Everyone knows where Valdosta State's biggest concern heading into the 2013 season is: up front with the big boys on the offensive line.
The Blazers lost five starters from last year's squad and now those concerns have grown larger.
Valdosta State will kick off 2013 against Fort Valley State Saturday, but they'll do it without three of the projected starters up front.
Guard Jack Bradley will miss the 2013 season with an ACL tear and lineman Jake Godin will also miss 2013 with a hand injury.
To make it worse, the other projected starting guard, Jeremy Daniels, will miss Saturday's game as VSU awaits MRI results on his knee. He could miss the season as well.
That means youth will be served when the Blazers take the field Saturday.
"It's going to be really tough for us. We're playing a lot of young guys up front," says head coach David Dean. "I really feel good about them. They work hard. They play together, and they've got a lot of pride in what they're doing. They just don't have a lot of game experience."
Dean has said he expects his team to play the season with a target on their backs.
That's just part of being the defending national champions.
But the Blazers can expect that target to grow even larger this week, when VSU takes on FVSU.
The Blazers blew out the Wildcats 62-14 last season in Valdosta.
Dean says the Wildcats have grown up, and likely want to get a little revenge.
"They're a lot more mature now. A lot of those guys we played against last year are now seniors," Dean says. "I know they'll remember that score, and it's going to be a heck of a football game for us."
"It's going to be a great challenge for us," he adds. "We're going to start out against a very good football team. Not really what you want to do but that's the way the cards have been dealt to us."
The Blazers and Wildcats kick off at 2 p.m. from Henderson Stadium.
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