A starting running back out for the year, on top of other injuries, it's just not the way USD hoped to enter year two of the Joe Glenn era. But there will be no excuses, the Coyotes need to start winning. After a 1-10 season last year, the program is getting serious about life in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The grind of last year's disappointing run is over. Like every other team, the Coyotes have a clean slate and a renewed spirit heading into the 2013 season. They admit that improvement will be a result of how well they prepare. For head coach Joe Glenn, he's working hard to nab the program's first conference "W."
"Just getting a win. I'd like to be like Tom Osborne, my idol, and just say, 'I hope we play well,' and then go out and kill guys. I know Tom wanted to win. We can't take it anymore, we got to get a victory," Glenn said.
As you can imagine, practice is all business at the DakotaDome as players and coaches focus on what can get better. Junior Quarterback Josh Vander Maten tossed for just over 1,600 yards last season. He connected with wide receivers and defensive backs alike though with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. While he was definitely more of a running threat his comfort level in the pocket and with the offense overall is rising.
"I would just say mental toughness. I think we've grown up a lot, physically and mentally. Our whole offensive line is back. That's big, that's huge. Everyone got a year under their belt and that is something that is very valuable in the game of football, even more than other sports. Having that year under our belt going into next year is going to be big," Vander Maten said.
It could help the Yotes get over the hump in close games. USD lost four contests last season by three points. Despite all the negativity that goes along with last year's performance, players are starting to regain confidence and defend themselves.
"We have heart. No matter what the schedule says last year or how much you picked us last year, we have heart and we're going to come out and fight every single game," Taverna said.
"We're fully aware of what people think of us, and we're excited to see what they think of us after the following year," Starr said.
The Coyotes open the season at home on August 31st against Cal-Davis.