“Disappointment” and “embarrassment” are words that can be heard around campus when talking about the University of South Dakota Coyotes 2012 football season.
The Coyotes knew they were about to get their feet wet and test the waters of the Missouri Valley Conference. Everyone knew the competition would be tougher, the athletes would be faster and the execution would have to be perfect. But nobody knew that the Coyotes wouldn’t be able to win a conference game and suffer 10 losses in this forgettable season.
Junior tight end Tyler Wilhelm acknowledges the season was very tough on everyone but said it’s important have to look at the positives.
“Coming into the season we expected to be very competitive with every single one of our opponents,” Wilhelm said. “We weren’t able to do that but I think everyone learned a lot from this year.”
The Coyotes started the season traveling to Missoula and taking on a tough Montana team to only blow a double-digit lead. However, they showed good character and came back the next week to defeat Colgate in their opening game at the DakotaDome. Throughout the rest of the season head coach Joe Glenn and his team battled but could not win another game. Fans have to be enthused that Glenn imprinted a fighting attitude in his players, who lost five games by a touchdown or less.
Junior offensive lineman Marc Murtha said despite the losses that piled on during the season, no one lost confidence in their abilities.
“At the beginning of the season all of us wanted to compete for the conference championship. Now, maybe that’s a lot to ask in our first year, but we all believed it,” Murtha said. “We weren’t able to do that, but that is going to make us all work that much harder this offseason.”
The Coyotes fell out of contention early on and the coaches were able to use the second half as sort of an evaluation period, allowing a multitude of younger players to gain some valuable experience.
Wilhelm forwarded his coaches’ message, which is how crucial experience is.
“Coach (Glenn) always says we need some birthdays on this team,” Wilhelm said. “All the experience our younger guys got this season will really help for next year.”
The Coyotes will see their leading tackler, rusher and receiver all graduate this season. Losing Tim Marlette, Marcus Sims and Will Powell will mean others will have to step up and get accustomed to their larger role. Powell will leave as USD’s all time leading receiver in touchdown receptions with 22.
Wilhelm says despite losing some valuable pieces, he definitely expects to see the team improve next season.
“We are going to rally around our leader in Coach Glenn and do as he says,” Wilhelm said. “He has done good things in the past and he will lead us where we want to be.”
Murtha said everyone is accountable for themselves and said improvement starts not only on the field, but off the field as well.
“If we all keep doing well in the weight room, in the classroom and everywhere else, success will follow onto the field,” Murtha said. “We’re going to put this season behind us and get back to our winning ways.”
Because of the forgettable season the Yotes have a long offseason in front of them and will not be seen by spectators again until next spring, when the annual Red vs. White scrimmage will take place in April 2013.