The USD Coyotes opened the 2019 season with a 31-17 loss to Montana in the Dakota Dome last Saturday. Montana was able to convert nearly 65 percent of their third down attempts while dominating the time of possession as the Grizzlies owned the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
“We’ve got to play more consistently on both sides of the football. We had opportunities to get them off the field defensively, we had opportunities to put the ball in the end zone offensively and didn’t get either of those accomplished in the times we need to get them done,” USD Coach Bob Nielson said.
“I think just being more consistent all the way around, especially down in the redzone just finishing off drives and getting points, getting touchdowns is probably the biggest takeaway offensively,” USD quarteback Austin Simmons said.
Now the Coyotes turn their attention to one of the best teams in the country. USD will travel to play the Oklahoma Sooners who are ranked fourth in the country at the FBS level.
“Well we don’t have a lot of games that aren’t against quality competition; it’s one of the commitments we’ve made here to play an outstanding schedule. Certainly we get to play one of the nation’s best and one of the premier programs in the country this week in Oklahoma,” Nielson said.
“Obviously we know they’re a really good team and one of the best teams in the country, not only FCS, but FBS too. We don’t really want to get ourselves psyched out for that. If you start thinking about stuff like that too much, then you’re not going to be focusing on your keys or what you have to to win the game,” USD defensive lineman Darin Greenfield said.
The Sooner offense has no shortage of weapons at every position and they are led by their quarterback Jalen Hurts who will be contending for the 2019 Heisman Trophy.
“Got outstanding talent at every position and you’ve got to keep them away from the chunk plays, try to make them work the ball down the field. That’s one of the big things you have to do against a team that’s got weapons, is try to keep the ball in front of you, make plays and get them into third down situations,” Nielson said.
“The thing that we’ve been focusing on as a defensive line is not letting Jalen Hurts really step up and get out of the pocket too much. Keep him contained within and don’t give him those extra few seconds to make those throws,” Greenfield said.
Oklahoma opened their season with a 49-31 victory over Houston in Oklahoma. The Sooners saw more than 84,000 fans stream into last week’s game, meaning that the Coyotes may have some noise complaints when they play on Saturday.
“We prepare for communication issues all the time and we play in some tough environments in our league, you know the Fargo Dome, but that environment is going to test our communication and we’ve got to be able to play and communicate the way we need too,” Nielson said.
The Coyotes will have their hands full as they cross paths with one of the best teams in the nation, but it’ll be a great test for this year’s squad.
“I think anytime you’re playing an opponent like Oklahoma, you’re going against some of the best personnel you’re going to see the whole year and we’ve talked about that as a team. So I think getting a chance to go up against those guys will help us down the road for sure too,” Simmons said.
“Well, that’s why you play college football. A chance to play the very best in the country, a chance to compete at a high level and that’s what this game provides our guys the opportunity to do,” Nielson said.
The Coyotes will play in Norman, Oklahoma, against the Sooners on Saturday. Kick-off is set for 6:00.