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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Football Season Preview: The Offense

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 08/01/2012
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This is part one of a two-story preview for the 2012 University of Sioux Falls football team. Part two will feature the defense, special teams and schedule.  

The USF offense officially returns eight starters, including most of the key players from last season’s squad that averaged more than 30 points and nearly 350 yards of total offense per game. Gone are wide receivers Tony Benedetto and Michael Hicks, tight end Spenser Sailors and OL Casey Peters. Led by a core of seniors that includes quarterback Taylor Perkins, wide receiver Jeremiah Oates and running backs Kristian Porter and Jordan Taylor, the Cougars return 96 percent of their rushing yards, 100 percent of their passing yards and 57 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago. Many consider the one-two punch of Porter and Taylor as good as any running back tandem in the NSIC.

Quarterback: Senior Taylor Perkins returns for his second season as the signal-caller for the Cougars. After starting the 2011 campaign as the backup to then-sophomore Carrington Hanna, Perkins got the starting nod when the Cougars traveled to Lake Charles, La., to face FCS program McNeese State. He threw for 146 yards with a score and added another 44 yards with his feet to spark a second half comeback bid against the Cowboys before being knocked out of the game with a hip injury in the fourth quarter. In four starts, Perkins recorded 823 passing yards with an 11-3 TD/INT ratio for a passer rating of 146.1. He also ran for 220 yards with a pair of scores and notched USF’s longest run of the season; a 40-yard scramble versus Minot State (10/29).

There’s no question about who’s starting behind center, but the Cougars’ depth at quarterback is strong. Junior Carrington Hanna (785 yards, 7 TD) will likely take snaps in the Wildcat, but redshirt freshman Calvin Jacobson is listed as the number two QB. 

Running Backs: Perkins will have a number of talented running backs lined up behind him. The unselfish tandem of redshirt senior Kristian Porter and senior Jordan Taylor will pound the ball week in and week out. Hanna (375 rushing yards in 2011) is also expected to get his touches.

Porter (1,485 career yards, 11 TDs) is approaching the 2,000 yards career mark and looks to break into the USF top-10 all-time career rushing list. The Hawarden, Iowa native only carried the ball 28 times last year before a broken foot in the McNeese State game sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Taylor worked hard in the weight room coming into last season and proved to durable enough to tote the rock in Porter’s absence, as he tallied three games of 20+ carries. He ran roughshod over the Yellowjacket defense with a 27 carry/148 yards/touchdown performance in the win over Black Hills State.

With the heavy pounding the running backs receive in NSIC, it's good to have a stable of running backs to share some of the pain of the running game. The Cougars have a den, so to speak, of lettermen ready for some action in the backfield. Mitch Dunbar and Dakota Fiene will battle for reps this fall. Freshman Brady Rose is slated to join the squad this fall.  

Receivers: Senior Jeremiah Oates (nine TDs, 373 yards) will be the top receiving target for Perkins this year and is a bonafide playmaker on the outside. Listed at 6-3, 180 pounds and blessed with excellent leaping ability and surprising speed, Oates is a load for any defensive back to handle. Last season Oates tied for first on the team in receptions (26) and was fourth in all-purpose yards (402).

There looks to be an audition for the second and third options at receiver when camp opens up. Hanna, who made switch from quarterback to wide receiver for the final three games of 2011, hauled in six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. He is also regarded as the best blocking wide receiver on the squad. 

Senior Brock Madsen (135 yards) saw action in every game last season.  Darren Neely, Tyler Ollerich and Garrett Shutt will make the unit more competitive as they push for playing time in 2012. Stugart also believes that junior college transfer Michael Lindsey’s speed in the open field will make him a dangerous receiver and a YAC guy. Lindsey had 49 receptions for 542 yards and seven scores with the 2011 Mid Empire and Central Division Bowl champion American River College (Calif.) Beavers.

Incoming freshmen such as Josh Angulo, Erik Albeck and Damian Woods will certainly get a strong look in August.

Offensive line: the offensive line was the biggest question for the Cougars coming into last season and the big fellas responded to the challenge. The unit plowed the way for 1,655 rushing yards (166 per game) and 12 touchdowns. Cougar backs hit the 140-yard mark in six of nine games last season, including a 281-yard field day in USF’s 71-0 whitewash of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. While the pass protection slipped by the slimmest of margins (one sack per 13 dropbacks, down from 12.9 in 2010), the running game improved (4.8 yards per carry, up from 4.4).

Right Tackle Casey Peters must be replaced, but four starters are back for 2012. The loss of Peters, a four-year starter on the line, will be a blow to the group’s continuity and leadership but the all-conference performer has joined Stugart’s staff as a graduate assistant.

The battle at center is between senior Corey DeBey and junior Sam Dooyema. DeBey made two starts at center last season but also logged eight starts in 2010, after he slid over from left guard for the game versus Morningside (10/16/10). Dooyema has been a serviceable player since arriving on campus but made a strong impression on the USF coaching staff in the spring.

The new center will be flanked on one side by senior Jared Vlotho and on the other side by sophomore JT Surgant. Vlotho career starts at right guard and received First Team All-Dakota transition team honors. Surgant joined the squad this spring after red-shirting for his freshman season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Erick Marquez started every game last season at left tackle and will look to be one of the anchors of this year’s unit. Sophomore Derek Delaney also transferred to USF after taking a redshirt at UNO last year, and the 6’5 Nebraska native is slated to start at right tackle. 

Junior college transfer Ethan Smith joined the squad in the spring and made progress as he learned to compete at the NCAA D-II level. He was an All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College honorable mention selection last season and is penciled in as a reserve guard entering the fall. Jordan McCollough and 6’ 8 Black Hills State transfer Shane Hyronimus will also compete for playing time.

The cupboard was replenished with the Cougars’ 2012 signing class and a host of newcomers will try to make the difficult transition from prep offensive lineman to the NSIC this fall. The coaches have identified Evan Colfack and Jeff Myles as two of the most physically ready to contribute this fall. Others who will compete but may need a little more time to develop include Stephen Arnold, Mike Cruciotti, Terry Huber, Max Koehn, Ethen Sorensen and Trevor Wescott.

Impact Newcomer on Offense: Few players had as prolific a senior season as Roosevelt wide receiver Josh Angulo. The 6-foot, 190-pound receiver racked up 1,087 yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior campaign with the Roughriders. Angulo also returned two punts to paydirt and snared six interceptions; three that became pick 6’s. Angulo saved his best game for last; burning the Warrior defense for 187 yards and two touchdowns to lead Roosevelt to a 31-17 win and the state title over defending champion Washington. Angulo was named the Joe Robbie Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Back of the 11-AA championship game. His other postseason hardware included 1st team all-state, Argus Elite 45 and a Gatorade South Dakota Boys Football Player of the Year nomination. 

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