The USD football team visited West Point on Oct. 15th during their trip to New York to play Marist College.
Head Coach Ron Caragher (pronounced "CARE-ah-ger") enters his sixth season leading the USD Torero football program. He'll enter the 2012 campaign with a five-year mark of 36-19 (.655). The 2011 Team finished with a 9-2 record, tied for the Pioneer Football League Championship, and was ranked in the FCS Coaches Poll Top 25 following the conclusion of the regular season. Caragher was selected as PFL Coach of the Year and was a nominee for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Defensive End Blake Oliaro ranked 4th in the FCS in sacks (15) and was selected to The Associated Press FCS All-American Second Team and named the Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Year. Sophomore RB/KR Kenny James finished 2nd in the nation in all-purpose yardage ( 210.09 ypg.) and 1st year receiver Brandon White won the PFL Freshman of the Year (offense) Award.
In the 2010 season the Toreros won four of their final five contests to finish with a Pioneer Football League record of 5-3. The team was paced by All-America defensive end Mario Kurn, a nominee for both the Buck Buchanan Award and Ted Hendricks Award. A unanimous All-PFL First Team pick, Kurn led all FCS players in sacks with 17. The Torero defense, that also saw CB Al-Rilwan Adeyemi collect 6 interceptions, led the league in scoring defense (16.1 ppg), rushing defense (67.1 ypg), and total defense (265.0).
Three seasons ago (2009) the Toreros continued battling despite dropping five contests by 7 points or less. Senior running back JT Rogan left the program as the all-time leader in rushing (3,559 yards), touchdowns (54) and points scored (326). Redshirt freshman receiver Kyle Warren was named the PFL Offensive Freshman of the Year.
In 2008, Caragher guided the Toreros to their second straight 9-2 record, and the team placed second in the PFL with its 6-2 mark. Senior WR John Matthews was named a First Team All-American and was also a Walter Payton Award candidate. He led all FCS receivers in catches (102), yards (1,478) and touchdowns (21). The season was capped off with a 28-20 home victory over scholarship-program UC Davis.
Caragher's first season in 2007 was outstanding as he guided the Toreros to a 9-2 overall mark and 6-1 Pioneer Football League record, good for a share of first place. Caragher was a nominee for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award. USD finished ranked second in the final Sports Network FCS Mid-Major poll. Seven Toreros were named Sports Network FCS All-Americans, while eleven players were tabbed Mid-Major All-Americans by the same outlet. Senior quarterback Josh Johnson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in the 5th round, and three other players received looks by NFL clubs. Johnson, who passed for 43 touchdowns with just one interception, was a Walter Payton Award Finalist. Senior defensive end Eric Bakhtiari, who led the nation in sacks, was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award. The Toreros ranked first in the nation among Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams in scoring (44.36 points per game) and passing efficiency (197.35 rating). The 44 points per game average is a USD single season record. Additionally, the Toreros ranked 3rd in the nation in total offense (483.1 yards per game).
The University of San Diego introduced Ron Caragher as its new head football coach on January 9, 2007. Caragher became the Toreros' 12th head football coach at USD and replaced Jim Harbaugh who was hired as Stanford's head coach.
"As I talked to people around the country, I kept hearing the same things about Ron Caragher," said Ky Snyder, Executive Director of Athletics. "He is a student of the game, elite class of coach, very knowledgeable, great recruiter, develops players, motivated, competitor, great family man, high character and integrity. These are the qualities you seek in a head coach and we have found them in Ron Caragher. He has had access to some of the best minds in coaching in Terry Donahue, Bob Toledo and Rich Brooks. He has been a winner his whole life and we expect that will continue at USD."
Prior to being hired at USD, Caragher, spent four seasons (2003-2006) at the University of Kentucky as an assistant coach under Rich Brooks. He was the running backs coach all four years, and starting in 2005 served as Recruiting Coordinator. In 2006 Kentucky finished 8-5 overall, and 4-4 in the Southeast Conference Eastern Division, good for a tie for third place and the program's best league mark since 1993. The 8 wins is also the program's best win total since their 9-3 campaign back in 1984. The Wildcats finished off the 2006 season in fine fashion as they upset Clemson, 28-20, in the Music City Bowl on December 29th. It was Kentucky's first bowl appearance since 1999, and the program's first bowl win in 22 years.
Caragher also has Southern California ties. He spent nine seasons (1994-2002) on UCLA's staff where he worked with both Terry Donahue and Bob Toledo. After two seasons as a Graduate Assistant, Caragher was promoted to assistant coach where he coached Bruin wide receivers. Additionally, he coached punters all seven seasons (1996-2002), and kickers for his final two years (2001-02). During the 1997 and 1998 seasons, UCLA won a school-record 20 straight games and averaged more than 40 points per game while setting numerous school records. He coached in five bowl games during his term there, including the Aloha, Cotton, Rose, Sun, and Las Vegas bowls.
A native of Morgan Hill, California, Caragher was a three-sport letterman at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, CA where he earned three varsity letters as a QB in football. (Caragher was inducted into the BCP Athletic Hall of Fame in April). He earned an athletic scholarship to UCLA in 1985 and went on to earn four varsity letters (1986-89) and was part of teams that won four consecutive bowl games. After graduating from UCLA in 1990 with a BA in Psychology, Ron went on to earn his Master's Degree in Education (Administrative Studies) in 1995.
Caragher and his wife, Wendy, have three sons, Josh (15), Ryan (13), and Scott (12).
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