VERMILLION, SD -
USD finished their 2012 season 1-10. They say defense wins championships and that is exactly where this year's Coyotes are putting their focus.
"As a group we have gotten a lot closer and in turn we have played a lot harder, I'm excited," USD sophomore linebacker Keyen Lage said.
The Yotes defense will rely on six seniors to lead them into their second season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. Those leaders have created a brotherhood atmosphere that has even the underclassmen feeling like a part of the pack.
"Being a band of brothers is our thing. We have gotten so much closer as a defense. Last year it didn't feel like that, we didn't feel tight as a group. Having 65 guys on the team, we all got really close this off season," Lage said.
One of those close relationships has come between Keyen Lage and preseason All-American linebacker Tyler Starr. Starr led the team with four sacks in 2012.
"It is fun watching him. I play defensive end and came in as a safety, so I didn't really know much about pass rush. He is there helping me all the time with it, everyday I’m asking him and he's helping me. If he sees me mess up, he's helping me out. Having him there to ask questions and to watch play helps a lot," Lage said.
The senior has taken the role of being a leader both on and off the field very seriously this off season. Although his squad gave up 31.5 points per game last season, he expects his brothers to change that their second time through the conference.
"Look for a dog fight every game, especially a team that is going to stick together through thick and thin. When things aren't going good, you're going to see us picking each other up instead of getting on each others back. We are fully aware of what people think of us. We are excited to see what they think of us the following year," USD Linebacker Tyler Starr said.
The Yotes will kickoff their season August 31st against California-Davis in the Dakota Dome at 2 p.m.
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