INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs enter their 2014 football campaign with big shoes to fill and lots to prove. After losing top weapons such as QB Matt Lancaster, RB Trae Heeter, and DE Jeremy Stephens to graduation, the defending co-champion Butler was picked to finish fourth in this year’s Pioneer Football League race in the annual preseason poll of league coaches. If anyone is willing to bring the bite behind the bark, it is Butler offensive lineman David Tiwari. RS junior Tiwari and junior Michael Demos were among 28 players named to the 2014 Preseason All-Pioneer Football League Team. The honor squad was released by the league office on Wednesday (July 30).
Tiwari, who earned second team All-PFL recognition last fall, and Demos, who was an honorable mention All-PFL pick, were key performers on a 2013 Butler offensive unit that led the PFL in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (13). The two junior linemen helped the Bulldogs to a second consecutive PFL Co-Championship in 2013, and both were in the starting lineup when Butler became the first PFL team to appear in the NCAA Division I FCS Championship.
I had the privilege to talk to Tiwari and get a feel on what will be a new-look Bulldog squad in 2014.
Football is back; class is back in session. Is it good to be back at practice and hitting guys?
“It feels great to be back on campus with all of the guys,” said Tiwari. “Practicing against each other gets repetitive and we are excited to get a chance to hit a guy with a different jersey.”
Butler Football fans are still feeding off of last season’s excitement. Is there any early pressure to repeat the success of the past two years?
“We want to get off to a good start against Wittenberg and go from there. Being the first team to make the playoffs out of the PFL we know that we are going to have a target on our backs from other teams in the league and we have to be ready for that.”
Lots of outstanding seniors left this May, especially on the offensive side of the ball. How much easier was it to play with guys like QB Matt Lancaster and RB Trae Heeter behind you? How about OL Charlie Perrecone next to you on the line?
“Having those guys on the offense was great,” noted Tiwari. “Matt and Trae could turn a broken play into a first down. Charlie was great to play next to and always made sure the O-line was on the same page.”
What was the team attitude during the first few days of practice? Do you see guys taking on leadership roles or new leaders developing?
“The attitude around first few days of practice was excitement for a new season. We have a lot of guys taking on new roles this year. Guys that were traveling are now starting and some guys are traveling for the first time. With such a large senior class graduating we lost a lot of vocal leaders as well. QB Matt Shiltz was voted offensive captain and recently named the starter at QB and has done a great job so far. “
What can we expect from the Butler Bulldogs this season and what does this program mean to you?
“For all of the guys that have been in the program for the last few years, our expectations are to win championships,” stated Tiwari. “We don’t want to use ‘being young’ as an excuse and it starts this Saturday.”
Seeking their first win on the road to open the season since 2010, the Butler Bulldogs will visit Wittenberg on Saturday, Sept. 6, to kickoff the 2014 season for both teams at Edwards-Maurer Field, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. (ET). The Wittenberg Tigers have 12 starters back from last year’s successful squad, which rolled off a 10-game winning streak, won a fourth conference championship in five years and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Tigers went undefeated at home last season and enter this season on an eight-game home field winning streak, but no one is more fired up to lead the Bulldogs into victory than Right Tackle, #70, David Tiwari.
Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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