While a 3-6 record does not sound all that glamorous, the Pacific University football team finishing in fifth place in the Northwest Conference was a dramatic improvement from years past.
And with the football program coming into its fourth year of age, the Boxers are looking to add to their recent successes.
One of the focal points coming into 2012 was the run game. Specifically, running the ball and stopping the run.
While both of these came through as great successes, the emphasis on stopping the run took away from the Boxers’ passing defense. Their passing yards allowed went from 2,027 in 2011, to 2,964 in 2012. The drop off in pass defense also led to many major plays that cost the Boxers wins against Whitworth and Willamette.
Head Coach Keith Buckley commented that upgrading the pass defense is just as much about confidence than anything.
He said he’s confident about the defensive secondary being able to make the proper adjustments to allow for success.
On the same subject, defensive tackles coach John Steiger said that the philosophy of the Boxers’ defense will always be to stop the run, and if the opponents get a few more yards in the air, then that’s how it is.
Both Steiger and defensive ends coach Marc Moody agreed that the pass defense is more an issue of a lack of pressure coming from the defensive line.
Moody said, “We need to increase the sack total, but without blitzing.” Moody also noted that the defensive linemen are working to get bigger and faster to disrupt quarterbacks.
The 2012 season saw the coming of age for a lot of players on the team.
The Boxers gained 981 yards by running the ball, with sophomore Bobby Ladiges getting more than half of the carries on the season.
Junior Kelson Kawai and sophmores Caleb Roher and Jakob Lawrence all had big seasons, catching a combined 90 passes for 1,347 yards and 15 touchdowns.
A year ago, the trio caught a total of 30 passes for 537 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior defensive lineman Chrystian Johnson had four sacks in 2012, after finishing 2011 with just one. Sophomore linebacker Josh Brinkworth finished the season with 71 tackles and an interception after finishing 2011 with 42 tackles.
Pacific also found a powerhouse of a kicker in sophomore Moses Villareal-Gomez, who finished 10-13 (76.9 percent) in field goals and a perfect 28-28 in PAT’s.
Both of those numbers were best in the NWC.
Eleven Boxers were selected to the All-Northwest Conference Team.
Offensive lineman Sean Dalton and linebacker Tim Hastie, both juniors, were selected to the first team while kicker Villareal-Gomez and Brinkworth, both sophomores, were selected to the second team.
Quarterback Minaya, receivers Kelson Kawai and Caleb Roher, offensive lineman Eric Gietzan, defensive lineman Devin Lagorio, safety Brian Mills and punter Aaron Koford all made the honorable mention list.
All of these players will be returning next year.
Steiger said that the 2013 Boxers football team will be a relatively old team with a lot of seniors and a lot of leadership on and off the field.
“We’ll be playing with championship level expectations,” said Steiger, “And we will be looking to contend in the Northwest Conference.”