Head coach Jon Anderson's USF Cougars return a lot of experience, which include twenty returning starters.
"We're going to be good, you see twenty of twenty-two returning starters. I mean that's just nuts. You don't get to see that with a lot of teams," said senior defensive back Tucker Stout.
Quarterback Caden Walters returns to lead an offense that put up an NSIC best 466 yards a game in 2018. Senior running back Gabe Watson was a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, after rushing for almost 2-thousand yards.
"Yeah there's probably a lot of pressure for him. But a I think he'd be the first to tell you, that the touches don't matter, the yards don't matter, the touchdowns don't matter. The only numbers that matter are the wins, and that's the type of person he is. Our game plan is still going to go through him. I think he is one of the best players in the country at any position," Anderson said.
"I'm my own biggest critic, so I put a lot of pressure on myself. And just hearing people on Twitter and different preseason accolades, coaches telling me things, other guys talking about me about stuff. And just saying things online, I know there's a lot of pressure on me but i'm going to put more pressure on myself than anyone else can," Watson said.
Ten starters return on a defense which ranked third in the NSIC in scoring defense, giving up nineteen points a game. Linebackers Harvey Enalls and Brody Grantham are two of the best at that position in the league. The Coo hope to really shut teams down.
"The emphasis is to be better and to improve over what we did last year. And with the players we have back and the experience they gained, I intend that to be the way it is," Anderson said.
Last season, the Cougars four losses were by a combined total of eighteen points. Three of those were by a total of eight points.
"It fuels us in so many ways, boosts our confidence up. You know it also makes us play and trust our technique more. You know it's not like I gotta make the big play, everyone has to work as one working unit. Doing the little things right," Stout said.