2018 Preview: South Dakota Offense
Last season, South Dakota assembled the top passing and number-one total offense in the Missouri Valley Conference, helping to propel the Coyotes to their first ever FCS Playoff berth and the school's first Division I post season win.
The leader of that unit, quarterback Chris Streveler, has moved on to professional football in Canada these days, but there is no shortage of talent left behind on the offensive side of the ball in Vermillion.
Austin Simmons, Streveler's backup the past two seasons, played in 15 games as a freshman and sophomore, tossing seven touchdowns and only one interception. He's also shown the ability to tuck the ball and run, picking up better than six yards a carry last season.
When Simmons goes to the air in 2018 he'll have a whole host of targets to throw to. USD's leading receiver, Shamar Jackson is back after 53 catches and four touchdowns in 2017. Dakarai Allen started five games last season and hauled in four scores. Trystn Ducker, Randy Baker, and Levi Falck all had double digits in receptions, while youngsters Reggie Crawford, Caleb Vander Esch, and Jack Peevy are all expected to be a presence in the passing game in 2018.
Running the football, the Coyotes will be looking to build depth behind Mike Fredrick. The senior was USD's leading running back in 2017, scoring seven touchdowns and picking up more than 700 yards. Ben Klett and Kai Henry each saw a lot of action as freshmen last season and should rack up more carries this season. Incoming freshman Canaan Cox ran for better 2,100 yards in high school last season.
Up front, the Coyotes have something most teams would die for - five players who all have starting experience. But there are some question marks. Two of those five, Nick Jensen and Mason Scheidegger, are returning from injuries that kept them, out of spring practice. Tanner Anderson, Cody Jennings, and Tyler Ciurej all return from last season's line.
I talked with Austin Simmons about taking over as the number-one quarterback and what he expects from the USD offense in 2018: