SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — “It’s been hard, it’s been long, but it’s been worth it,” Senior defensive back Dorian Fedrick said.

After a full season lost, followed by months of agony, the USF Cougars will finally take the field for the first time in nearly 700 days.

“We don’t have to say go around here. These kids have come out for 2 plus weeks now and they’re excited. They’re ready to play and having something taken away from you makes you appreciate it even more. They’re a tight-knit group of guys that really genuinely care for each other. So, all those things are great characteristics to have on gameday and we’re going to rely on them,” Head Coach Jon Anderson said.

“This is like the most rewarding time of the year for us. It’s been two years since we had any rewards, it’s been all hard work, no play. So, yeah this is beautiful, it’s bliss to finally get out and play,” Fedrick said.

The Coo’s offensive attack will feature many familiar weapons like Thuro Reisdorfer, Ty Smith and Ben Sokup, but they’ll have a new man running the show at quarterback in Adam Mullen.

“He’s a playmaker, a playmaker, calm, poised, collected at all times, and I feel like that’s the presence you need in the backfield. You need someone who’s calm, not over-thinking or panicking and that’s exactly what Adam Mullen does,” Fedrick said.

The team will also feature a defense that gave up only 17 points a game back in 2019.

“In our live scrimmages this year we’ve tackled well. You know, that was a big thing, can we knock off the rust and put our guys in position to finish plays and often times you don’t get to do that in practice and I thought they did that well,” Jon Anderson said.

And while there’s always going to be early season rust and jitters, September 2nd’s matchup with Bemidji State may have a few more.

“You know it’s going to be different this time. We’re going to have to temper that and get over that. We’re going to have to get back to playing football right away and adjust. First games are all about adjustments and this ones going to be a big one because everyone’s sat around and schemed, and dialed in new players for two years and it’s going to be a true first game for sure,” Jon Anderson said.

USF opens its season on Thursday, September 2nd against Bemidji State. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m.