COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Mike White sat and watched his defensive linemen work on technique during Benedict's first practice of fall camp.
"I like that! I like that!" he told one lineman as he went around his teammate during the drill.
There's a lot for White to like with this Benedict team this season. The Tigers, who finished 5-0 at home, have been picked to finish second in the SIAC after coming off a 7-2 campaign a year ago. Now, they're hoping to improve on that mark
"We want to be better," said White. "We want to draw bigger crowds and we love it when we play here and have the crowd behind us. We even hope to have a bigger year -- big passes, big plays, and have our home crowd behind us."
The Tigers return nine starters on offense including senior quarterback Dominique Harris, who was sidelined with a knee injury last season. With the return of Harris at quarterback, the Tigers hope to put up bigger numbers after a less than satisfactory showing on offense a year ago. Benedict ranked 140th out of 168 NCAA Division II teams a year ago. It's no secret that the Tigers want to improve on that ranking this season.
"It really starts with the offensive line establishing that they can block their man one on one," Tigers senior quarterback Dominique Harris said, "and the receivers going out, running their routes, and catching the ball."
"It definitely all starts with our offensive line," White agreed. "In any culture, you want to have a strong defense. You want to have the big, strong quarterback. We think we have that, but again, it has to start with them. Craig Hinson, who has been a four-year starter and started every game since I've been here, along with Justin Brown. Those two guys, we're expecting big things out this year and hope they can lead our offense to more touchdowns should I say."
Defensively, Benedict returns seven starters on defense. The Tigers finished 2017 as the fifth-best defense in all of Division II. With that, the Tigers aim to remain one of the top defensive squads in the country.
"This offseason, I feel like we were the best because everybody was here, everybody was locked in, and we're motivated," said junior defensive lineman and former C.A. Johnson standout Wendell Bing, "and I'm sure it's going to pay off. Not hopefully. For sure, it's going to pay off."
Benedict opens their season on Sept. 1 at home against Florida Tech.