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USD Coyotes or Coyote Ugly?

A big win versus UND last week, now onto the South Dakota schools in back to back weekends, starting with the Coyotes. If you have been reading my analysis’s for awhile, you know I don’t mince words, so here goes: this rendition of USD is Coyote Ugly.

Let’s give this some context. First, USD has the misfortune of playing in the MVFC. The last three years if they were in the OVC or Southland they would have made another playoff appearance and probably had winning records all three years. In 2017 they made a playoff run, including their first FBS victory over Bowling Green and a first round playoff win against Nicholls before giving everything they wanted to Sam Houston. Throwing out FBS preseason games, the MVFC wins about 85% of its non-conference match ups. Many early round playoff teams play powder puff non-conference schedules (except a loss to an FBS team which doesn’t hurt you with the selection committee), then they rack up wins in their weaker conference schedule and “Voila” they’re in the playoffs. I also base this on that USD’s Sagarin ratings rank with those of bottom and bubble playoff teams, including this year (USD is ranked 151, only 18 playoff eligible teams in front of them). As with any MVFC team, you can’t take that week off in your preparations or level of play.

Why the ugly rating then? They have played enough games to show who they really are and that’s what’s not pretty.

Let’s start with how the Yotes are playing defense. They rank 71st in total defense out of 91 FCS teams with game stats this spring giving up 416 YPG. Since UND is averaging 416 YPG on offense I am going to throw out that game since it’s a wash and concentrate on USD’s other three opponents (YSU, the now departed ISU and Mo. State). These three teams averaged 254.2 YPG in the other ten games they played, but combined they averaged 386 YPG versus the Coyotes. Lesson: if you want to get your offense going, play the Yotes.

How are they at stopping the run? These same teams in the other ten games versus MVFC teams only managed 132.4 YPG, but against USD they averaged 209 YPG. On the NCAA stat board, the Yotes come in at 78th of the 91 teams in stopping the run. Again, if you want to have a good run game, play USD.

Any other defensive blemishes? Are they good at stopping drives? No, opponents pick up 50% of their 3rd down tries (that ranks 72nd in the nation). How about putting pressure on the QB with lots of sacks? Not so much. They are tied for 52nd in the land with six in four games. How about the disruption of TFL’s (tackles for loss)? They rank even lower at 80th in the FCS with just 4.2/game. Oh, by the way, they aren’t good at defending the pass either, ranking 50th at 192.8 YPG. They let opposing passers complete 60% of their throws and allow them to stay on the field copious amounts of time to do their damage (rank 80th in Time of Possession).

The Coyotes last three tries at stopping the Herd have been abysmal. With their 2017 playoff squad they yielded 414.7 YPG. We gained 647 yards. They were middle of the pack in stopping the run at 150.4 YPG. The Rams blew them up for 340 yards rushing. It got worse in 2018. Their defensive stats were 430.1 YPG in total defense and 210.9 YPG in rushing defense. We blew them up to the tune of 384 yards rushing and 560 total yards. In 2019 we set our school record for total offense in a MVFC game at 700 with an astounding 419 yards on the ground. These three years we scored 49, 56 and 49 points. Now that is a downright UGLY three year track record! Show me what has changed personnel wise or with their defensive scheme? Why should I expect a different outcome?

What will Code Green face? It won’t be like the 2017 Coyotes who were second in the nation in total offense at 523.6 YPG, 4th in scoring at 38.2 PPG and were very efficient in the run game with 190.5 YPG (28th). Streveler was a one man wrecking crew passing for 4,134 yards and leading the Yotes in rushing with 720 yards. He ran for 113 against Code Green, but it was between the 20’s. They couldn’t man up in the red zone, hence the 14 points. In 2018 their new dual threat QB (Austin Simmons) got 115 yards, but it was more of the same between the 20’s stuff. Coyotes were held to only 336 total yards and 14 points again. 2019 was a repeat, but on a downward trajectory. When they fell behind 28-0, they couldn’t get a pass game going on 11 of 19 for 73 yards and five sacks, so they ran for meaningless yards between the 20’s again. Same result of 14 points with every player on our defensive bench playing the fourth quarter (scout squad).

This year we will face a Coyote team that is 53rd in total offense at a miserly 323.8 YPG, they haven’t gotten it out of first gear in the run game (sitting at 83rd in FCS with a paltry 80.2 YPG) and are 65th in scoring offense at 17.8 PPG. They are bad on giving up tackles for a loss (84th in FCS with 9.25/game) and even worse in allowing sacks being the second worst in all of the FCS with 20 allowed (5/game).

Their freshman QB, Carson Camp, is mobile in the pocket, but not a quick twitch run threat like his two predecessors. He has ten runs for 76 yards gained, but this blows up with the 20 sacks for 115 yards lost. He throws a good ball (when given time) and is accurate (82 for 130 for 63.1%, 4 INTs and 241.8 YPG). We can’t let this youngster get comfortable. They play an up tempo style offense and have possession, sure handed receivers, but no really deep burners like Isaiah Weston or Cade Johnson.

So I don’t end up writing a book on all this data, what does this look like for Saturday’s game? If the Herd doesn’t score 40 or more points and Code Green doesn’t hold them to 10 points or less while stuffing the run and racking up sacks, then they haven’t played up to their ability. Yes the Coyotes are that ugly.

This is a key developmental game that the Herd can’t lose the opportunity to cash in on, especially before SDSU & UNI. To date, we haven’t gotten into a good rhythm in any game yet on both sides of the ball. This is that game. We should be able to mix pass and run at will. If TK Marshall and Nathan Goldade aren’t totting the rock midway thru the 4th quarter I will be deeply disappointed.

USD, historically, is a lot like the low & mid level playoff teams we play early in the playoffs. They tend to be longer on offense and short on defense. They don’t have the personnel to dominate the lines of scrimmage on either side of the ball, so they try to use gimmicks (hurry up, wingy-dingy offenses and lots of blitzes on defense). It’s time for the Herd to get consistent in all phases of the game. USD has provided that type of game late in the season the last three years. Last week in my UND preview I said I didn’t see the Hawks talent level any higher than it was with their 2105 & 2019 team rosters. This showed up on the field. The same goes with this week with the Yotes. Same stew, same results. It should be a dominant win for the Bison.

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