New-Look Cougars Prepare For Conference Title Defense
Jon Anderson Era Begins With Quarterback Questions
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The defending NSIC champions come into the new season surrounded by storylines.
The University of Sioux Falls Cougars finished 12-1 last season on their way to winning their first NSIC conference championship.
Their great season came to a disappointing end, however, after losing a home playoff game in the second round to Harding in overtime.
After seven years of Jed Stugart at the helm, this season starts the Jon Anderson era at Sioux Falls.
A week into fall practice, Anderson said he feels like the transition period is completed.
“We went through that introduction phase with our players there’s a really strong level of comfort right now. We spent a lot of time as a staff getting to know them, them getting to know us. Now, eight months in, we’re down to playing football,” said Anderson.
Another prominent face on the cougar offense has also moved on: Quarterback Luke Papilion.
That leaves a wide open gap for the quarterback position with no shortage of competition.
USF has six arms to choose from in camp and Anderson says a couple players have started to separate from the others.
One of those is fifth-year senior Matthew Young.
“It’s been highs and lows but at the same time, we’re giving each other our best so at the end, when one guy is chosen, he’ll have proven himself which is all you can offer the group is just to push each other,” said Young.
While a starting quarterback has not been named yet, whoever gets the helm has a pretty good security blanket behind them
All-American running back Max Mickey returns for his senior season.
He rushed for 1,764 yards with 19 touchdowns last season.
With another near-thousand yard rusher in Papilion now missing from the offense, Mickey said he is expecting to get an increased workload.
“I’ll probably carry the ball a lot more compared to last year. I’ve just really got to keep my body healthy and stay in the training room and take all the extra steps to make sure I’m at 100 percent,” said Mickey.
# 17 USF opens their new season August 31st at #10 Minnesota-Duluth.