Year three begins for Bob Nielson has head coach of the South Dakota football team. In year two, the Coyotes won their first-ever FCS playoff game, and finished the season ranked 16th in the country.
The biggest challenge USD faces this year is replacing quarterback Chris Streveler, who was the Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.
To do that, the ‘Yotes have turned to junior Austin Simmons.
Simmons got a few snaps last year, throwing for 197 yards and four touchdowns. Now, he looks to step out of the shadow of Streveler’s numerous school records.
"I’ve put more of a positive spin on it," said Simmons. "I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself with that. I’m more looking at what he did, and I’m like, ‘okay, how can I incorporate that into my game, or how can I use that as something to help benefit me?’"
On defense, USD gave up almost 27 points per game last year.
But Sheldon, Iowa native Darin Greenfield had a breakout season, leading the Coyotes with 9 sacks and garnering first-team Missouri Valley Conference honors.
Greenfield starts this year as a preseason All-American, and is on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the FCS’ top defensive player.
"I want to have better stats, because that mean’s we’re doing better as a defense," said Greenfield. "I want everyone to have the stats like that, but overall, I just want to win."
"We definitely have the athletic ability and the maturity on this team to get back there, and that’s one of the things that I’ve felt over the summer, is just the dedication to the game, to get better."
South Dakota begins their season on the road, at Kansas State, on September 1st.