The Shepherd University Rams are gearing up for a new season, marked with change.
At a media day event held last Saturday, Aug. 20, head football coach Monte Cater discussed this year’s new team lineup and the season ahead.
Cater announced that Bobby Cooper will take the lead as starting quarterback, a first for the third-year student who transferred to Shepherd from Old Dominion in 2010.
The Shepherd University football team plays for fans and members of the press in a scrimmage last Saturday. Shepherd’s football season kicks off Sept. 3 at Ram Stadium. (Chronicle photo by Kelly Cambrel)
Cooper, who will follow in the footsteps of former starting quarterback, Kevin Clancy, said that he wants the team to remain at least as strong as it was last season.
“Our motto is ‘back to back’,” Cooper said, referring to the team’s goal of wining the conference championship two years in a row.
The team, which lost most of its offensive players this year, has dealt with the challenge of filling in the gaps.
Coach Cater called the loss of former quarterback Clancy “a big loss.”
Cater explained that the team has worked hard since last spring to ready a largely new offensive crop.
“We’ve got some big shoes to fill,” he said.
Cooper said that though he’s feeling the pressure of his new role, he feels ready.
“It’s my first year being a full-time starter. I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve got to get the ball to my receivers. I’m not putting it all one me ...With all of our preparation, we shouldn’t be nervous.”
Coach Cater said that one of his biggest concerns this season is keeping his starting defensive players energized throughout each game.
He said that though eight out of 11 starting defensive players have returned, the overall number of experienced players are not as deep as he’d prefer.
“We don’t have nearly the depth that we would like to have,” he said.
Though the team was forced to recruit a high number of new players this season, Cater is optimistic about their choices, which he attributed in part to last season’s success.
“It’s by far the best group we’ve had coming in,” he said.
Cater said that he expects to encounter a look of surprises this season as six out of 11 teams in the conference will be led by new coaches.
Cater said coming up with the right plays at the right times will be remain a challenge he and his staff are up for.
“I’m hoping that there’s still some magic in the tank,” he said.
The Shepherd Rams will face-off in their first game of the season against Shippensburg Sept. 3 at Ram Stadium.