LIU Post football is back in familiar territory.
After spending five years in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, the Pioneers return to the Northeast-10, a conference they left after the 2007 season.
Stumbling toward a 3-7 mark last season, they hope that returning to the conference will rejuvenate them.
"We did not think we were a 3-7 team last year," coach Bryan Collins said. "We thought we were a lot better than our record. The kids have a chip on their shoulders. They didn't like the taste it left in their mouth."
Experience at the skill positions will guide the offense. Redshirt junior Steven Laurino, who battled injuries in 2012, is a duel-threat at quarterback. In nine games last season, he threw for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 255 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, Collins said he would like to see Laurino operate as a more traditional quarterback and rely more on senior backs Jeff Mack and Anthony Brunetti in the running game, while still keeping the threat for a potential Laurino scamper alive.
Receiver Joe Botti returns after catching 36 passes for 432 yards and two touchdowns last season. Shane Hubbard, who redshirted in 2012, has also been turning heads in practice, according to Collins.
The Pioneers have improved their offensive line, bringing in UMass transfer Sean O'Connor and moving Herb Flores from the defensive line to offensive guard. Collins projects he'll have three new starters on the offensive line when the season kicks off Sept. 7 at Millersville (Pa.).
"We're bigger up front than we have been in years," Collins said. "We're deeper and more talented."
The biggest question mark on defense is the secondary. Post graduated all four starters from the 2012 unit. David Sumter, Brandon Cheney, and Dan Belfiore, all returning starters on the defensive line, will look to mask any growing pains that the secondary may have. Dillon Quinn, the new addition to the defensive line, played the last three seasons at Boston College.
"He should be a dominant player on this level," Collins said.
Rob Bright returns to anchor the linebacking unit. He led the Pioneers with 79 tackles in 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
STEVEN LAURINO: Quarterback, redshirt junior, 6-0, 205
JEFF MACK: Running back, senior, 5-7, 187
JOE BOTTI: Wide reciever, redshirt senior, 6-3, 210
ROB BRIGHT: Linebacker, senior, 6-0, 240
DILLON QUINN: Defensive Line, senior, 6-7, 290