"It's a whole new coaching staff,'' Phillips said, "and 30, 40 new players came in. It's really a different team when you look at it.
"It's exciting. New stuff is always exciting. Everyone's bought into the program, and we're looking forward to going into this new conference and playing new teams, stuff like that.''
Phillips said all the change is making it easier for players to forget the problems of recent seasons.
"When you look at the record from last year, 2-9, well, it's just now we're really a different team with different schemes on offense and different schemes on defense, different coaches. So we don't really worry about last year, we just look forward.''
State opens its new beginning on Sept. 7 at Lock Haven (Pa.), then begins a 10-game swing against MEC schools, playing every other member of the new league except Wheeling Jesuit, which doesn't have football.
Two of the three out-of-state schools that joined nine members of the former West Virginia Conference pay a visit to State's Lakin Field this season - Urbana (Ohio) on Oct. 5 and Notre Dame (Ohio) on Nov. 2. The Jackets visit Virginia-Wise on Oct. 26.
Anderson was asked if it was an advantage or disadvantage to be joining a new league at the same time his football program was undergoing an overhaul.
"It's completely different for everybody,'' he said. "There are three new [coaching] staffs and three new teams. Maybe we don't stand out as much now as we would have a couple of years ago when it had been status quo in the old conference.
"So from our standpoint it's a bit of an advantage in that, yes, we're an unknown, but there are also other teams that are unknowns to us. We've done as much research and film study as we can, and we'll be very basic and sound in our schemes and be able to adapt and grow as we go.
"But the biggest thing that we don't know is: What is the level of play? Everything looks great on film, but my staff is coming primarily from three very good Division II conferences in the Midwest - high-level Division II football.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.