The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) held the annual football coaches' media day this past Thursday in Sioux City, Iowa. Each coach had an opportunity to speak about their team heading into the 2013 season and the day was completed with the announcement of the coaches' poll and the media poll.
The Doane Tigers were represented by Defensive Coordinator Chris Bessler who was filling in for Head Coach Matt Franzen. Franzen was unable to attend following the birth of his second daughter.
Bessler spoke briefly, talking about some of the Tigers' top returners on the offensive and defensive side of the ball as well as special teams. Afterwards he took a pair of questions from media in attendance.
After each coach took the opportunity to speak, the coaches and media voted on how they believe the standings will look at the end of the year.
The top four spots on both polls were identical as Morningside, the defending conference champions were picked to repeat. Northwestern was picked second with the Tigers third and Nebraska Wesleyan was fourth.
The only difference between the two polls was at the fifth and sixth spots where Hastings and Dakota Wesleyan flip-flopped. Hastings was the coaches' pick at No. 5 and the media's choice at No. 6.
The poll rounded out with Concordia picked seventh followed by Midland at No. 8. Briar Cliff and Dordt tied for ninth in the coaches' poll with Briar Cliff taking ninth in the media poll and Dordt picked 10th.
For Doane, they will return 14 starters to this year's squad. Doane finished the 2012 season with a 7-3 record overall and 6-3 mark in the GPAC, good for third in the conference standings. In the final NAIA National Poll, the Tigers were ranked No. 20.
On the offensive side of the ball where the Tigers return seven starters, the offensive line is expected be a key. Doane returns three of the five starters on an o-line that allowed the fewest sacks, four, in the NAIA in 2012. The offense averaged 376.1 yards per game last year.
Defensively, the linebacking corps will be the strength of the team once again heading into the season. The Tiger defense was ninth in the NAIA last year in first downs allowed and 13th in rushing defense.