Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field -
Don't be surprised to see plenty of fresh faces on the field Saturday as Cumberland University opens the 2015 football season against 11-ranked Georgetown.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Nokes-Lasater Field with radio coverage beginning at 1 p.m. on WANT FM-98.9.
Donnie Suber starts his third season as Cumberland head coach with a mixture of veteran and rookie players in his two-deep.
"We've started out with a bunch of injuries, so depth is going to be a concern," Suber said, "especially in the secondary and at linebacker.
"We're pretty thin. I think we can hold up for a while -- as long as we don't lose anyone else."
Suber plans to start a true freshman at corner in Jeremy Williams from Hoover, AL and a transfer from Carson-Newman at safety in Tyler Stewart -- a redshirt sophomore.
Leading the CU defense are Justus Dauscha (Murfreesboro Blackman) and Nathan Jernigan (Eagleville), both First Team honorees and Cayman Russell (Hendersonville), Second Team - on the USA NAIA Division Pre-Season All-American teams.
Defensive end Dauscha registered 69 tackles with 16 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks from his defensive end position last season while linebacker Jernigan led the Bulldogs in tackles for the second straight year, finishing with 99 stops along with eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Russell, a defensive tackle, registered 76 tackles with 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, adding three blocked extra points.
Offensive line starter Nick Bodden (soph, Hoover, AL) has been out with mononucleosis while transfer running back Brandon Byrd from Marshall has battled an elbow injury.
"We've got a couple of offensive linemen who we're watching pretty closely due to concussion issues and if that weren't enough -- at least two skill guys are being treated from strep throat,' Suber said.
Offensively, look for the Bulldogs to be a quick tempo team under the direction of new offensive coordinator Klay Koester.
Wide receivers / tight ends coach at Eastern Kentucky for the past five seasons, Koester will go with redshirt junior Justin Snyder at quarterback.
Snyder, who pressed at Johnson City Science Hill, saw extensive action late last season after injures sidelined CU's co-starters Reed Gurchiek and Broc Loveless.
"Justin knows the system and has played well in the preseason," Suber said. "Klay has simplified some of the things we're doing on offense -- and that's helped Justin with his reads."
Snyder's backup will be true freshman Joseph Rushin -- a dynamic run / pass threat from Ola High School in McDonough, Ga.
Given injuries to CU's backs, don't be surprised to see Rushin and Snyder line up side by side in the same backfield.
Redshirt junior wide Michael Green (Nashville McGavock) returns as a starter along with Trevon Jones, a redshirt sophomore from Atlanta.
Wilson Central graduate Brandon Mallory will start at tightend with Will Boler (6-6, 328,senior) and Zac Carter (5-10, 307, redshirt sophomore) anchoring the offensive line.
CU's season-opener will serve as the program's Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness game.