The University of San Diego football team lost six All-Pioneer League performers during the offseason, including record-breaking quarterback Anthony Lawrence and All-American offensive left tackle Daniel Cooney.
The Toreros, however, aren't singing the blues.
The 2019 Toreros roster features seven returning first- and second-team All-Pioneer League players, led by consensus All-American wide receiver Michael Bandy, and are locked and loaded for a run at their eighth conference title in the last nine years.
Cal Poly hosts San Diego in the 2019 season opener for both teams Saturday afternoon. Kickoff inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium is set for 2:05 p.m.
Bandy caught 88 passes for 1,698 yards and 14 touchdowns, compiling nine 100-yard games (three over 200 yards), as San Diego posted a 9-3 record and qualified for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.
Also returning for the Toreros this season is their top rusher of a year ago, Emilio Martinez, who accumulated 710 yards on 132 carries (5.4 average per carry) and scored nine times.
The Toreros, who return five starters on offense and eight on defense, claimed the Pioneer League title with an 8-0 mark for the third straight year in 2018. San Diego hasn't lost a conference game since Oct. 10, 2015.
A year ago, Lawrence completed 282 of 432 passes (65 percent) for 4,107 yards and 39 touchdowns with seven interceptions. A starter for 47 consecutive games, he finished with a school- and conference-record 12,628 career yards passing and was a unanimous All-Pioneer League first-team selection and the conference's offensive player of the year.
Lawrence also holds school records for career completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns and was a three-time All-Pioneer League honoree.
Taking over for Lawrence this fall is redshirt senior Reid Sinnett (6-4, 225) from Johnston, Iowa. He has appeared in 33 games with the Toreros, completing 24 of 48 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 94 yards on 30 carries, scoring once.
Other top returners for San Diego are first-team all-conference defensive end Nick Friedel (9.5 tackles for loss) and return specialist Michael Armstead (32.31 kickoff return average) and second-team selections Aidan Valencia (offensive tackle), Kama Kamaka (linebacker, team-leading 69 tackles) and Tanner Kuljian (punter, 42.85 average).
Seventh-year head coach Dale Lindsey, who turned 76 in January, has compiled a 55-16 record at San Diego. Hired as San Diego's head coach on December 29, 2012, replacing Ron Caragher, who was hired as head coach at San Jose State, Lindsey was San Diego's defensive coordinator in 2012 and linebackers coach in 2008.
Lindsey was at New Mexico State from 2009-11 as an assistant head coach and linebackers coach. His resume also includes over 30 years of football coaching at the high school, college and professional ranks. Most recently with the Washington Redskins (2004-06), Lindsey also spent time on the San Diego Chargers staff as defensive coordinator (2002-03) and linebackers coach (1992-96). Lindsey played both linebacker and fullback for two years at Western Kentucky.
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh is 4-1 against San Diego while Lindsey is 1-3 against Cal Poly.
The Toreros allowed just 15.6 points per game in 2016 and 17.5 points in 2017, coincidentally the two years San Diego won first-round playoff games against Cal Poly and Northern Arizona, respectively. Last year, however, San Diego gave up 29.2 points a contest and lost at Nicholls State 49-30 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Mustangs and Toreros begin a four-game home-and-home series next year. San Diego visits Cal Poly in 2020 and 2022 while the Mustangs play the Toreros in San Diego in 2021 and 2023. All four games will be played in September.
-Provided by Cal Poly