South Dakota Preview: Coyotes at Missouri State
Which team has the greatest success in the Missouri Valley Conference each season is often decided by what happens away from home and this week the first league road test for South Dakota involves a trip to a place they haven't been in a while.
When the Coyotes (2-3/1-0 MVFC) play at Missouri State Saturday (October 12), it will be their first visit to Springfield since the 2014 season.
USD has faced the Bears twice in Vermillion twice since then, winning both games including last season's 35-28 victory which saw the two offenses combine for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.
Missouri State (1-3/1-0 MVFC) returns their top offensive weapon from that team. Senior quarterback Peyton Huslig passed for 283 yards and ran for 102 yards in the DakotaDome last season. He's coming in off of a career-high 28 completion day in a triple-overtime win at Western Illinois last weekend. In that game, he threw for 315 yards and had four touchdown passes to a trio of different receivers.
South Dakota head coach Bob Nielson told me going against this offense at their place is going to be a challenge:
Defensively, Missouri State has been having trouble giving up big plays this season, eight touchdowns of 55 yards or more from their four opponents.
Linebacker McNeese Egbim is the Bears' leading tackler while defensive end Matt McClellan has three of MSU's four sacks this season.
Nielson remembers McClellan from last year's match-up when he sacked Coyote quarterback Austin Simmons twice:
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday (October 12) in Springfield, Missouri.
The Coyotes stay on the road next week when they play at Northern Iowa, Saturday October 19.
USD's 38-0 win over Indiana State in the conference opener last weekend was the Coyotes' first shutout in nearly two years and it began with a statement drive from the offense which mixed the run and pass to go 75 yards in ten plays to take an early 7-0 lead.
That was the beginning of a day which saw South Dakota rack up 522 yards of total offense, 312 of those on the ground.
Simmons led the way with his arm and legs, completing 15-of-25 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown and running for 138 yards and three scores. The performance earned him Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors. Redshirt freshman right tackle Isaac Erbes was the Offensive Lineman of the Week in the MVFC.
Neilson says that first drive against the Sycamores set the tone for the rest of the game:
The Coyote defense did their part all day especially in the first half when Darin Greenfield forced a fumble and Mike Johnson added in an interception. The defense sealed the shutout with a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.
Nielson says forcing those early turnovers was huge:
So now with back-to-back wins, the Coyotes are a confident group heading to Missouri State. Neilson says his team needs to continue to build on the successes of the last two games: