The Game: Johns Hopkins kicks off the 2012 season by welcoming Randolph-Macon to Homewood Field. This week's game is the 35th all-time meeting between JHU and RMC.
On This Date: Johns Hopkins has played just one previous game on September 1 ... a 17-16 win at Hampden-Sydney to open the 2007 season. The win was secured when senior defensive linemen Patrick Kay blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game. JHU had taken the one-point lead with just over 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter when current assistant coach Greg Chimera scored on a one-yard run.
The Teams: Johns Hopkins and Randolph-Macon are both coming off successful seasons and this week's game is one of the few nationally on opening weekend that feature two teams that won eight or more games in 2011. The Blue Jays posted a 10-1 record, claimed a seventh Centennial title and advanced to the NCAA Playoffs last year. The Yellow Jackets posted an 8-2 record and finished second in the ODAC. RMC was just 11 points away from an undefeated regular season of its own in 2011.
Series History: Johns Hopkins holds a slim 17-16-1 advantage in the all-time series against Randolph-Macon. The Yellow Jackets prevailed, 41-37, in the last meeting in 2010. A complete series history can be found on page 2.
For Openers: Johns Hopkins is 12-9-1 in season-openers under head coach Jim Margraff and the Blue Jays have currently won nine of their last 13 openers.
Home Openers: Johns Hopkins is 15-6-1 in home openers under head coach Jim Margraff.
A Final Opener: Johns Hopkins is opening the season at home for the first time since 2008 and just the fourth time in since 2002.
I'm Honored: Juniors Armand Jenifer and Dan Wodicka, two key pieces of a prolific Blue Jay offense a year ago, were selected as preseason All-Americans. Jenifer grabbed second team honors from Lindy's 2012 College Football Preview and d3football.com, while Wodicka was a second team pick by Lindy's.
Returning All-Centennial Jays: Johns Hopkins dominated the 2011 All-Centennial Conference Football Team as the Blue Jays claimed the coach and offensive player of the year awards (Hewitt Tomlin), had a school-record 10 first team selections and 14 players garnered first team, second team or honorable mention status. While JHU graduated one of the great senior classes in school history last year, the Blue Jays do return four of the premier players in the league.
Centennial Favorites: For the fourth consecutive year and the seventh time in the last nine years Johns Hopkins was selected as the favorite in the league's preseason poll of coaches and SIDs. The Blue Jays received 14 of 20 first-place votes and totaled 153 points to easily out-distance Ursinus, which checked in at number two in the poll with four first-place votes and 137 points.
2012 Centennial Conference Preseason Poll
Rk. School - Points (1st-Place Votes)
1. Johns Hopkins - 153 (14)
2. Ursinus - 137 (4)
3. Muhlenberg - 126 (1)
4. Gettysburg - 96
5. Susquehanna - 92
6. Franklin & Marshall - 85
7. Dickinson - 71 (1)
8. McDaniel - 68
9. Moravian - 53
10. Juniata - 19
JHU Ties Victory Record: Johns Hopkins posted a 10-1 record in 2011 and tied the school record for victories in a season. Only twice previously - 2003 & 2009 - had Hopkins won 10 games in a season. Johns Hopkins had never won more than seven games in a season prior to 2002, but the Blue Jays have posted eight or more wins eight times in the last 10 years.
Centennial Conference Champions: Johns Hopkins claimed its seventh Centennial Conference title last season with all seven championships coming since 2002. JHU ranks third in league history with its seven titles. Only Dickinson (9) and Muhlenberg (8) have more titles than the Blue Jays, who are tied for third on the list with McDaniel.
NCAA History: Johns Hopkins made its third trip to the NCAA Playoffs with all three appearances coming since 2005 under the direction of Jim Margraff, the all-time winningest coach in school history. The Blue Jays are 2-3 all-time in the NCAAs with a run to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2009 highlighting JHU's NCAA history. Unlike the previous four NCAA games in school history, the Blue Jays hosted the first round game last season. JHU dropped a 23-12 decision to St. John Fisher, which advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals before being eliminated.
Post-Season Regulars: In addition to this being the third appearance in the NCAAs for the Blue Jays, this was also the eighth time Johns Hopkins has advanced to the post-season as JHU has also played in five ECAC Bowl Games with each of those coming since 2002. Including the 2-3 record in NCAA action, Johns Hopkins sports a 6-4 all-time post-season record as the Blue Jays are 4-1 all-time in ECAC Bowl Games. Included is a 44-14 win over Lebanon Valley in the 2010 ECAC South Atlantic Bowl. Including ECAC games, Johns Hopkins has advanced to the post-season in each of the last four years.
