USF Cougars Hosts the NSIC’s Best on Saturday
The Cougars host the NSIC's best, and are sending out a group of seniors that have been with head coach Jed Stugart for most of their collegiate careers.
"Every year since I've been here, these are guys that I've had the longest with me. We've developed some great relationships, and Senior Day is always emotional because you realize you've spent a lot of time with them, and this is there last home game. The thought of them not being around hits you, but it also excites you because you got another batch coming, and get to start new relationships with new recruiting classes. We just want to honor our seniors, and the guys that have come before us, and play for each other that day."
USF comes into Saturday's game with No. 1 Minnesota State trying to put a difficult loss a week ago to Upper Iowa on the road. Upper Iowa's Chris Smith ran all over the Cougars for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Carrington Hanna paced USF with 298 yards through the air, and two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Hanna led a late comeback by tossing a nine-yard touchdown to Austin Van Hove. Then, USF's Cameron Ostrom recovered an onside kick, but it was too late for the Cougars to win, as a Hail Mary found no hands for the Cougars on the last play of the game.
Mistakes really doomed the Cougars, as turnovers, two three and outs, and their fourth down woes cost themselves the win. Stugart says the only thing his team can do, is learn from the loss.
"We do try to figure what you can build off a loss. We started slow, and we just didn't have the energy to get rolling. So, what you have to do is learn, especially when you're playing the No. 1 team in the country. You can't start slow, and you can't make the mistakes we made in the first half, and really, the whole game."
The Cougars have only lost twice at Bob Young Field, two years ago to Washburn, and this year to Winona State. Minnesota State comes into Sioux Falls as the No. 1 in the country, and has a very good offense and defense. Minnesota State is fourth in scoring offense (39.2 points per game), and first in scoring defense (15.0 points per game). USF has beaten other high-powered offenses (Southwest Minnesota State), and handled Augustana's stout defense in a win. So, without a doubt, USF can compete with the best. Stugart has been preparing for the best by practicing against the best
"We worked our No. 1 offense vs. our No. 1 defense because we're going to face a lot of good athletes. We put our best against our best so they can get the speed on both sides of the football."
Even with a 5-4 record, and while battling injuries, USF is confident that they can beat Minnesota State at home on Saturday.
"Every team is beatable if you do your assignments. We've got great players, too. They are just an experienced bunch, and solid on all three phases of their team. We got to shut down their quarterback the way he runs, and make him beat us in the passing game. They are solid up front on defense, and we have to be patient with our offense. We have to know if we can establish the run game, it can help our pass game. Patience is the key," adds Stugart.
The Cougars host No. 1 Minnesota State at Bob Young Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.