USD football decided to forego the annual spring football game due to DakotaDome renovations. Instead, the team held two practices open to the public on April 6 and 14.
Head coach Bob Nielson and Athletic Director Dave Herbster came to the conclusion for no spring football game, which is usually held in April.
“The Dome being under renovation wasn’t really a conducive situation to hold a real spring game,” Nielson said. “The open practice yesterday (Sunday), we had a lot of people out here, it was a beautiful afternoon, a lot of people got to see the practice facility for the first time. A lot of teams have gone away from spring games. There’s a lot more value, honestly, in practicing, than there is in spring games a lot of times.”
While Nielson sees the value in practicing over a spring game, senior defensive end Darin Greenfield and junior wide receiver Levi Falck have differing views.
“I remember my first spring game was one of the first times I’ve played football in two years after redshirting,” Greenfield said. “It knocks the rust off for some of those (young) guys. You can go practice 100 times, there’s no experience like a live rep, which is what you experience in a spring game.”
“I think without the spring ball this year we did a good job getting the young guys live action,” Falck said. “It was almost better than one spring game, having two full scrimmages.”
Falck and Greenfield also had different reactions when they learned there would be no spring game. Greenfield, limited in the last couple of springs, looked forward to this spring. Falck, on the other hand, prefers the practice turf over the Dome turf.
“I was a little sad. Obviously a spring game is something to look forward to for some guys,” Greenfield said. “Over the past two spring balls I used that time to kind of get healthy, I’ve been a little bit banged up in those times, but it is a really good time for young guys to get some experience in front of other people and it’s just a fun experience for some of the guys who haven’t played live football in two or three years.”
“I wasn’t really too mad about it,” Falck said. “I like it out here, I like the turf out here more than inside, so I actually enjoyed it. Having two media days was kind of nice to have more flexibility for all the families to come up.”
Greenfield and Falck agreed the spring game is much more valuable for the younger players rather than veterans who played in the fall.
“I think it’s really important for the younger guys,” Falck said. “I know when I was younger I was really looking forward to it because you don’t get action in the fall, so it’s your chance to really prove yourself, but for the older guys, you are kind of just working on the fundamentals.”
Greenfield, as a senior, knows he’s on his final stretch of his time with USD football. No spring game takes away an opportunity for him and all of the seniors to pad up and play again, but Greenfield acknowledged he still has one season to go.
“I’m a little disappointed because every chance I get I want to play,” Greenfield said. “South Dakota’s been great to me, I want to represent it every time I can. It didn’t work out, but we will be back in the fall.”