2021 FCS Season Preview: South Dakota

CSJ Predicted Order of Finish: 8th

Coach: Bob Nielson (Sixth Season, 22-29 @ USD, 208-109-1 overall)

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Offensive Coordinator: Ted Schlafke
Defensive Coordinator: Travis Johansen
Stadium: DakotaDome (9,100 capacity)

Location: Vermillion, South Dakota
2021 Spring Record: 1-3 (1-3 MVFC)

South Dakota started the spring season off with a bang with a road win at Illinois State. However, the Coyotes would lose their next and last three games to finish 1-3 on the season.

USD started Carson Camp as the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener in recorded history at USD. He was the Valley’s second-leading passer and ranked 16th nationally at 241 yards per game. He is one of just two quarterbacks in the conference to average more than 200 yards passing. He completed 82-of-130 passes for 967 yards in four games and was named an All-MVFC newcomer.

WR Caleb Vander Esch

He will have his top wide out back in Caleb Vander Esch, who will bes a sixth-year senior this fall. He has led the Coyotes in both catches and receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. He made 23 catches for 273 yards and hauled in a touchdown during the four games this spring. He ranked fourth in the Valley in both catches and yards per game.

LBs Brock Mogensen and Jack Cochrane, DE Jacob Matthew, and CB Myles Harden should be the core for the Coyote defense. Mogensen was the team’s leading tackler last spring with 38, while Matthew led the Coyotes in both sacks and tackles-for-loss in each of the last two seasons. Cochrane was an All-MVFC performer in 2019 2019 when he led the league in tackles during the regular season and remains the Coyotes’ active leader in tackles with 224. Harden led the nation in passes defended per game last year after tallying two interceptions and seven pass breakups in his four games.

The Coyotes also have a strong punter in Brady Schutt. He has turned in the fourth-best punting average in the nation in each of the last two seasons, and last spring, he led the nation’s top-ranked punting unit with a net of 43.7 yards per punt. 

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