Sweet September: Johns Hopkins enters the 2012 season having won six straight and nine of its last 10 games in the month of September. The only team to beat JHU in the month of September in its last 10 games? Randolph-Macon, which posted a 41-37 win over JHU on September 11, 2010.
More September: Johns Hopkins has not lost a home game in the month of September since September 22, 2007, when Moravian escaped Homewood with a 44-41 victory.
Regular Season Roll: The Blue Jays will put a 14-game regular-season winning streak on the line this week against Randolph-Macon. The streak, the longest such run in school history and the fourth-longest in Centennial Conference history, began with a 49-24 win at Susquehanna on October 23, 2010. The Blue Jays have outscored the opposition, 581-164, during the 14-game run.
How About an Encore: In addition to ranking first or second in the Centennial in every major offensive statistical category, the Blue Jays also finishd second in the nation in total offense (492.7), 12th in scoring offense (39.8) and seventh in passing offense (312.3) last season.
A Dymanic Duo: Despite the loss of Sam Wernick, who took his 228 career receptions for 3,023 yards and 30 touchdowns with him when he graduated in May, the Blue Jays return one of the top receiving tandems in the nation in junior Dan Wodicka and senior Scott Cremens, who combined for 146 receptions for 1,950 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago. Wodicka had a school-record 87 receptions for 1,245 yards and seven scores, while Cremens had a team-high nine TD receptions among his 59 catches for 705 yards.
Rigaud, Barletta Return to Fuel Rushing Attack: The loss of all-time leading passer Hewitt Tomlin will be softened by the return of seniors Jonathan Rigaud and Scott Barletta. Rigaud rushed for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago and enters his final season at Homewood ranked 15th on JHU's career rushing list with 1,580 yards As JHU's primary fullback, Barletta rushed for 177 yards and eight touchdowns last season and specializes in finding the end zone as 13 of his 84 career carries have ended as touchdowns.
Linebacking Crew to lead Defense: Like the Blue Jay offense, the JHU defense suffered some significant losses to graduation after the 2011 season. Still, the Blue Jays regularly use a deep rotation so there is considerable returning experience.
Three key returning linebackers will lead the way for the Blue Jays on defense as seniors Taylor Maciow, Adam Schweyer and P.J. Caufield will anchor a unit that allowed just 13.1 points per game a year ago.
Despite fielding a senior-laden unit last season, it was Maciow and Schweyer who ranked first and second, respectively, in tackles as Maciow punched up a team and career-high 88, including 6.5 for losses, while Schweyer added 64, including three sacks. Caufield totaled 37 tackles and a memorable two-point defensive return in the driving snow and rain in a 37-9 win over Ursinus.
Defense Fuels Victories: While the Johns Hopkins offense grabbed attention with the points and yards it put up last season, the Blue Jay defense also enjoyed a strong season as well. Consider:
• The Blue Jays' 11 opponents had 148 combined possessions against JHU - only 14 resulted in touchdowns. Three of the 17 overall TDs JHU allowed were scored by the opposition's defense/special teams.
• JHU finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense (10th/244.3), scoring defense (12th/13/1), pass defense (17th/141.2), sacks (21st/33) and rushing defense (25th/103.1).
• The Blue Jays forced two turnovers vs. USMMA and three vs. Susquehanna, Moravian and Muhlenberg before coming back with two more vs. Juniata and Dickinson and three vs. Gettysburg. Hopkins has forced two or more turnovers in 28 of its last 36 games.
Sustained Success: Since the start of the 2002 season the Blue Jays sport an 81-29 (.736) record. Taking it back farther the Blue Jays are 87-32 (.731) since the start of the 2001 season and 92-37 (.713) since the beginning of the 2000 season. The 74 wins the Blue Jays amassed from 2000-09 are the most wins in a decade in school history. Johns Hopkins had never won more than seven games in a season prior to this decade. In the decade completed in 2009, the Blue Jays averaged more than seven wins per season (7.4).
Seven's Heaven: Since the beginning of the 2003 season the Blue Jays are 72-20 (.782) when scoring more than seven points and 0-7 when they have been held to seven points or less.