South Dakota Preview: #6 Coyotes Host #3 Youngstown State
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Four games into what has been a perfect 2017 season so far for the University of South Dakota football team, the Coyotes have hammered out a winning formula: score early and often and take your opponent of out their game.
USD has an astounding 132-22 edge on the scoreboard in the first halves of games this season. Something they hope to duplicate against a top five team this week.
Getting off to a fast start Saturday (October 7) against number-three Youngstown State will be one of the keys to this Missouri Valley Conference match-up.
The Penguins (3-1/1-0 in MVFC) have come up with their own winning formula, after rolling offensively in their league opener at home against South Dakota State. In that 19-7 win, YSU gained 310 yards on the ground, which allowed them to dominate the tempo of the game, running 86 plays to SDSU's 37.
In all, Youngstown held the ball for more than three-quarters of the game (45:14).
That Penguin running attack is keyed by a talented offensive line and a pair of ruinning backs, Tevin McCaster and Christian Turner, who aren't overly big, but run the ball effectively inside.
South Dakota (4-0/1-0 MVFC) will counter with a defense that shut down a Western Illinois team that had been averaging 243 yards per game rushing, holding the Leathernecks to just 33 last weekend in Macomb.
Youngstown State is expected to get starting quarterback Hunter Wells back for the USD game. Wells went down early in the SDSU game and was replaced by Nathan Mays.
Defensively, YSU gives up the fifth fewest yards in the country (245), the third fewest through the air (123). Pressuring the quarterback is a big reason why those numbers are so low. The Penguins notched ten sacks in their first three games of the year, with Florida transfer Justus Reed collecting four.
The Coyotes have a variety of weapons in the passing game. Nine different receivers combined for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the Western Illinois win.
Kickoff in Vermillion is 2:00 PM, Saturday.
USD has jumped as high as number-six in this week's FCS Polls.
In last weekend's 38-33 win in Macomb, South Dakota welcomed receiver Brandt Van Roekel back to the lineup for the first time since week one and he responded with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Streveler threw three TD passes in all and ran for another 89 yards an a score.
The Coyote offense also got a break in the second half when lineman Stetson Dagel fell on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown giving USD a 38-6 lead at the time.
Those would be the final points of the afternoon for South Dakota, who withstood 27 straight points from the Leathernecks to secure the win.
Steve McShane returned a punt 77 yards to set up one WIU score. Jaelon Acklin caught 19 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
The rally was extinguished in the final minute when USD's Danny Rambo picked off a pass.
I talked with Nielson about the Western Illinois win and the match-up with Youngstown State: