With a record of 1-4 (0-2) and itching for a win, the South Dakota Coyotes seemingly have found the right opponent on their schedule to do so.
The Coyotes will travel to Springfield, Mo. Saturday to take on a Missouri State team still in search of their first win (0-6).
However, head coach Joe Glenn said their record isn’t necessarily indicative of the kind of team they have.
“They have played two top-25 teams in Kansas State and Louisville, and stuck close with SDSU and Murray State,” Glenn said. “They’ve been a little snake bitten just like us and are actually playing some pretty good football.”
USD is coming off of a tough 24-17 loss during D-Days to Western Illinois.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Vander Maten had 246 all-purpose yards including a season long 35-yard run.
The team also potentially found another weapon in the passing game in junior wide receiver Anthony Williams, who had a season high 46-yards receiving coming mostly from a 41- yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
The defense seemed to play better and was able to help themselves by getting off the field, holding Western Illinois to 4-14 on third downs.
Despite the close game, the Coyotes weren’t pleased with the outcome.
Running back Marcus Sims made it clear that the offense needs to play with more consistency.
“Our offense is extremely inconsistent right now. One drive will look great and look like we can do it against anyone,” Sims said. “But then the next will be a three and out. We need to make it our goal to establish longer drives on a consistent basis.”
Vander Maten said the team is getting tired of losing these close games and is ready to get a “W.”
“We need to put it all together for four full quarters,” Vander Maten said. “We’re ready to execute our game plan this weekend and come out on top.”
The Coyotes, like usual, will look to run as much as they can.
Vander Maten said the team always feels confident in this aspect.
“We’ll look to get the running game established early,” he said. “Everyone is confident that out offensive line can set up plays for Marcus (Sims) and Jasper (Sanders).”
This will be a tough task though, as Glenn said he believes the strength of the Missouri State Bears team is up front on defense.
“Their three guys up front are really good,” Glenn said. “Their defense is solid and it starts with their nose tackle and trickles on down from there.”
Another area of concern and a sour spot in Glenn’s mind has been the punt team.
The Coyotes have had three punts blocked in the past two games and it has virtually lost them the games.
“It’s unacceptable, can not happen,” Glenn said. “It needs some work this week and it must improve.”
USD will look to shore up all its deficiencies this weekend before they travel to Sioux Falls on Oct. 20 to take on reigning FCS champion, North Dakota State.
“We’re going to get it figured out this week and get the ball rolling,” Sims said. “We need to get over this hump and figure out how to win these close games.”