SAN DIEGO – One can just envision Pioneer Football League coaches huddled in dark rooms, studying tape on oversized TV screens or iPads, thinking about next season, conjuring up thoughts about San Diego and those coaches thinking, “This time, we’ve got the Toreros.”
With Dale Lindsey embarking on his sixth season as USD’s head football coach, the Toreros have dominated the PFL this decade. USD has outright won or shared the PFL title six of the last seven seasons.
“The PFL title runs through USD,” Lindsey has said more than once.
The Toreros begin spring practice on Tuesday and if that PFL dominance is to continue it will be carried out with a slew of new players.
Defensive end Jonathan Petersen, the Football Championship Subdivision’s career sack leader?
Gone and gone.
Fourth-fifths of the starting offensive line?
Gone, gone, gone and gone.
Lindsey, though, sounds like a man who’s excited about accepting the challenge.
“It’s not like our guys are going to be shaking in their boots,” said the veteran head coach.
Lindsey’s thinking is that because USD often comfortably won PFL games, the coaching staff played numerous subs and those subs compiled 200 to 300 snaps last season.
“They might be a little nervous (next year),” Lindsey said. “But they’ve been there before.”
A major change extends to the coaching staff as well. Tanner Engstrand coached at USD for 11 seasons, the past five as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. Engstrand recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Michigan.
“Every year is a different team,” said offensive line coach Jim Jackson. “Finding the secret sauce for that team, that’s the fun part of coaching.”
There is returning talent. Running back Emilio Martinez rushed for 1,033 yards last season. Offensive left tackle Daniel Cooney is a two-time second-team All-American. Quarterback Anthony Lawrence has started 36 games and thrown for 8,521 yards and 81 touchdowns in his career.
Regarding Lawrence, Lindsey said, “That is a position of comfort.”
USD has only four starters back on offense. Six return defensively. There will be a new place-kicker and punter. The most glaring hole defensively is at defensive end, where Petersen compiled 18 sacks last season, giving him an FCS record 44.
Petersen’s push was so relentless, USD did not have to blitz often, which made pass coverage easier.
“You can’t replace him,” defensive coordinator Steve Irvin said of Petersen. “You hope the experience (of other players) replaces the production. Maybe not one person gets 18 sacks, but you have three people with six.”
USD will conduct 15 spring practices. The spring game will be held on March 17.
Men's Basketball: Portland State Win
Toreros move on to next round in CIT
Football 2018: Spring Game
Toreros play spring football game for family and friends
Baseball: Toreros vs. Aztecs
USD take on cross-town rival SDSU
Men's Basketball: Post Season Run
USD vs. Hartford highlights
Women's Basketball: WCC Championship Game
Toreros end the 2018 season against Gonzaga in the WCC finals.
Women's Basketball: WCC Semifinals
Women's win send them to the championship game
Men's Basketball: WCC Quarterfinals
Toreros close out 2018 season against BYU
Men's Basketball: "Off Day"
Toreros prepare for the WCC quarterfinals against BYU
Women's Basketball: WCC Quarterfinal Highlights
USD defeats BYU in quarterfinal of WCC Tournament
Women's Basketball: Day in the Life with Myah Pace
Freshman guard knows how to prep for a win
Women's Basketball: Vegas Bound
Toreros travel to Vegas for the WCC Tournament
Baseball: Defeating No. 4 Arkansas
Toreros edge out top five team
Men's Basketball: Rock the House
Toreros played No. 6 Gonzaga in a fight to the last minute
Men's Basketball: Day in the Life
Guard Olin Carter III knows the games starts long before tip-off
Rowing, tennis, basketball and baseball, a winning day in the books
Baseball: For the Love of the Game
Baseball celebrates 60 years
Women's Basketball: Women in Sports Day
Julie Foudy spoke to student-athletes and guests for National Women in Sports Day
Men's Basketball: At LMU
Men's basketball on the road
Women's Rowing: Day in the Life
Senior Lizzie Bader shows how three-a-day practices are done
Men's Basketball: Youth Basketball Clinic
Toreros lead clinic in local community
Men's Rowing: Winter Camp 2018
There are plenty perks to being the early bird
60 Years of USD Baseball
Milestones on the road to Omaha
USD Honors Local Military Members
Toreros showed their support and hosted local military members at the men's basketball game
USD Athletes Sing "Santa's Coming to Town"
Toreros show their talent out of uniform
Basketball: City Championship
Toreros play SDSU Thursday night at 8
Football: Week Fourteen
Football preps for second round of playoffs at NDSU
Football: NAU From the Sidelines
Toreros win in first round of playoffs at NAU
Football: Week Thirteen
Football travels to NAU for the first round of the FCS Playoffs
A day to give to Torero Athletics
Football: Week Twelve
Toreros gear up for last game of conference play
Football: Week Eleven
Toreros prep for game day
Torero Timeout with Summer Mason
USD junior women's soccer player takes a timeout during a study break
On Saturday We Dominate
Big wins for both USD Football and USD Volleyball Saturday afternoon
Torero Timeout with Henry Lander
Men's soccer sophomore Henry Lander takes a Timeout between classes
Football: Week Ten
Toreros gear up for home game against Drake
Men's and women's basketball teamed up to host a Halloween event
Football: Week Nine
Big day in the weight room for the Toreros
Seamus McFadden's Legacy
39 years in review by former players and coaches
Alumni, staff and the San Diego community gathered to celebrate Men's Soccer Head Coach Seamus McFadden
Sixth Man Night: The Event
Recap video of the October 12 fundraiser event
Women's Basketball: WCC Hoops Tip-Off
Coach Fisher and Maya Hood attend media day in Las Vegas
Men's Basketball: New Heights
Men's basketball celebrates the third era of the program
Alumni and family gathered together for an eventful Homecoming weekend
Torero Timeout with Kristen Gengenbacher
Take a Timeout with the senior setter at her house in South Mission Beach
Football: Week Seven
Football preps for this Saturday's Homecoming game
Torero Timeout with Jonathan Petersen
USD Football's Petersen strolls through Belmont Park during his bye week
USD Basketball: Practice No. 1
Check out what practice looks like for the Torero ballers
Football: Week Five
Toreros prep for big game against Dayton
Football: FaceTime with Lion's Jamal Agnew
USD Head Coach Dale Lindsey congratulates Torero alum Agnew on his first NFL touchdown
Football: Brian Fogarty PFL Classic
From tailgates to touchdowns, we got it all
Football: Week Four
Hard work follows these Toreros on and off the field
Cross Country: USD Invite
Missed Saturday's race? Don't stress, we have it right here
Football: Week Three
Sights and sounds of USD Football at work
USD Invite: Take a Lap
Men's and women's cross country host the USD Invite: the only home race for the Toreros
Football: Week Two
Football hard at work for their first away game at UC Davis
Three Games - One Day
Ole Weekend was one to remember for USD Athletics
Football: Week One
Toreros preps for their home opener against Western New Mexico
2017 Football Season Preview
Head Coach Dale Lindsey and Senior Ray Clark discuss upcoming season
USD Athletics Highlight Video 2016-17
Don't miss the best highlights from this past year in USD Athletics