Heading into its homecoming game, the University of South Dakota Coyotes football team feels their 1-3 record doesn’t do the team justice.
The Coyotes are coming off of a tough 34-31 loss to Illinois State.
Head Coach Joe Glenn liked the effort his players gave, but agreed it wasn’t enough.
“We played hard and made a game out of it but we couldn’t seal the deal,” Glenn said. “We can do better, and in fact we have to do better.”
The defense gave up 153 yards rushing over 45 carries resulting in a pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry for Illinois State.
Glenn seemed pleased in the improvement his team showed in this area.
“It was the first time this season where our defense stood up and smoked the other team in the face,” Glenn said. “We played the run well, and I’m pleased to say that.”
Junior outside linebacker Tyler Starr also noted that the run defense is showing improvement.
“We’re getting better every week because we are starting to get more penetration,” Starr said. “But really it was still disappointing because we couldn’t come out on top.”
The Coyotes will have a good test this weekend from a Western Illinois Leathernecks team that utilizes two running backs on a regular basis.
Senior Nikko Watson leads the team with 315 yards on the season while senior Ray Caulton has 257 yards and a team leading two touchdowns.
All together the 2-2 Leathernecks average 151.2 yards per game on the ground.
Offensively the Coyotes run game should stack up well versus a Western Illinois run defense that gives up 169.8 yards per game.
Quarterback Josh Vander Maten said the run game will be crucial this weekend.
“We’ll have to make adjustments and execute, but the plan is too keep running the ball well,” Vander Maten said. “If Marcus (Sims) runs well, our team does well.”
Senior running back Marcus Sims agreed with what Vander Maten had to say.
“Hopefully my number keeps getting called,” Sims said with a smile. “I feel like I am a big part of this offense so yeah I would agree with Josh in the fact that the running game is very important.”
Glenn said he wanted all of the fans, students and alumni to soak in the D-Days atmosphere.
“I went and played football here,” Glenn said. “D-Days was always a special time so I really hope that everyone attends the pre-game parade. Just talking about it gives me goosebumps.”
The Coyotes will be looking to notch their first conference win and Starr said fans can count on it to
“It’s D-days, the only option is to go out there and get a W,” Starr said.