SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana had a slow start last Saturday against Wayne State as the Vikings trailed 13-3 at halftime, however Augie outscored the Wildcats 23-0 in the second half to give the Vikings their second win of the season.
“We’ve got to execute better, you know we just didn’t play well in the first half offensively and we didn’t play well in the first two series defensively, so really it’s about execution and I don’t care who you’re playing, if you don’t execute, you’re not going to be successful,” Augustana football coach Jerry Olszewski said.
“That’s what I want to see. They’ll be plenty of passion, they’ll be plenty of effort in this ball game and I just want to make sure that we play sound football and that we execute. Do your job and not your partners’ job and everything is going to be just fine,” Olszewski said.
The Vikings will now turn their attention to the USF Cougars and the annual Key to the City game. The Augie defense will have its hand full trying to slow down a Cougar offense led by quarterback Caden Walters that is scoring 34 points per game this season.
“Well they’re playing confident, number one, and they’ve moved the ball and did some good things in their previous games and I think they take a great amount of pride in running the ball and they’re doing it really well. I think Caden is throwing the ball pretty darn well right now. They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Olszewski said.
“Caden, me and him worked together this summer, so it’ll be fun to go up against him, but he’s a big threat when it comes to be able to make plays with his feet and extending the drive with his feet and the pass game and he’s always that threat for the quarterback pull,” Augustana Defensive Back Michael Kloza said.
Augustana is looking to end a three-game losing skid to USF and they’ll try to do that by focusing on themselves and their game plan.
“We need to execute. We need to play good football. They’re a good football team, they know how to win and so do we. So it’s going to come down to execution and the big play, I think the team that has some explosive plays is probably going to have the advantage in it. It’s always an emotion game and a physical game and we’re ready for both and we’ve been waiting a game for this one,” Olszewski said.
The USF Cougars have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams, including last year’s 51-13 win at Augustana.
“It’s bragging rights definitely and something that we take a lot of pride in, but those are all those past teams and all those players that played in those games, they approached it in a certain way and were successful and that’s where our focus is at this week,” USF Head Coach Jon Anderson said.
After a rough start to the season, the Cougar defense has allowed less than 20 points in the last two games and will look to continue that success on Thursday.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play our technique, play our game and I don’t think we did that our first game. We kind of came out and had some hiccups, but it’s been more of us playing our brand of football and knowing what we have to do to get those stops and the stops are coming right to us if we do what we’re supposed to do when we’re playing,” USF Senior Defensive Back Tucker Stout said.
The Cougar defense will face many challenges against the Augustana offense including quarterback Kyle Saddler and the top passing offense in the Northern Sun Conference.
“The quarterback has done a nice job at finding the guys that are open and they’re balanced, he doesn’t just look at one of them. So we need to be able to know where he wants to put the football based on the coverage’s we present to them and based on the routes that they’re going. We’ve got to win some 50/50 battles and some jump ball battles,” Anderson said.
Last season, the Cougar defense gave up nearly 500 yards of total offense, however USF was able to force five turnovers and only allow the Vikings to score 13 points.
“Yards don’t matter in that situation, last year. It was bend but don’t break with the lead that we had and don’t give them anything for free. For this year’s game, turnovers in every football game are going to be critical and then you throw in the element of a big game, a hyped game, and it’s going to be who takes care of the little things,” Anderson said.
Last year, the two teams saw over 6,000 people stream into the stadium and this year’s game will have even more excitement as it will be played under the lights in primetime on Thursday night.
“You know it’s always a great atmosphere and it’s always fun to play in. We always see those guys around town so it’s for bragging rights all year, so it’d be great to have that last one,” Kloza said.
“I mean the hype is always there, every year. It’s Augie vs. USF, it’s the rivalry of two schools that are three blocks away from each other. I’ve been excited for it every single year since I got here and I’ve played in each game since I’ve been on the team and it’s always the most exciting game of the year,” Stout said.
The Vikings and Cougars will clash for the Key to the City on Thursday. Kick-off is set for 6:05 p.m. at Bob Young Field.