USD looks forward to San Diego Bowl

USD Toreros Football

The vehicle hauling vegetables rumbled past the University of San Diego and didn’t loose its load.

“We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck,” football coach Dale Lindsey said. “We know what we are walking into.”

Lindsey’s Toreros eye an opener which is eye-opening. And we’re not talking about the post-game fireworks show.

USD wrestles with San Diego State on Sept. 5 and won’t this be fun, right Dale?

“It’s going to be a great experience for the kids,” he said.

No kidding, the Toreros, which doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, might be a tad overmatched.

But if there is anything guaranteed in sports it’s that there are no guarantees.

Is USD a prohibitive underdog?

Yep, and it other news, the view of San Diego Bay is stunning from its Linda Vista campus.

But a football has an odd shape and often games follow that lead. Lindsey has been around long enough to know just that.

Did you realize he was the Chargers’ linebackers coach when Dennis Gibson deflected Neil O’Donnell’s pass to send the Chargers to their lone Super Bowl?

All these years later, welcome to the San Diego Bowl.

“We have a road game but we don’t have to leave San Diego,” Lindsey said.

But it’s a step up for the Pioneer Football League defending champions and that’s OK. A chance to play in NFL digs is plum for any program.

“Absolutely,” Lindsey said. “We don’t we see those kinds of venues in our league, with most of them holding 5-7 thousand. So I think it is going to be a thrill.”

It comes with the chill of knowing the Aztecs, a bowl participant five straight years, has weapons.

“Going against a Division I team with FBS talent, well, you’re going to find up where you measure up,” Lindsey said.

“They have a coach (Rocky Long) who’s been down the road in big-time football,” Lindsay said. “They are poised to make another run to a Mountain West title and they got players on top of that.”

The bottom line for Lindsey is naming a quarterback. The program was blindsided when Keith Williams, who threw for 21 touchdowns last year, declined to return.

“We got three guys and it’s an open competition,” Lindsey said.
Of the trio of arms, redshirt senior Trey Wheeler has a leg up.

“He’s the guy who would be ahead right now,” Lindsey said. Please check back for updates.

“It’s based on merit,” Lindsey said. “Just because you’re the best in the morning doesn’t mean you’ll be the best in the afternoon.”

There’s little doubt Jonah Hodges is the real-deal at running back and will be leaned on often.

Lindsey, last year’s PFL coach of the year, notes the wide receivers are a work in progress.

Defensively the strength lies on the outside, with holes in the middle. The linebacker and safeties positions need to be settled, with the sands of training camp time dwindling.

Just like all coaches with a whistle, Lindsey wished he had more practices to answer more questions.

But it was no mystery when the PFL coaches got together: they agreed the Toreros were the team to beat in 2015.

“That is a nice sign of respect,” Lindsey said. “I rather be picked first than picked last. I like having that target on us and that is what it is, a target. Expectations here are high. What (former coaches) Jim Harbaugh and Ron Caragher did was hard. And staying there is harder.”

The Toreros stay local when the season lifts on Lindsey’s third year. If it’s a rocky road traveling east on Friars, so be it.

“Who knows what’s going to happen?” he said. “Let’s just go play football.”

 

+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparis_sports.

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