KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Jason Feldpausch’s attitude toward Virginia is anything but cavalier.
The Western Michigan safety still respects the Virginia offense even though it fizzled in a 31-7 loss at South Carolina. The defeat dropped the Cavaliers, then ranked 15th, out of the Associated Press Top 25.
Virginia played without starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who separated his right shoulder in the season-opening 27-0 home victory over Duke. He also will miss today’s game at Waldo Stadium.
“They have weapons at the running back position and the receiver position,” Feldpausch said. “I don’t think that’s any indication of how good their offense is, how many yards they had last week. So we’re going to have to prepare.”
It will be the first meeting between the Cavaliers (1-1) and the Broncos (1-1). Western Michigan will make return trips to Charlottesville in 2005 and 2006.
Western Michigan has given today’s contest an added measure of importance by deeming it the school’s “Centennial Celebration” game in recognition of the university’s founding in 1903.
The Broncos routed William & Mary in their home opener last weekend. Western Michigan quarterback Chad Munson threw for six touchdowns and 450 yards, both school records, en route to the 56-24 victory.
Defensive end Jason Babin had 12 tackles for Western, and Feldpausch made five stops and blocked a punt.
“He’s a rolling ball of nails,” Virginia coach Al Groh said. “He’s all over the place. They line him up high. They line him up low. They line him up inside, outside. He plays the deep field, he blitzes, he blocks punts.
“Obviously, this is a player with significant talent, but most particularly he strikes us as a player who’s got a real passion for the game.”
Feldpausch was a two-way player in high school — he also played cornerback — but college recruiters ignored him because of his size. At Western Michigan, he earned a spot on special teams as a 5-foot-9, 160-pound walk-on in 2000.
Feldpausch then hit the weights in an effort to bulk up and help him land a spot on the defensive squad. His coaches told him at the end of the season that he needed to improve his skills on defense if he wanted a shot at a scholarship. He improved enough for coach Gary Darnell to offer him one after spring football practice in 2001.
“I, like, basically screamed,” Feldpausch said. “I was really excited. My parents were excited and really proud.”
Feldpausch improved even more last season. The weakside safety was chosen as his team’s MVP after finishing second in both tackles (104) and passes defended (eight). His five forced fumbles led the Mid-American Conference.
This year he was joined on the team by his younger brother, Chad, a redshirt freshman who also plays weak safety.
Jason is leading the Broncos in tackles this year with 22, including 15 solo stops. He’s eager to face Virginia, although he believes the Broncos will have to play their best to win.
“They’re going to be ready to come here, and we’re going to have to just play as hard as we can, 100 percent,” he said.