Aug. 8, 2013
Mason Mills awakened Wednesday morning with a purpose. The day he's waited months for had finally arrived and he couldn't wait to get started.
"It's an exciting time, for sure," said the senior quarterback for the University of San Diego football team.
August 7 marked the Toreros' first fall practice day and the countdown to USD's 2013 season -- which opens with an Aug. 31 non-conference road game against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- will accelerate accordingly.
"It's a lot different than spring ball when you wake up, you're looking forward to fall camp, but it's lifting weights instead of practicing and getting ready for Cal Poly."
Mills knows what's ahead. He's been getting prepared mentally and physically for all of the games, nonconference and those in the Pioneer Football League (PFL). He and a big group of returners took part in a two-hour morning workout too, as Mills called it, "get the kinks out and get our rhythm back."
On Wednesday afternoon, meanwhile, freshman running back George Liang, who played at San Diego's Del Norte High School, got his first taste of college football, Toreros style.
"It's unreal," the 6-foot, 215-pound athlete noted after Wednesday's first practice exclusively for first-year players. "It's everyone's dream here to play college football. I've worked hard to get here, we all have. Our high school coaches told us it would be like this, too. Players are faster, they're among the best around and everyone's a lot bigger. You come in and you're not guaranteed a starting spot. You're starting at the bottom and you have to work hard to work your way up."
Mills and Liang were among an estimated 110 players in camp -- returning and new -- to suit up for first-year USD head coach Dale Lindsey, a former AFL and NFL player and a veteran coach in the NFL, college and high school for more than 30 years. Lindsey was a linebackers' coach for USD in 2008 and returned last year as defensive coordinator.
The first fall camp day for Lindsey, who was promoted in late December when Ron Caragher left to take the head coaching job at San Jose State, featured passionate words about dedication to a program that's won a share of the PFL title the last two seasons. A preseason poll among PFL coaches gave the Toreros the status of league title favorite this year.
"We do take every game one at a time, but do we talk about the Pioneer Football League and talk about the three-peat," Lindsey said. "We were voted by the coaches as the preseason favorite. It's nice, but it doesn't mean anything. It puts a target on our backs, but I like that. I'd rather be voted first than be last. The expectation at the University of San Diego is always to win the conference. And this year, with the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) playoffs on top of that, it's a bonus."
Lindsey is referring to the PFL's inclusion in the expanded FCS playoff format starting this year. The champion of the PFL, which this year expands to a 12-team league with the addition of Mercer (Macon, Ga.) and Stetson (DeLand, Fla.) universities, will earn an automatic berth into the FCS postseason field. While Mills and Liang are players on opposite ends of college football from an experience standpoint, they're both conscious about ingredients for the Toreros' bid for success.
Liang is already enjoying the team's camaraderie, which helps with team chemistry and serves as a foundation for a winning attitude.
"We get together as a team and I really like that I can be around the team the whole time. Everybody knows each other. It's like family," Liang said.
Mills, who has been USD's starting quarterback the past two and a half seasons, is happy with the bevy of returning talent as well as a few notable additions.
"It's a veteran group that's back on both sides of the ball. We've got guys like (defensive tackle) Bennie Harris who's back after a year away, there's a great offensive lineman, guard Daniel Murray (a transfer from University of Cincinnati), who fills a key spot, and, as you saw today (in practice), we've got talent at wideout and in the backfield. It's definitely an exciting time for us, especially with the playoffs on the line."
No doubt about it, USD football is wide awake and ready to go this fall.
-- Ryan T. Blystone, Assistant Director in USD Public Affairs Office
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