South Dakota Preview: #22 Coyotes at #11 Weber State
Almost as quickly as it started the non-conference portion of the 2018 season comes to a close for South Dakota as they head to Weber State, Saturday (September 15) night in Ogden, Utah.
The game is part of the Missouri Valley Conference - Big Sky Conference challenge.
The Wildcats (1-1) are coming off a school-record 11-win season in 2017. They beat Cal Poly on the road last week after opening with a loss at Utah.
In last week's victory, redshirt freshman running back Josh Davis made the most of his first opportunity of the season, running for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
WSU runs the ball about twice as much as they throw it. The Wildcats have completed just 20 passes in two games. The Coyotes have connected 55 times through the air in the first two weeks while still trying to find a running game.
Weber State has given up nearly 500 yards of rushing in the first two games against run-oriented teams. They have a talented front seven led by linebackers Landon Slice and LeGrand Toia. Slice has 19 tackles so far this season. Toia was an All-American in 2017.
Both teams have been impressive in creating turnovers in 2018. USD is plus-six and has yet to commit a turnover. Weber State is plus-five overall with one lost fumble by the offense.
Kickoff is 7:00 PM CT in Ogden, Utah, Saturday.
The game is one of two this week to feature head-to-head match-ups of Top 25 FCS teams. The other is number-13 Nicholls at number-16 McNeese.
Last weekend (September 8), the Coyotes kicked off the home portion of their 2018 schedule with a 43-28 win over Northern Colorado.
The offenses were clicking early as both USD and UNC strung together back-to-back touchdown drives to start the game and it was 14-14 after one quarter.
In the second, the Coyote defense rose up, first with a Phillip Powell interception and then forcing consecutive punts from Northern Colorado.
The USD offense showed no signs of slowing down during that stretch with quarterback Austin Simmons igniting a run of 20 unanswered points to put the Coyotes up 34-14 at intermission.
Simmons' first-half numbers were impressive - 21-of-26 passing for 342 yards and four touchdowns. He also broke off a 45-yard run.
After a scoreless third quarter, Northern Colorado made things interesting with back-to-back long touchdown drives in the fourth to draw to within six, but the USD offense responded with a seven-play 82-yard scoring drive, keyed by a 60-yard completion from Simmons to Shamar Jackson.
The Coyotes sealed the win on the ensuing kickoff when Jake Matthew forced a fumble that was recovered by kicker Ethan James. USD converted the turnover into a field goal.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Bob Nielson about the win over Northern Colorado and the match-up with Weber State: