It was a throwback to the 1970s for the South Dakota football team this Spring - all outdoor workouts during Spring Camp because of ongoing renovations in the DakotaDome.

A large part of the 15 practices on USD's new on-campus workout facility focused on two things – incorporating a new defense and trying to find a way to be more efficient offensively in the red zone.

New defensive coordinator Travis Johansen is in his first season in Vermillion after coming over from Grand View University and he’ll be trying to work in a host of new faces at linebacker and defensive back.

At linebacker, USD is welcoming junior college transfers Sam Gerst and Brady Booker while moving Jakari Starling from safety to increase depth in a group that graduated three players from last year’s squad.

The secondary also lost pair of starters, but Mark Collins is back healthy after missing four games last season.

The defensive line is the most veteran group on that side of the ball with Darin Greenfield back for his senior year. He’s joined by returning starters Jacob Headlee, Luis Peguero, and Nick Kramer.

On offense, senior quarterback Austin Simmons begins his second season as the starter. He led the Missouri Valley Conference with 284 passing yards and 314 all-purpose yards per game in 2018.

He’ll have plenty of talented players to throw the ball to this season, including Dakari Allen, who had more than 700 receiving yards last season, Levi Falck, Trystn Ducker, and a healthy Kody Case.

Running the ball will be juniors Ben Klett and Kai Henry who have combined for better than 1,500 yards in their careers.

The offensive line is young and looking to replace two starters.

The kicking game is in good hands with junior punter Brady Schutt and junior placekicker Mason Lorber, who each ranked third in their respective categories in the MVFC last season.

I talked with USD head coach Bob Nielson about the just completed Spring Camp:

The Coyotes open the 2019 season at home with Montana before heading to Oklahoma in week two.

The Missouri Valley Conference opener is at home with Indiana State, October 5.

USD hosts the South Dakota Showdown Series game with South Dakota State, November 23.


  • August 31 - MONTANA
  • September 7 - at Oklahoma
  • September 14 - HOUSTON BAPTIST
  • September 21 - at Northern Colorado
  • October 5  - INDIANA STATE
  • October 12 - at Missouri State
  • October 19 - at Northern Iowa
  • October 26 - SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
  • November 2 - at Western Illinois
  • November 9 - YOUNGSTOWN STATE
  • November 16 - at North Dakota State
  • November 23 - SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

The Coyotes were 4-7 in 2018, losing five of their last six games a season after qualifying for the FCS Playoffs for the first time in school history.

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