Schumer, St. Vincent's starting quarterback for the past two seasons, suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 last season. Backup quarterback Trent Elder also went down in that game, which forced Sauer to move from center to quarterback. Elder and Sauer split time as Schumer's replacement last season, which led to some offensive woes.
"I think we'll be able to put up some points this year," Sauer said. "Last year we struggled at times. There's no denying it. I feel we're going to be all right this year."
Schumer said his knee still hurts some, but he's ready to get into action. He passed for 452 yards and two touchdowns before going down against Missouri Military Academy.
"It's a lot more smooth," running back Derek Joggerst said about the offense with Schumer at quarterback. "It's more right having him there. It feels how it should be."
"Trent Elder, Taylor Sauer and Sean Martin -- all three look pretty good receiving the ball," coach Sauer said. "Jesse Francis is another one in the mix. Hopefully we can get hooked up with those guys a little bit."
Joggerst led the Indians in rushing last season. He gained 329 yards on 87 carries and scored four times.
"We've got to have a strong line," Joggerst said. "Our line has got to stay in the weight room throughout the season, stay strong so we can overpower. We're not big, but we're fast. If we can open up our gaps and get our blocks in, we can run all over the place."
The offensive line is a big question mark for the Indians. Coach Sauer said the line doesn't have much size.
(Southeast Missourian file)
Coach Sauer said he's going to lean on Schumer to bring along the younger offensive linemen.
"It's going to be a big burden on Tim's shoulders to make sure we're in the right formation and got the blocking scheme down and know who we got to block and help them young guys out, especially here early," he said.
It's a role Schumer is willing to embrace. He knows it's important to his well-being.
"Just try to answer their questions as best as I can when they ask me," Schumer said. "Just try to lead them because I know they're anxious to get out there and play. Try to be a leader on the field for them.
"If they do something wrong, just try to help them out. If they continue to do it, you've got to get on them a little bit. But mostly just try constructive stuff."
Offensive line isn't the only place where the Indians lack experience. But coach Sauer doesn't have many options besides the youngsters.
"You hate to start a lot of young kids, but I think this is the year that a lot of them have been working their tails off and have earned it," he said. "It's a matter of we only have seven seniors and only nine juniors, so we're a little low on the upperclassmen, so those sophomores are going to have to step up for us."
Coach Sauer made shoring up the defense a priority. The Indians allowed 320 points while going 3-7 and missed the playoffs last year. Only three starters return on defense.
"Everybody's got to be at the ball," Taylor Sauer said. "Everybody's got to stay on their assignments. You can't have any mental lapses because when you do, good teams are just going to turn it against you."
Coach Sauer said there's a positive buzz surrounding the team this season, and it started after last season.
"We stressed at the end of last season we didn't think we were very strong and conditioned well for the season," he said. "This year in the offseason we've had a group of kids committed to come into the weight room, and I think we're going to be a stronger football team than we were last year. Definitely I think we've got a lot more enthusiasm and team unity. They've got something invested in the game with the amount of time they've put in in the weight room, and they're looking forward to reaping the rewards on Friday nights."
The Indians will be without a pair of starters when the season begins. Lucas Carroll, who started on both sides of the ball last season, sustained a knee injury. Dylan Richardet, who saw plenty of action last year, is recovering from a broken ankle. Both players are expected back in three to five weeks.
"It would be nice to have them here from the start, but it's always a plus to get them back and maybe get a shot in the arm Week 2 or Week 3," coach Sauer said.