The University of South Dakota’s football team enjoyed a pleasant surprise over their bye week.
Head coach Ed Meierkort said he thought they had already blown their chances of a conference championship after suffering a final minute loss to Cal Poly two weeks ago. Luckily, they received a huge favor from the University of Cal-Davis when they beat Cal Poly 24-17 last Saturday.
“The football gods were on our side,” Meierkort said. “With (Cal) Poly losing, some spring has been added to our step.”
With a rejuvenated squad, Meierkort will try to push all the right buttons to finish the season strong. This week’s Senior Day game is the 5-4 Coyotes’ last home game of the season, as they take on the 6-4 Miners of Missouri S&T.
Meierkort said the team understands the importance of winning this game.
“We view this as an extension of (the Cal Poly) game, where we could have gotten the Conference Championship,” Meierkort said. “We all want to finish 6-0 at the dome, so in order to do that, we’ll have to win this game.”
Meierkort said Missouri S&T is good at switching up their looks on offense and defense.
“They play with multiple formations on offense and have a variety of looks on defense.” Meierkort said.
The Miners are led by junior quarterback Josh Firm, who has 14 passing touchdowns on the season.
Sophomore defensive end Tyler Starr says the Coyotes are more than ready to stop the Miners offense.
“Everybody is refreshed and ready to go,” Starr said. “We are prepared to stop them.”
One of the big moments during the loss to Cal Poly was the injury to senior quarterback Dante Warren. The Coyotes are going to need a healthy Warren to finish out the season and Warren said the bye week came at a perfect time.
“I feel really good, definitely ready to play,” Warren said. “It’s always good to rest and get healthy over the bye week.”
Warren and the rest of the seniors are going to put an emphasis on ending their careers at the DakotaDome on a positive note.
“I’ve been here for five good years, so I’ll probably get a little emotional,” Warren said. “The other 22 seniors and I will all have a little boost in our energy. No one wants to lose in their last game here.”