Several players already in the program will battle for the other starting spots. Senior Rob Geissler saw plenty of snaps as a back up last year at tackle. The two defensive end positions could come down to a battle between juniors Aaron Cochran and Kyle Davidson, along with sophomores Drew Powell and Cory Heins.

There are several newcomers to the team who look to make their mark on defense as well.

Special Teams –

Whitworth's kicking game should be much improved to 2012. Dominic Aliano joins the Pirates after a successful junior college career at Diablo Valley in California. He will provide a stronger leg for kickoffs and give the Pirates a dangerous option for field goals.

Austin Ehlo was so successful working double duty as Whitworth's punter in 2011 that he was named First Team All-NWC after averaging 39.4 yards per kick. He will continue that role this season.

The Pirates will have to develop a new kickoff return man this fall. Paul Miller took five returns last season and averaged 16.4 yards. Jake DeGooyer should resume his role as the Bucs' primary punt returner. He averaged 5.9 yards in 2011.

The Schedule –

The Pirates face an unbalanced schedule in 2012 with six road games and only four games at the Pine Bowl.

Two of the four non-conference games are against first time opponents. The Bucs will open the season (September 1st) in Duluth, Minnesota against College of St. Scholastica, the defending champion of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and a 2011 NCAA playoff participant. Whitworth follows with a game at Whittier College in Whittier, California. Then a game at University of La Verne and the home opener against Chapman University round out the non-conference schedule.

Whitworth opens Northwest Conference play on the road at Pacific (Ore.) and the Boxers will be looking to post their first NWC victory since restarting the program in 2010. The Bucs then host Willamette for Homecoming and Hall of Fame festivities on October 6th and Pirate fans can only hope for a repeat of the thrilling double overtime victory in 2011. Whitworth then travels to perennial power Linfield followed by a home contest against Puget Sound in the Bucs' longest-running series. The final road game is at Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth closes at home against vastly improved Lewis & Clark.