Drake University Athletics issued the following announcement on Aug. 29.
The Drake University football team opens the 2018 season against NCAA Division II member William Jewell Saturday evening at Drake Stadium.
Saturday's contest is the third all-time meeting between Drake and William Jewell. The Bulldogs came away with a 44-30 victory over the Cardinals in the 2015 season opener.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Fifth-year head coach Rick Fox and his Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Pioneer Football League Coaches Preseason Poll, as they return 12 All-PFL performers and 23 student-athletes that started at least one contest in 2017. Fifth-year senior Grant Kraemer is set to begin his third season under center and has his top three receivers returning from last year. Kraemer led the PFL with 261.6 yards passing per game and tossed 20 touchdown passes. Kraemer became the second Bulldog since 1986 to throw 20 or more touchdowns in back-to-back seasons as the tallied 23 in 2016 and 20 last season. Kraemer's top three targets, Steven Doran, Mitch McFarlane and Devin Cates combined for more than 60 percent of the Bulldogs' receiving yards and over 50 percent of the team's receptions last season. Drake's defense is highlighted by preseason all-PFL selections Nathan Clayberg and Sean Lynch. Clayberg recorded 44 tackles with five tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks last season. Lynch led Drake last year with 72 tackles and helped the defensive unit lead the PFL in pass defense with 199.7 passing yards per game.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
William Jewell finished the 2017 season sixth in the Great Lake Valley Conference with a 2-5 conference record and was picked to finish seventh in 2018 by the league coaches. One of the Cardinals' top offensive returner is two-time All-GLVC selection, Bulla Graft. Graft led Jewell with 567 yards on kick returns while also collected 346 yards receiving and and 58 yards rushing. Defensively, Justice Taylor is WJ's best returner as he was a All-GLVC selection and registered 28 tackles and seven pass breakups.
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