#38 San Diego FCS Football 2014 Preview

San Diego Toreros

Overall Rank: #38
#1 Pioneer

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San Diego declared themselves ineligible for the Pioneer League’s first ever automatic bid to the playoffs. But, if they were eligible, they would have tied for first place in the league with a 7-1 mark along with Marist and playoff representative Butler. San Diego has some huge holes to fill, but this is a program that can replace just about anybody. They may be forced to play a little differently, but Coach Dale Lindsey will find ways to win.

2013 Record: 8-3, 7-1
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Dale Lindsey (8-3 at San Diego, 8-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tanner Engstrand
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Irvin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Keith Williams, QB, 60 yards
Passing: Keith Williams, QB, 14 yards
Receiving: Reggie Bell, WR, 1,050 yards
Tackles: Matt Miller, S, 90
Sacks: Steven Spencer, DL, 1.5
Interceptions: Yogi Hale, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Brandon White, OL Pono Keni, OL Daniel Murray, S Troy McClelland, CB Jamal Agnew, P Ryan Belden, K David Last

Key Losses: RB Joe Ferguson, RB Kenn James, QB Mason Mills, WR Sam Hoekstra, OL Tobin Gramyk, DE Steve Gargiulo, DE Blake Oliaro, DT Clint Johnson, LB Michael Ruffino, LB Zach Devaney, S Rob Beathard

On defense, the strength will be in the secondary where three of San Diego’s four defensive starters return. Safety Matt Miller is a tackling machine and he will once again be paired up with fellow senior Troy McClelland. Jamal Agnew had a very promising freshman campaign and will be the team’s top cornerback. The strength on offense lies at wide receiver and the line. Reggie Bell is one of the best talents in the league. He caught 65 passes for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns during his junior campaign. Brandon White is not quite the threat to break a big play that Bell is, but a dozen of his 47 receptions ended up in the end zone. At 6-3, he is a superb target in the red zone. The line returns four starters who were all juniors last season. Pono Keni, Daniel Murray, Luke Myer and Jeff Starr will do a lot to help replace the superstars lost in the backfield.

Quarterback Mason Mills threw for 3,463 yards and 35 touchdowns to wrap up his amazing collegiate career with the Toreros. Even more impressive than those numbers is that Mills completed 66.0 percent of his passes and threw just five interceptions. He ended his career at USD with 11,099 passing yards. His replacement will likely be sophomore Keith Williams or junior transfer Trey Wheeler. Williams was Mills’ backup in 2013 as a freshman, but threw just two passes. Wheeler spent two years at Simon Fraser University before sitting out last season with San Diego. Both Williams and Wheeler are relatively mobile, but neither was all that impressive with their arm during the spring and this is an offense that needs a quarterback who can throw. The other massive backfield losses are Joe Ferguson and Kenn James. The two running backs combined to run for 1,062 yards and ten touchdowns. Dallas Kessman missed most of last season with an injury, but finished the 2012 campaign strong and should be the team’s top back if he can stay healthy.

The Bottom Line:
Even with so many new faces in the front seven of the defense, San Diego should still remain one of the top defenses in the conference. Brandon Pulealii is a great piece to build around on the line and Coach Lindsey has options, although relatively inexperienced, across the front seven. San Diego does have to play both Marist and Butler on the road in 2014 and those may prove to be the toughest PFL games of the year for San Diego.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 163.3 (58th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 323.9 (8, 2)
Total Offense: 487.2 (9, 2)
Scoring Offense: 39.1 (8, 2)
Rushing Defense: 126.2 (21, 5)
Pass Defense: 231.9 (79, 5)
Total Defense: 358.1 (35, 3)
Scoring Defense: 22.7 (25, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.10 (52, 4)
Sacks: 2.36 (28, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.64 (90, 7)


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