USF vs. Augustana: Battle For Key to the City
Round 2 begins Saturday night between the University of Sioux Falls and Augustana football teams.
Last year, USF and Augustana waited 26 years to finally play each other again. When they finally played last October, the game wasn't disappointing at all. The game was exciting, intriguing, thrilling, exhilarating, stirring and action-packed all the way until the end. USF ended up squeaking by Augustana at Kirkeby-Over Stadium in an epic, 32-31 double-overtime win for the inaugural 'Key to the City.'
This year, the game is under the lights at Bob Young Field. USF comes into the game with a 4-3 record, while Augustana has a 3-4 record. Both are coming off wins. USF beat Concordia-St. Paul a week ago on the road, 47-7. Augustana beat Upper Iowa, 35-6, on homecoming last week.
This week's game is a rivalry game for both schools, but both coaches have stressed to their players in practice all week, that this game, is like any other game. "It's a normal week. We'll look what the opponent does, and try to execute what they might do to stop us," says Augustana head coach Jerry Olszewski. All week in practice for the Cougars, USF wanted to keep things simple, too. "Our goal was to keep the same routine, and to keep things normal," says USF head coach Jed Stugart.
USF will host Augustana on their home turf this year, after traveling two blocks for a 'road' game last year. The Vikings will head South up Minnesota Avenue to make their first trip ever to meet the Cougars at Bob Young Field. USF will try to take advantage of their home turf on Saturday night. "Because we are both in Sioux Falls, last year felt like home, too. There will be a lot of energy, and it will be loud on either side for the offenses. There's pride in playing at home, and psychologically, the kids take it personal," says Stugart. For Augustana, Olszewski hopes the Vikings will settle in, and once the game starts, it will be normal. "It's about getting to the start of the game, preparing. taking out the environment, and concentrating for the game. We played music in practice to help us if it gets loud."
The Cougars and Vikings match-up head-to-head with a stout offense against a dominant defense. USF's offense is No. 2 in the NSIC in total offense, and Augustana's defense in No.1 in the NSIC in scoring defense. Augustana is hoping to be ready for anything. "We want to be sound. They create a fast tempo, line-up and communicate. We have to be opportunistic for stops and turnovers," says Olszewski. The Cougars, meanwhile, are just hoping to be mistake-free. "Teams have made mistakes against them, and they have a simple defense. The challenge will be to not make mistakes, and be patient. We've faced good defenses this year, and have exposed them. (Augustana) can stiffen up in the redzone and that could be a big deal in the game."
Both teams have had their struggles in 2013, but saw a rejuvenation last week. USF's defense only gave up seven points to Concordia-St.Paul, and Augustana's offense was able to score 35 points against Upper Iowa. Both of which should have been confidence boosters for each team. USF's defense is just hoping to carry that momentum into Saturday night. "The defense got confident after last week. They simplified the defense, and the kids are lining up and playing with energy. Now, the kids know they can play well, and it has helped bring confidence into this week to be a good defense," says Stugart. The Vikings offense will have the task of creating frustration for the Cougars defense, and Olszewski wants them to be consistent. "We have to execute and stay in plan. We have to keep ourselves in manageable distance."
The Cougars want the 'Key to the City,' back on their side, while the Vikings would like some revenge. Olszewski hopes the Vikings can contain USF's offense, win the field position battle, and be able to maintain ball control. USF will seek to win the turnover margin. "Winning turnovers is always the number one goal, and we want to start fast. In games like these, it could come down to special teams, just like last year," says Stugart.
When it comes down to game time tomorrow night, both coaches say motivation won't be hard to find for their players. "It's about watching young men perform, and succeed because it will be intense. It's their game," Olszewski. Stugart responds and says the magnitude of the game has risen, and it's natural to get motivated for big games like tomorrow's game. "It's revenge for them, and with the 'Key to the City,' it's natural to get the kid's up. We'll probably get the kid's up, say a prayer, and get on the field."
The Cougars and Vikings will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow night at Bob Young Field. The game will also be broadcast on KDLT channel 5 for cable subscribers.