The University of South Dakota Coyotes are about to enter the meatiest part of their season as they open up conference play in year one in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Coyotes will host Illinois State Sept. 29, and senior running back Marcus Sims says the team is definitely prepared.
“Everyone is ready to get the ball rolling,” Sims said. “We want to get our first conference win under our belt and keep getting
The Coyotes are coming off of a very tough 38-7 loss against the heavily-favored Northwestern Wildcats. The team failed to execute and got off to a very poor start. The first drive consisted of two false starts, two dropped passes and a stuffed run.
Head Coach Joe Glenn said he could hardly describe the porous start.
“The game took off and it seemed like the game from hell,” Glenn said. “Sometimes a team will flat out just beat you, but we definitely don’t have to help them out.”
However, the team continued to fight and were only outscored 10-7 in the second half.
“I liked how we continued to battle with them,” Glenn said. “I’m proud that we didn’t get discouraged.”
The Coyotes gained valuable experience from playing in a Big Ten environment, something that will help heading into conference play.
“Without question this experience will help us out,” Glenn said. “We’re hoping the MVC doesn’t have as good of athletes as Northwestern so we’re definitely excited for conference play to start up,” added Glenn, jokingly.
The Illinois State Redbirds will be a good first matchup for the Coyotes to see where they stack up in their new conference. The Redbirds have a squeaky clean zero losses on the season, as they are 4-0, which includes 50 plus points in two games.
Junior safety Charlie Goro expects the defense to have a better performance this weekend.
“We’re going to have to execute better and stay super focused,” Goro said. “If we can do that I feel confident in what we can do.”
Unfortunately for Coyote fans, the defense continues to give up too many rushing yards, causing the defense to stay on the field for too long.
“Honestly, I think we just need some birthdays up front (referring to their young squad),” Glenn said. “There’s not a problem with the scheme, so right now we’ll just continue to work on that area.”
On offense the Coyotes will continue to stick to the run, relying heavily on the legs of Sims and sophomore quarterback Josh Vander Maten.
“We know they (Illinois State) can stop the run, but we know we can run the ball very well,” Sims said. “Plus the pace is going to be a little slower compared to the Northwestern game, which should benefit us.
The Coyotes are at a point in their schedule where three of their next four games are at the DakotaDome. The Coyotes will try to defend their turf and knock off some conference foes.
“We are all feeling good and going to have no let downs,” Goro said. “We’re going all out from here.”
Following the Coyotes game against Illinois State, the team will host Western Illinois on Oct. 6 as apart of Dakota Days.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the DakotaDome.