The USD Coyotes have a veteran quarterback returning in senior Austin Simmons, who threw for a Valley best 286 yards a game in his first year as a starter last season. And he's got three of his top four receivers back including senior Dakarai Allen.
"You learn a lot throughout the year of actually being a starter, a lot of those experiences you don't really get being on the sidelines. So I think having that year under my belt will really help in terms of knowledge and confidence," Simmons said.
"Austin had a good year last year. I think he's poised to have an outstanding year this year, a guy that feels much more comfortable running our system. Eleven games will do that for you," head coach Bob Nielson said.
The Coyotes need to improve their running game behind a young offensive line. They do have their top three running backs returning including Kai Henry.
"I think we can make defenses spread the field and have to cover it from sideline to sideline and end zone to end zone, and hopefully that opens up some opportunities for us to be a better rushing football team," Nielson said.
"I just need to make more plays all across the board. We were close in a lot of games and it just comes down to a couple of plays in a lot of those games that we need to make this year," Simmons said.
USD hopes to stiffen things up on defense after giving up 34 points a game last season. They do have returning all-american lineman in Darin Greenfield back, part of a veteran group up front.
"Strength for us is our depth. And we've got a lot of guys that have played a lot of football on the defensive line. We've got guys that have taken a lot of snaps. There's a lot of guys that i'm really comfortable with," Greenfield said.
"We've got a lot of experienced dudes with a lot of talent and you know coach Johansen put in some top notch schemes," linebacker Jack Cochrane said.
"Well were going to be more multiple. I think we're going to be a team that can create a little more confusion for offenses than we did a year ago. And in our league with the talent that you see offensively you have to be able to do that," Nielson said.