‘It’s been tough on our guys,’ USD football looks for answers in an unusual season

KELOLAND.com Original

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Following another positive COVID-19 test within USD’s tier one personnel, the Coyotes were forced to cancel Saturday’s game against in state rival, SDSU.

“I don’t want to say that our players weren’t surprised. They knew full well what we were dealing with over the course of the weekend and the likelihood of the game this week and it not being played,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “Our players have become very educated on COVID protocol as well.”

The SDSU game wasn’t the only Coyote contest to be cancelled on Monday. Western Illinois opted out of the remainder of the season, which forced USD’s fourth straight cancellation.

“Our scheduled game for April 17 has also been cancelled. It’s been tough on our guys. I’ll be the first to say you know obviously, you combine that with the fact that we are still dealing with a COVID issue as we move ahead through the course and the rest of this week,” Nielson said.

USD has the option of trying to schedule a game for April 17.

“Whatever we do in the spring, we don’t want it to impact our ability to put our best team forward in the fall,” Nielson said. “I’m think this more than ever right now, based on where we are at with vaccination trends, particularly in the state of South Dakota. I firmly believe we’ve got a very high likelihood of the fall of 2021 being the way the fall should be.”

The 2021 season has been bizarre in many ways with uncertainty being the most frustrating factor.

“The one thing that those guys really want right and the one thing that they probably deserve more than anything is some certainty about what we’re doing,” Nielson said. “We’re trying to use that as part of our internal conversation here to make a decision to where we go from here. Obviously, we don’t have any games right now.”

USD has played four games this season in 2021, which has led to several opportunities for the Yotes.

“You look at those four games and those were four bonus games that every one of our guys got, with the NCAA’s rule to not count this year of eligibility,” Nielson said. “Those four games were opportunities to play with their teammates, opportunities for our team to grow together, opportunities for us as coaches to find out more about our team.”

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