After starting 2019 Missouri Valley Conference play with a bang, South Dakota is reeling and hoping for better things as they return home this week.

The Coyotes (3-6/2-3 MVFC) host Youngstown State, Saturday (November 9).

After back-to-back wins to start league play, outscoring opponents 83-10 in the process, USD has dropped three straight games and is in real danger of posting a second straight losing season.

They'll face a Penguins (5-4/1-4 MVFC) team this week that has lost four of five after starting year 4-0 and will now be without starting quarterback Nathan Mays for the rest of the season after he suffered an ankle injury in last week's loss to North Dakota State.

Freshman Mark Waid and sophomore Joe Craycraft will continue what has already been a rotation at quarterback for YSU.

USD head coach Bob Nielson told me he doesn't expect things to be much different from Penguin offense:

Defensively, this Youngstown team is continuing a long tradition of having talent on the line to pressure quarterbacks and force turnovers.

Justus Reed has four sacks and a league-leading eight tackles for loss in five Valley games, while Ma'lik Richmond has three sacks and DeMarco Craig has five tackles.

Nielson says it's another test for the USD offensive line:

Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday at the DakotaDome.

The Youngstown State game is the beginning of a season-ending three-game stretch against some of the perennial powers in the Missouri Valley with North Dakota State and South Dakota State to follow.

Nielson says the match-ups present some big opportunities for the Coyotes:

South Dakota's latest setback came in a 38-34 loss at Western Illinois last weekend (November 2). The win was the first for the Leathernecks in their last eleven games.

USD's offense was clicking in the first half, turning an early 7-0 deficit into a 17-7 lead at intermission thanks to converting on 7-of-11 on third down, racking up nearly 140 yards on the ground, and holding the ball for nearly 20 minutes.

Despite the success, Nielson says there were some missed opportunities along the way:

The two teams went back-and-forth in the second half with five lead changes in the fourth quarter. USD's final lead came with 1:24 left, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty backed the ensuing kickoff to the 20-yard line and gave WIU great field position at their own 41.

Nielson says those 'gift yards' were huge:

At the end of the day, the Coyotes were flagged 14 times for 160 yards - both season highs. Nielson says a number of factors contributed to the excessive number of penalties:

South Dakota finished the day with 578 yards of total offense, the second-most this season, but it wasn't enough to stop their current skid. Nielson says it's been a tough stretch for his team: