Last season’s squad was young, but Elliott thinks that plays to their advantage. The Panthers return 50 letter-winners, including nine offensive starters and seven defensive starters. The leaders on the team hope to use their experience to set an example of how to go about their business to improve going forward.
“If we develop an identity, then they will follow behind us,” senior linebacker Ed Curney said. “My message every day is, ‘Hey, this is what I want for my senior year. I want to win, I want to go out on top.”
But they won’t have an easy schedule. The Panthers’ first game is against Tennessee. Later in the season, they’ll also face Sun Belt Conference foe and league champion Appalachian State. Elliott said he wants to play against the toughest opponents. But most important, he wants to continue investing in his players and coaches so they can build a sustainable program for the long haul.
And that’s what makes him truly excited.
“Sometimes you try to go and compete so quickly that you lose sight of what you're trying to do,” Elliott said. “We’re continuing to do what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to compete. We’re trying to do things the right way.”