As fall approaches quickly, exitement follows surrounding football season. Pacific University head football coach Keith Buckley shares this excitement when it comes to the start of upcoming Boxer football season.
“It is always fun to see our returners come back from the summer break bigger and stronger than the year before. We haven’t seen our new players in many cases since February or March so their growth over the last 5 or 6 months is exciting to see too,” Buckley said.
As early practices begin, Buckley and the team prepare for what will be a season full of learning with a group younger than most.
“We are a young team with over 70 percent of our roster being either freshmen or sophomores. With that level of youth in our program, which is promising in a lot of ways, we will be counting on our veteran returners to lead our team and help them develop as players and students,” Buckley said of his youthful team.
However, the Boxers are not completely reliant on their youth, with All-Conference players returning on offense and experienced players at the core of the defense.
The duo of quarterback JT Greenough and wide receiver Kobe Williams will return this season after both earning All-Conference honors. Greenough, who threw for nine touchdown passes last season, will look to improve in his second year as the number one quarterback. Williams, a first team All-Conference selection, will have the chance to add to his 17 career receiving touchdowns alongside Greenough.
On the defensive end, Coach Buckley said he believes “Tristan Smith, Bobby Ulrich, and Tui Tuitele should all be forces on the defensive line.” The trio completed 61 total tackles and seven tackles for loss last season, and with a years more experience we can expect those numbers to climb.
With such a youthful team it will be interesting to see which underclassmen have impactful performances this year for the Boxers.
Coach Buckley believes this year’s class could have a lot of responsibility on it hands when it comes to the teams depth.
“I’d be surprised if a freshmen was not in the two-deep at a number of our positions offensively and defensively,” Buckley said. “They’ve got a lot to learn to earn those spots but we are excited about this class.”
The Boxers graduated eight All-Conference players from last season, including first team selection Brandon Boyd. With holes to fill on both sides of the ball, the quick development of underclassmen could be huge for the team.
When it comes to filling the hole Boyd left, Buckley is confident in the depth of the running back position.
Buckley said the Boxer’s multi-back system has prepared this year’s new group to take over. “We have always used multiple running backs in our offense so Austin Cardoza and Kevin McGee saw plenty of time last year to step into carrying the bulk of the load at that position. There are also some very promising young backs including Ben Rosen that are working hard to learn our system and compete.” Ultimately, it will be hard to predict how this season will go for the Boxers.
After placing fourth in the conference last year it will be interesting to see if this young Pacific team can replicate and improve upon last season’s success. While we all look to ahead to see where this team can go coach Buckley keeps his eyes on the now.
“We focus week to week on getting better as people and players. Success is competing at the best of our ability and truly living up to our championship level expectations on and off the field.”