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Gophers-South Dakota preview
This Saturday the Minnesota Golden Gophers play South Dakota Coyotes for the 2010 home opener. The Coyotes are in the FCS division and play in the Great West Conference. They had a solid season in 2009 going 5-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Their two wins placed the Coyotes tied for second in the five-team Great West Conference last season. USD’s five losses all came to FCS opponents, including two in overtime.
Owing a 44-23 overall record as South Dakota’s head coach Ed Meierkort is one of the most successful head coaches in Coyote football history. Meierkort enters his seventh season as the head coach and his 44 career wins place him fourth is school history. He is 99-78 overall as a collegiate head coach, including 73-34 over the last 10 years.
The Coyote offense was one of the most potent units in the nations last season. South Dakota finished fifth in total offense (460.3 ypg), 11th in rushing (202.1 ypg) and 16th in passing (258.5 ypg) and racked up more than 50 points three times during the season. The Coyote’s struggled to get their offense rolling during their first game this season against UCF. They accumulated only 220 total yards and a mere 204 yards passing.
On the defensive side of the ball, South Dakota finished first in the conference in scoring defense (27.2 ppg), rushing defense (108.1 ypg) and was second in total defense (388.9 ypg). The Coyote defense got blasted last week allowing 472 total yards and 231 yards rushing against the Knights. first game allowing The Coyote’s employ a base 3-4 defense, and similar to their offense, it struggle in the first game allowing 472 total yards and 231 yards rushing. Expect the Coyotes 3-4 base defense to continue to struggle stopping the run against Minnesota’s run-first, smash-mouth offensive style.
Meierkort’s Coyotes will have 13 starters returning from last year’s squad. South Dakota has plenty of experience returning, with 43 returning letterwinners.
One returning starter leading the Coyote defense against the Golden Gophers is strong safety Shane Porter originally from Becker, Minnesota. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder started all 10 games last season as a sophomore finishing with 67 tackles including 36 solo stops. He also collected 2.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two pass breakups. His performance earned him an All-Great West Conference second-team selection.
He has continued his strong play from last season in his first game when he notched a career-high 16 tackles including 10 solo stops and one tackle for loss in a 38-7 loss against UCF.
Joining Porter on the All-Great West Conference team was running back Chris Ganious. Ganious played in all 10 games last season and made nine starts. He lead the Great West Conference with 828 yards on 148 carries for a 5.59 yard per carry average. The 5-foot-7 junior was also a threat as a receiver catching 23 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown.
Against UCF, Ganious rushed for 89 yards and a 4.7 yard average on 19 carries. He also had a one yard touchdown run.
Minnesota is currently a 30.5 point favorite entering Saturday’s game against South Dakota.
By Travis Erickson, Fox Sports