Tuesday, April 12, 2011

South Dakota Coyotes 2010 Review

2010 Record: 4-7 (1-3), 4th Great West
2010 Postseason: None
2010 Schedule/Results: @ UCF, L 38-7; @ Minnesota, W 41-38; NW Oklahoma State, W 48-14; @ North Dakota State, L 38-16; North Dakota, W 27-17; @ UC-Davis, L 17-13; Northern Iowa, L 19-14; @ Southern Utah, L 31-13; Northern Colorado, W 34-6; Cal Poly, L 38-24; @ Lamar, L 24-20


     So let's start with what went right. Not much, but a win over Minnesota is huge, even if the Gophers were a complete joke in 2010. Anytime a team goes from the FCS and the Great West Conference and drops the hammer on a Big 10 foe, it's a huge deal. That was a great win for the Coyotes, and unfortunately (you guessed it, on to the bad) they never could build off of it. South Dakota lacked any kind of momentum or consistency, and only once did they put together any kind of a win streak (2 games including Minnesota and NW Oklahoma State, a D2 team). If there was one word to describe them in 2010, it was "random".
     It was hard to blame anything on Dante Warren last fall. Warren gave it all that he had. His junior year was as solid as you could hope for, as he passed for 2137 yards and 18 TDs, while showing poise in only tosssing 6 picks all season. He added another 206 yards rushing and a team leading 6 TDs. You could not really ask any more than that from him, and he'll try to challenge Southern Utah's Sorensen for the title of league's best QB next fall. He was sacked 20 times, so the task will be to buy time with his feet to get the ball out of the backfield.
     Chris Ganious was the primary back for the Coyotes in 2010. Ganious, also a junior, carried the ball 188 times on the season for 752 yards and 4 TDs. He'll have to increase the scoring load of USD wants to have a shot at shocking some folks next fall. His 4 yard per carry average is also good, but could be better, and will need to be. Marcus Sims was the primary reserve as a sophomore, but only managed 52-270-1, and missed two games.
     Will Powell was the favorite receiver for Warren in 2010. Powell may have had a modest number of catches, but he made it work for him. On the season, Powell collected a line of 47-933-10. Powell will return as a junior in 2011, giving USD a possible trinity of returning production that's so important to have. Dustin Nowotny (34-489-1), and Tom Flanagan (34-324-2) were the only other significant receivers, and both return with Powell to form a 3 headed monster.
     The defense was pretty much lost in space for most of the season, but found interesting and odd times to show up again. They gave up 396 yards per game in 2010, but never gave up more than 38 points. That seems like a lot, but when you think about most teams that finish 4-7, they tend to give up bigger chunks of points in bursts. USD never did that.
      Shea Williams, a junior LB, led the team in tackles, and should be a building block for what is hoped will be an improved veteran unit in 2011. Williams collected 89 tackles on the season. 4 other Coyote defenders were able to collect 50 tackles or more. Shane Potter (76), Adam Broders (75), Aaron Swift (61), and Cory Kuehl (57) composed that group. All return with the exception of Kuehl next fall, giving the Coyotes a solid unit to build on for next season.
     That being said, the Coyotes failed at applying pressure to the backfield. Broders and Williams led the team with 6.5 TFLs on the season, which falls way flat to spectacular. A new scheme must be built up to get the Coyotes more opportunities to get into the backfield. If they cannot do so, then they will again be open to being killed by big plays. Nobody had more than 3 sacks on the season, so that to is an area of heavy concern.
     The secondary took some lumps as well, and has to get fixed. Very few players had any ball skills in the back four, and only Dametrius Turner and Chris Frierson had 2 picks on the season. Turner took one of his back to the house. The great news here, is that both were mere freshmen in 2010, so they have lots of room to improve.
     The hero of the special teams unit was punter Cole Zwiefelhofer. As a sophomore, Zwiefelhofer hammered his punts for an average of 43.2 yards per punt. His leg will be back in the fold for 2011, giving USD an incredible weapon.


South Dakota will be playing their final season in the Great West in 2011. The Coyotes will be returning a very good core group of players, and even though there were deficiencies last fall, there is potential for major improvement across the board next fall. The Coyotes will be my dark horse for the conference title in 2011, but to do so, they will have to become consistent, which is something that they have had trouble with since joining division 1 ranks.

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