Torero football ready for Homecoming
USD focused on beating the Stetson Hatters
The University of San Diego football team just recently had a bye week after defeating the Marist University Red Foxes 20-16 in Poughkeepsie, New York, two weeks ago. The win came in dramatic fashion on a tremendous game-winning touchdown by senior wide receiver Reggie Bell with just 15 seconds remaining. With the win, the Toreros have momentum heading into this weekend’s Homecoming showdown against the Stetson University Hatters.
Coming off of a bye week, the Toreros have had plenty of time to rest and prepare for the upcoming challenge.
Bell attributes the team’s careful preparation to their recent success.
“Preparation for any opponent starts on Monday with film study. Knowing your opponents’ tendencies gives you an advantage on Saturdays, especially on the perimeter being a receiver,” Bell said. “It’s good to know defensive guys’ techniques so you know how to attack their weaknesses, which will give you the upper hand.”
Stetson currently holds a 2-3 record, matching their win total from all of last season. USD beat the Hatters 59-0 last season on the road, but a lot of improvement can be made in the span of a year. Stetson University brought back their football program last year, meaning that the players were very young but have a year of experience under their wing.
Senior safety Troy McClelland recognizes that this team should not be overlooked despite the huge win last season.
“They have some speed on offense, and ran a kickoff back against us last year. We can’t overlook them and can’t fall into a trap coming off of a bye week,” McClelland said. “We watched film yesterday and they played well against Butler who is a contender in our league, so they have definitely improved.”
Stetson just lost to defending Pioneer Football League co-champion Butler University 41-49, proving that they have the ability to compete with the league’s best. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Tentler leads the Hatter’s offensive attack, compiling 741 passing yards this season and seven touchdowns. He has thrown seven interceptions, which should be a cue for the Torero defensive backs to pay attention to and possibly take advantage of. Sophomore running back Cole Mazza gets a majority of the carries in the run game and has had success in the previous two games. He has two straight games with over 100 yards rushing, while also scoring two touchdowns on the season.
The Hatters have struggled on defense thus far, but do have a tricky defensive scheme that has the capability of confusing offenses. Their game plan is very risky, which might be an indicator as to why they have given up 186 points in just five games.
Junior offensive lineman Pono Keni understands what their strategy is, and what the Toreros need to do to be successful.
“They play Cover 0 or Cover 1 because they trust their corners to cover the best receivers in the league,” Keni said. “This means that they’re rushing seven or eight against the quarterback so there is always going to be one guy running loose at the quarterback that needs to be accounted for. That’s the most difficult thing that Stetson does.”
Unfortunately for the Hatters, the Toreros have two of the best receivers in the league in Bell and senior Brandon White, who both know how to exploit a defense and execute plays with perfection. White has 17 receptions for 326 yards and three touchdowns this season, while Bell has 14 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns. The team’s preparation both mentally and physically is the key to success.
As a senior, Bell knows what it takes to win and it is a constant focus throughout the entire season.
“Hydration is also a huge part of your preparation,” Bell said. “Making sure your body is prepared and hydrated is key in making sure you can perform at peak performance for 60 minutes.”
The Toreros are currently 3-1 and hope to win this Homecoming game against Stetson in a step towards the overall goal. Since the Toreros were unable to participate in the playoffs last season because of scholarship allegations, the team hopes to show everyone that were deserving of a playoff chance last year and will continue to succeed this year. Keni knows that it is important to take care of each week without looking too far down the road.
“We want to show that we deserve to go to the playoffs and deserve to play where we should have been last year,” Keni said. “We try not to think of the team weeks down the road, but we just always want to play our best and kick the teams butt that we are playing this week.”
The game starts at 2 p.m. at Torero Stadium, with Homecoming festivities taking place throughout the day.