finished second on the team with 64 tackles. The other two spots in the 3-3-5 will be occupied by juniors Ryan Bruno and Davin Bovie. The front three will be Lorenza Young (28 tackles, 3.5 TFL) Edet Udoh and Cole Frazier.
Andrew Dolan returns for his fourth year as the placekicker. Dolan received preseason All-Southland honors after making 10 of 14 field goals a year ago, including 7 of his last 8. Taking over the punting duties is former ULM Warhawk Conner Fryoux.
Along with Fryoux, several newcomers are expected to see playing time against Oregon. Tulsa transfer quarterback Kalen Henderson took plenty of snaps with the first team over the last few weeks and is listed at No. 2 on the depth chart. On defense, transfer Ronald Tyler will backup Cobb at one of the cornerback positions.
Oregon heads into the opener winners of its last two, including a 35-17 win against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, and has won its last eight home openers. While the Ducks bring back a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Marcus Mariota (2,677 passing yards, 32 TDs) and running back De'Anthony Thomas (701 rushing yards, 11 TDs), a new coach will be at the helm, Mark Helfrich. Helfrich is no stranger to the program though as he acted as offensive coordinator for the past four seasons, leading the offense to an average of 501.1 yards and 44.7 points during his tenure.
Although Oregon is known for its exciting, quick-strike offense, the defense has held its own, finishing in the top half of the Pac-12 in three of the main statistical categories - rushing, passing and scoring defense. While the Ducks lost three all-conference performers from last season, defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu returns after leading the Pac-12 in passes defended (16) and forced fumbles (6).
Saturday's game will be the first of three straight FBS opponents for the Colonels with Western Michigan (Sept. 7) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 14) up next. Nicholls' home opener will be on Sept. 21 against NAIA Langston. Season tickets are now available and can be purchased on NichollsTickets.com or by calling the Nicholls Athletics Ticket Office at 985-448-4790.
Nicholls vs. Oregon Notes
Radio Coverage: 100.3 FM KLRZ (Larose, La.); 1600 AM KLEB (Golden Meadow, La.); LA 106.3 Rock Hits Radio (Houma, La.)
Broadcast Team: Mike Wagenheim (play by play), Seth Thomas (color), Erik Solberg (sideline)
Colonels on the Internet: www.klrzfm.com, www.la1063.com
TV Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Broadcast Team: Justin Kutcher (play by play), James Bates (color), Brady Poppinga (sideline)
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