Gary Goff admitted that he wasn't sure what to expect when Obadiah Dykes arrived at Tiffin University in 2011.
Now, the Tiffin coach knows what he has in the senior receiver - a quality player, and a leader. Dykes is a captain for the Dragons, who return to Frost-Kalnow Stadium today to open their season with McKendree University.
But if Goff knows what he has in Dykes, he's unsure of what to expect today. His team has plenty of new players, but more than that, he's unsure of what to expect from the Bearcats, who have two new coordinators and a quarterback, David Bergschneider, who played in just six games last year.
"What McKendree is going to come here?" Goff asked. "Is it gonna be the one that's spreading the football everywhere, or is it going to be the one that's running the Wing-T, because they did both last year. To be honest with you, we're kind of prepared for both."
Even so, Goff said the focus for the Dragons has to be their own execution. Tiffin returns eight players on offense, including Dykes, quarterback James Capello and senior lineman Gage Gorman, who missed last season due to injury.
"It's about us. We've got to able to go out there and execute; we've got to be able to protect the football," Goff said. "We gotta go out there and tackle. Simple as that."
One of the keys likely is to be Dykes, a New Jersey native who played football at Erie Community College in Buffalo before coming to Tiffin.
He was the Dragons' top receiver in 2011, with 64 catches for 547 yards and five TDs. But the Dragons went winless for the second time in three seasons.
Dykes said he's confident this will be a better year.
"I just want to win," Dykes said. "Help change the program, do my job, help my teammates, help them to learn."
Dykes said the squad is ready to go.
"Everybody's excited about this game," Dykes said. "Everybody's focused."
Dykes will be catching passes from Capello, who showed plenty of promise in his first season in Tiffin, but was hampered by a rib injury that sidelined him for three full games.
"Capello feels a lot more comfortable in the pocket, because our line is just better," Goff said.
Defensively, the Dragons have a new coordinator in Seth Duerr.
"He's the guy I wanted; I went out and got him," Goff said. "He's a stickler, he plays attention to detail; he believes in fundamentals first. We've got a sound defense. They're in the right position, I can promise you that.
"Now, are we overmatched here or there? I don't know."
Goff said the secondary will be better, and that Joe Collard (seven tackles for a loss in 2011) is expected to lead the line. He said the linebacking core is a bit young, but then, so is much of the team.
"Are we where we want to be? By no means," he said. "I can sleep at night knowing I've got good kids, kids that are going to work hard."
Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.