VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — USD is gearing up for its home opener after dropping game one to Missouri out of the SEC.

The Coyotes allowed more than 200 rushing yards against the Tigers. They are now matching up against a Tommies squad that put up 225 yards on the ground in its win over Black Hills State.

“They’ve got good, hard running backs,” USD Head Coach Bob Nielson said. “Certainly that’s the thing that you have to do first and foremost defensively is you have to have a plan and to contain and and slow down their their run game.”

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, USD is looking for more balance as the Yotes rushed for just 38 yards on 35 carries.

“If we get better balance, we feel like we’ve got a chance to be a really good offensive football team,” Nielson said. “And that balance starts with an ability to run the football better than we did Thursday night.”

The St. Thomas game is the first of two straight weeks that the Coyotes will play at the DakotaDome. This season marks the first time since 2019 that the Yotes have two non-conference home games.

“It’s a really important stretch in our schedule,” Nielson said. “To have two non-conference games at home is is in a row is something that we just haven’t had the ability to have happen in in our schedule in here in recent years.”

USD is working out the kinks early in the season, before hitting conference play later this month.

“First games, you know, give you a chance to gauge where you’re at,” Nielson said. “There were some things that were really good, some things that we say, hey, you know, we got to really focus on these things to take the next step forward as a football team.”

The Coyotes and Tommies kick off Saturday at 1 p.m.