When the South Dakota Coyotes take to the field in Eugene, Oregon to open the 2014 season Saturday night, it won't take long to realize there's something missing on the defensive side of the ball.

Gone after four seasons is defensive end Tyler Starr, who will be playing his football on Sundays from now on with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Left behind in Vermillion are bunch of guys whose games were elevated greatly by sharing the field with an All-American the last few seasons.

Players like senior linebacker Auston Johnson and junior linebacker Keyen Lage, who say they picked up a lot playing alongside #11:

Johnson, Lage, linebacker Kyle Guziec, and lineman Drew Iddings combined for 240 tackles in 2013, and they will anchor a very strong front seven for USD in 2014, but the real question mark on defense was the secondary, with a number of new faces coming together:

With a number of key performers back on both sides of the ball in 2014, and an improvement of three wins from 2012 to 2013, there's a new attitude and confidence surrounding the 2014 Coyotes:

One area USD needs improvement this season is winning close games.  Three of the Coyotes' eight losses last season came by a touchdown or less.

Kickoff in Eugene is 9:30pm CDT Saturday.