After finishing 3-5 for the second consecutive season in 2010, the football team is determined to set things right this year.

For a team that began with great hopes and expectations for the 2010 season, things quickly went from bad to worse, as Bowdoin began with a discouraging 1-5 record.

"For the previous three years, we were first in the league as far as turnover differential, and last year we went from first to last," said Head Coach Dave Caputi, now in his 12th year with the program.

This made things very difficult for the team last year, as it continued to dig itself into holes.

Caputi put it simply when he said, "We can't score touchdowns if we don't have the ball," and added that so far this year, emphasis has been put on "taking care of the ball."

Youth and inexperience contributed to some of the difficulties the Polar Bears faced last year, but several young players contributed with standout years. Among these players were running back Zach Donnarumma '14 (337 Rushing Yards, 4 TD), defensive back Joey Cleary '14 (50 tackles, 1 INT), defensive back Matt Savard '14 (43 Tackles, 1 INT) and linebacker Griffin Cardew '14 (43 tackles, 2 INT).

While last year's rookies did have a significant impact, Caputi and his coaching staff continue to look for more.

"What they did last year as first years was good, but they're not first years anymore," said Caputi. "We're asking those guys to step up again, and we're expecting them to do more because they can."

Injuries also played a big part in last year's campaign, especially because the team lacked the depth needed to overcome its losses. The outlook this year, however, is more positive because many players are returning from injuries and adding a vast amount of experience to the lineup.

"We have some depth that we haven't had in a few years," said Caputi, which he says will act as an insurance policy for potential injuries.

Captain Wide Receiver Pat Noone '12 believes that last year's misfortune may have been a blessing in disguise.

"We had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the season with guys who were expected to start," he said. "Guys who wouldn't have gotten as much experience played almost every game."

The Polar Bears like what they see in returning sophomore quarterbacks Tommy Romero and Grant White. Last season, Romero completed 10-of-27 passes for 141 yards, adding one touchdown and four interceptions in three games. White, meanwhile, played in eight games, completing 43-of-71 passes for 607 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

"I feel like both of them have shown a good command [of the offense] so far in the preseason, and it's been a good competition," says Noone.

Both quarterbacks' confidence is further bolstered by the return of a deep and experienced offensive line including Kyle Duncan '12, Joe Smith '12, Martin Robledo '13 and Bobby Driscoll '14.

This strong offensive team should greatly help an explosive wide receiver corps and a talented group of running backs put up points for Bowdoin early and often.

On the other side of the ball, there is a lot of excitement surrounding a fresh Polar Bear defensive scheme. New defensive coordinator Andrew Cohen has given the defense an entirely different feel, with frequent blitzing and more coverage options for various offenses.

The new playbook "allows us to show one thing and run another," says captain Linebacker Ian Vieira '12.

He sees the defense giving opposing offenses many more looks and keeping them off balance.

There are "a lot of disguises, a lot of blitzes from the edges, from the middle," added Vieira. "It's something to look forward to, and I'm very excited for our defense. I expect us to be the best in the league."

Both Caputi and the captains have maintained one message: win today.

"Whatever we're doing today, let's be really good today," said Caputi. "Let's have a great practice and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. If we can find ways to get better each day, we're going to be a good football team."

Noone echoed this sentiment.

"We're just trying to take it one game, one week at a time," he said.

It's a big week ahead: The Polar Bears open the season tomorrow at Whittier Field against defending NESCAC champion Williams. Vieira says the Bears are welcoming the challenge.

"We have the talent to beat anybody."