The Towson-Northwestern game will be televised by The Big Ten Network with Matt Rosen, Mark Campbell and Tony McGee calling the action. To find out if your cable or satellite provider carries the game, CLICK HERE. If you are looking for a Tiger friendly atmosphere to watch the game with fellow Tiger fans, you can view the game at the Burkshire Marriott, Bill Bateman's of Towson and the Greene Turtle in Towson.
The game will also be broadcast back to the Baltimore area on WNST-Radio (1570-AM) with Spiro Morekas and Tom Judd calling the action.
Northwestern is the second NCAA FBS team that Towson has ever faced and this marks the second straight year that the Tigers have opened the season against an NCAA FBS team. In last season's opener, Towson dropped a 41-13 decision to Navy in Annapolis before a crowd of 31,613.
A member of the Big Ten Conference, Northwestern may be the best team that Towson has played in its 40-year history. Led by All-American defensive end Corey Wootton, the Wildcats posted a 9-4 record in 2008 and faced Missouri in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Wootton is one of eight returning starters on a veteran defensive unit. Senior defensive back Brad Phillips, an All-Big Ten selection, made 109 tackles and intercepted three passes last season. Coach Pat Fitzgerald will also be relying on senior quarterback Mike Kafka to lead the offense.
The fourth head coach in Towson history, Coach Ambrose understands the challenge that his team faces in the season opener. He says, "We are going to have a fight on our hands every week. On our 11-game schedule, six of the teams are ranked in the Top 25. Northwestern is ranked in the Top 25 at the major college level. Plus, five of our conference games will be played against Top 25 teams, including the defending national champion, Richmond. The Colonial Athletic Association is the Southeastern Conference of FCS football.
Ambrose adds, "I can't make any predictions but I will guarantee you that we will fight for 60 minutes every week. When you're in a fight, you can do one of two things. You can either lie down and take it or you can come out swinging. We plan to come out swinging."
The Tigers' new coach finds it ironic that he will be coaching his first game at Northwestern. He says, "I was born in Chicago and lived there for the first few years of my life. So, that's a coincidence. I will also be coaching against my one my best friends in the coaching business, Pat Fitzgerald."
"Fitzy and I have been friends since he was a Graduate Assistant at Maryland and he has done an outstanding job at Northwestern. He has a solid foundation there and Northwestern is going to be good for a long time. He is an outstanding coach and I know Northwestern is going to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten for years to come."
The Tigers, who were 3-9 last season, will be taking a very young team into their season opener. Coach Ambrose has only nine seniors on the roster and one of them, defensive end Brady Smith (Loyola Blakefield H.S./Manchester, Md.), is a transfer from Boston College who will be playing his first game for Towson this week.
Tackle Dan Bridges (Francis Scott Key H.S./Union Bridge, Md.), linebacker Alex Butt (Hereford H.S./Parkton, Md.), wide receiver Casey Cegles (Eastern H.S./Ocean City, N.J.), tight end John Godlasky (Hershey H.S./Hummelstown, Pa.), wide receiver David Newsom (Elizabeth H.S./Elizabeth, N.J.), punter Bill Shears (Mathews County H.S./Susan, Va.), wide receiver Tamba Tongu (Hershey School/Rockville, Md.) and tight end Wes White (Urbana H.S./Adamstown, Md.) are the Tigers' returning seniors.
"Having nineseniors is a pretty small class," admits Ambrose. "This is a group that has accepted the challenge that we presented to them. They have made themselves responsible for things greater than themselves. Their hard work and commitment has been tremendous and they have been good role models for the younger players in our program."
When the Tigers take the field at Northwestern, they will have an entirely new look on defense as new Defensive Coordinator Matt Hachmann has installed a 4-3 defense. Traditionally,Towson has played a 3-4 defense. Butt is the Tigers' only senior returning starter. Last season, he was third on the team with 64 tackles.
The strength of the Tiger defense could be the secondary. Juniors Jeremy Gardner (Courtland H.S./Spotsylvania, Va.) and Ollie Thomas (Potomac H.S./Oxon Hill, Md.) return as the cornerbacks. Gardner made 30 tackles in ten games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Thomas started all 12 games last year and ranked among the Colonial Athletic Association leaders with ten passes defended. He also made 57 tackles to finish fourth on the team. Sophomore Danny Collins (Council Rock H.S./Newtown, Pa.), who returns for his second year as the Tigers' starting free safety, made 52 tackles last season. Junior Raymond White (Snow Hill H.S./Salisbury, Md.) left the team at mid-season in 2008. However, he asked the new coaching staff for another chance and did a great job in the Spring. He will be the starter at strong safety.
Bridges, who has started 32 of a possible 34 career games, is the leader of a veteran offensive line. The 6-6, 290-pound Bridges is a returning starter at right tackle, a spot he has occupied since his freshman year. Sophomore Henry Glackin (Solanco H.S./Quarryville, Pa.) was a starter as a true freshman and he will be the starting left tackle. Junior Chuck Taylor (Hamilton West H.S./Hamilton, N.J.), a 6-3, 345-pound transfer student from New Mexico State, will start at left guard while junior Chris Ritter (Fort Hill H.S./Cumberland, Md.) is back at right guard. Junior center Steve Jordan (Central York H.S./York, Pa.), a 6-3, 280-pound veteran, completes the offensive line.
Cegles and Newsom lead the Tigers' receiving corps but the question remains who will be throwing the ball to them. Cegles caught 36 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns last season while Newsom had 41 catches for 484 yards and two TD's. A third-year starter at tight end, Godlasky caught 19 passes for 213 yards and four touchdowns.
For the first time since October 14, 2006, Sean Schaefer, '08 will not be the Tigers' starting quarterback. Schaefer, who threw for a school record 11,644 yards and 76 touchdowns in his career, started 44 of the last 45 games for Towson.
If Coach Ambrose knows who will be the Tigers' starting quarterback, it is a well-guarded secret. In fact, the Tigers list three names as the starting quarterback on their depth chart. All three of the candidates have never played a down of college football. Brian Potts (Caravel Academy/Middletown, Del.), a "red shirt" freshman, is competing with a pair of newcomers, Peter Athens (Huntingtown H.S./Huntingtown, Md.) and Tommy Chroniger (DeMatha H.S./Crofton, Md.), for the starting spot. The decision may not be made until gametime.
TIGER TALES: In a study of contrasts, Northwestern is opening its 122nd season of college football while Towson is playing its 41st season opener ... The Tigers have a 27-13 record in season openers ... When Towson opens on the road, the Tigers have a 5-9 record ... After opening the season at Northwestern, the Tigers will be idle until Saturday, September 19 when they host Coastal Carolina at 7:00 p.m. at Johnny Unitas® Stadium.