After 15 spring practices, the University of South Dakota football team took the field for the annual Red-White spring game. Head coach Joe Glenn said it’s always an exciting time, because it shows the work put in during all the practices.
“The spring game always excites me,” Glenn said. “It’s an opportunity to be on stage and end the spring session on a positive note. Friends, family and fans are all here to watch, and it’s just a really fun time.”
Glenn said there were plenty of things he was looking forward to seeing from his team and was happy to walk away crossing many things off his checklist.
“I wanted to stop the run, which we did, and I wanted to move the ball on offense, which we did,” Glenn said. “The only thing we need to do a better job of is avoid giving up the big play on the backend.”
The Coyotes finished last season as the 9th best pass defense in the FCS, but saw all four starters graduate this year. The player who took advantage of the inexperienced secondary was sophomore wide receiver Ben Kramer, who despite only having one catch for 14 yards this past season, finished with a team-high 120 yards on three catches.
Kramer reeled in a 30-yard touchdown early in the scrimmage and followed it up with a long 59-yard score. The offense is looking for a young receiver to step up after the team learned Terrance Terry, who started for the past two seasons, would not be returning to the team. Kramer said it was nice to be on the right page with quarterback Kevin Earl, and said he’s been competing every day in practice to show the coaches what he can do.
“Earl was finding me today, and I just happened to catch them. It’s really about just being in right place at the right time,” Kramer said. “And with (Terry) being gone, there’s a lot of room for receivers to go out and make some plays and try and contribute.”
Starting receivers Riley Donovan and Josh Vander Maten have been hurt for the majority of the spring, which has allowed players like Kramer to get plenty of extra reps. Glenn said he wasn’t surprised to see Kramer come down with some nice catches during the scrimmage.
“He’s had a great spring and has looked really good,” Glenn said. “What he did today didn’t really surprise me.”
The offense ended up beating the defense by a score of 48-21, but that wasn’t much of an issue on the afternoon. Senior linebacker Auston Johnson said he was pleased with how the game went for both sides of the ball.
“I feel like everybody has gotten better this spring, and we’ve all gotten a year older from last year,” Johnson said. “We all competed today and showed that we’re all just continually trying to get better.”
After a slow start and forcing a couple passes resulting in interceptions, Earl looked that part on Saturday, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns.
“It went well today. You can never get enough reps and enough looks, and I was happy to get all of those today,” Earl said. “I’ve improved as a quarterback, and I was happy to go out and show some of that today.”
Photo/Photo Gallery: The offense pulled off the win Saturday 48-21 in the DakotaDome. (Rebecca Kroeger/The Volante)