Root beer floats are underrated and delicious.
And now… Impressions from watching USD’s football team scrimmage and talking to head coach Ed Meierkort.
The new logo on the helmets will be the plain, intertwined “SD”. It is simple and clean and kind of dull, but it gets the “South Dakota” out there which is what they wanted. It replaces the Coyote paw with the “U” in the middle.
Apparently, the helmets are new, too, and they are “concussion resistant” or something like that. They are supposed to take hits better and protect brains better and prevent concussions. And they look pretty cool.
The Coyotes lost 5 players to graduation… tight ends London Landry and Mitch Mohr, linebackers Cory Keuhl and Eric Leon, and offensive lineman Scott Slotten. All good players who played a lot… 4 of them started.
But with only 5 guys gone that means there are a ton of guys back. They say they have 19 starters returning but I think that includes the kicker, Kevin Robb (coming off a great freshman year last year) and the punter Cole Zwiefel-eiffeltower-hofenheimer (coming off a really great sophomore season).
However you count it, they have almost everybody back at almost every position.
Quarterback Dante Warren is now a fifth-year senior. He says his arm is stronger than last year and his head is on even straighter than it was a year ago when he took over as the starter. I got some goosebumps when he talked about "this is our time and we don't get another shot at it". I got the impression that he and his fellow seniors are not messing around this year.
Wide receiver Will Powell is already a junior! He says he is faster than last year and leaner and meaner. He looks like a model for Abercrombie and Fitch. He is going to have another big year catching the football.
The offensive tackles, Tom Compton and R.J. Polley are monsters. They both put on another 10 pounds and both tip the table over at 300-plus.
There was a lot of talk about being able to run the ball. Gotta be able to run it to protect a lead and put games away in the 4th quarter which the Yotes had trouble with last year. (See NDSU, Northern Iowa and Cal Poly. Good first half for USD, not so good second half = 3 losses.)
Chris Ganious is back at running back and Meierkort says Ganious will be good for another 800 yard season. Marcus Sims will carry the load when the Yotes want to go with a more straight-ahead ground game. And don’t know if he will redshirt or not, but Noah Pearl is a freshman from Kansas City and he looks good! He is fast and does not like to be tackled. He was the most impressive player on the offense for the hour or so that I watched.
The other part of that 4th quarter problem from last year was that the defense was good for 45 minutes and then would shut it down for the final 15. The players will admit this. So there will be a big emphasis not only on running the ball to put games away, but also on keeping the D awake and engaged for the full 60 minutes.
The top two tacklers are back, linebackers Adam Broders and Shea Williams. (And Shea, what’s with the hair? None of this in-between, semi-mullet stuff please. Hopefully, you will put some Miracle Gro on it and be back to the long, flowing locks by mid-season. Thanks.)
The USD schedule is going to be a little strange… almost like two separate seasons with the first five being a mix of the Big Ten and the Little Eight (or whatever conference Lindenwood is in). Then you have the last six games that include the four Great West Conference games. And whatever you think of the GWC it has at least given transition teams like USD a chance to play for something. Dante Warren says that winning the conference title is Goal Number One this year. The media and coaches pick the Coyotes to finish fourth in the 5-team league, but what do they know.
I know this… it will be fun to follow them this year. We will have them on TV twice… Eastern Washington at USD on 9/10 and Missouri S&T at USD on 11/12.
The new, red seats at the DakotaDome look nice and are actually somewhat comfy. Hopefully, Coyote Nation will show up, fill them up and get behind Ed’s boys this fall.