Head coach Joe Glenn is fired up. After a bye week, his team enters conference play against Youngstown State, and Glenn knows this year needs to be different than the past.
“We’ve had three really good games with (Youngstown State),” Glenn said. “It’s time for us to step up. We’re on our home field. It’s homecoming. It’s not about getting close. We’ve got to play better than getting close. Getting close won’t cut it.”
The Coyotes are entering conference play with a 2-1 record, the same as they had last year at this time before finishing the season with a record of 2-10.
Glenn said this year is an opportunity for a breakthrough.
“We have a more talented football team, a more seasoned football team, a more veteran football team. I expect them to play better than they have the past three years,” he said.
Glenn is not the only one who notices a change. Junior running back Trevor Bouma notices something different in the air this year.
“The effort and the trust (are different),” Bouma said. “Every guy on the field trusts each other that they’re going to do their job and make plays, and we know every guy out there is going to give 100 percent effort every play.”
Bouma is coming off a three-touchdown game against Drake and looks to keep it going.
“It gives me a lot of confidence. The last couple games the whole team has played well,” Bouma said. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
What the Coyotes are doing is winning.
After the 52-0 blowout against Drake on Sept. 19, the USD offense and defense both looked sharp. USD has been impressive in its red zone all season, forcing a fumble on their own one-yard line against Kansas State and forcing a fumble on their own ten against Drake.
Redshirt first-year defensive end Andrew Van Ginkel knows this better than anyone else. After a game in which he recorded two sacks, forced a fumble in the Coyotes own red zone and blocked a field goal, he and the defense are ready to take on Youngstown State.
“It’s homecoming, protecting and trying to win our homecoming is going to be huge. Knowing that the crowd is with us and against them just motivates us,” Van Ginkel said.
After last week’s large crowd, the DakotaDome should be even bigger for Dakota Days. Crowd support is huge for the Coyotes and what they do on the field. When the crowd is there, the Coyotes want to impress.
“It motivates us to do our best for them,” Van Ginkel said. “We’re here to give them what they want, some energy and excitement. It’s something this team hasn’t had in a while.”
USD takes on Youngstown State at 2 p.m. on Saturday for the 101st Dakota Days. Glenn said those in attendance can expect big things.
“I read that this is going to be a great game,” Glenn said.
(Photo: The Coyote defense comes together during the home opener at the DakotaDome two weeks ago. USD face Youngstown State on Saturday for Dakota Days with kickoff at 2 p.m. File Photo / The Volante)