NMU Wildcat Football kicks off Saturday

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MARQUETTE, Mich.  --  The Northern Michigan University football team kicks of the 2017 season by taking on Angelo State University in San Angelo Texas at 7 p.m. eastern Saturday night.

The contest can be followed using live stats and video is also available through the nmuwildcats.com website.

Follow @NMU_Wildcats on twitter for continued updates throughout the game. 

Game Notes:

A fresh, new star:

The Wildcats begin a new era as Kyle Nystrom takes over the program. Nystrom brings with him a staff that features just two holdovers from recent seasons. The NMU offense will also feature a new starter behind center, as Shaye Brown, who owns eight school records, graduated. Nystrom will look to last season's leading rusher, junior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) to guide the offense this season. Mayon finished with 1064 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the squad will consist of just three starters from last season's team, seniors Darryl Williams (Cooper City, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas)Pat Ryan (Linden, Mich.) and Jalen Brooks (Macomb, Mich./Romeo). Williams and Ryan return after leading the defense in tackles. Brooks eyes improving his 5.5 tackles for loss last season and will be looked at to guide a young defensive front.

In total, NMU features just 10 starters from last season, including sophomore punter John Kwiecinski(Plymouth, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's). Kwiecinski posted a 42.3 average and eight punts that went more than 50 yards.

Rams at a Glance:

Angelo State is receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association Poll after defeating McKendree University 42-2 last week. The Rams out rushed the Bearcats by 268 yards, rushing for 255 while holding McKendree to -13 rushing yards. ASU ended the game 2 of 3 on 4th down conversions and 4 of 5 in the Red-Zone.

 

Looking To Run:

Mayon became the first Wildcat since 2009 to reach double digits in rushing touchdowns in a single campaign, and the first since 2007 to achieve 1,000 rushing yards in a season for Northern Michigan. The Junior's 13 rushing touchdowns were the most in one year since 2002.

Tackle Leaders Return:

Williams and Ryan  enter their senior seasons after leading the Wildcats in tackles last year. Williams led the team with 92 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. Ryan finished 2016 with 67 tackles from his safety position.

Nystrom Connection:

Head Coach Kyle Nystrom is joined by his father Buck Nystrom. Buck Nystrom begins his third stint on the Northern Michigan sidelines. The elder Nystrom began his first tenure at NMU in 1975, allowing the younger Nystrom to get a glimpse of Northern Michigan from a young age. Kyle even began his career as a graduate assistant with the Wildcats in 1988.

Receiver Experience:

NMU returns three of their top four pass catchers from last year. Seniors Julian Crum (Country Club Hills, Ill./St. Rita of Cascia), (55 catches, 389 yards), and Jaranta Lewis (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay) (39 catches, 400 yards) and junior Walter Jackson (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Flanagan/Lindenwood) (36 catches, 275 yards) will look to elevate the Wildcat aerial attack.

NMU versus Angelo State:

Northern Michigan and Angelo State have faced each other just twice, most recently last season in a 47-41 triple overtime matchup. Trailing 20-3 early in the third quarter, the Wildcats scored three touchdowns in just six minutes to help send the game to extra time.

In 1987, NMU bested the Rams 23-20 in overtime of the NCAA Quarterfinals.


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