No, I wasn’t at the game in Orlando, but I’m here with some quick thoughts on the University of South Dakota’s 38-7 season-opening loss to Central Florida on Saturday.
First, let’s be clear: Something like that was to be expected. USD head coach Ed Meierkort made clear time and again that he wanted his team to go into Brighthouse Networks Stadium, compete on every snap and come out a better team.
Second, three stats stood out to me. USD committed zero turnovers, surrendered zero interceptions and allowed one of the nation’s top defensive lines just one sack. In other words, the Coyotes didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. How many times did you hear that phrase on Saturday during all the college football games?
Though the total yardage heavily favored Central Florida — 472-220 — USD did get a solid rushing performance from junior Chris Ganious. The Houston, Texas native carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards and the second-quarter touchdown pictured right.
And quarterback Dante Warren, making his first career start after two seasons as a back-up, put together a solid performance. The junior completed 10-of-19 passes for 104 yards and as mentioned, didn’t turn the ball over.
And though the final score might not indicate so, there was one time when the Coyotes had significant momentum, only to see it fall by the wayside. After USD pulled within 14-7 after the Ganious touchdown, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by the Knights and recovered by USD’s Eric Leon. However, the play was called back on an off-sides penalty.
At the end of the day, the loss doesn’t mean much. It was USD’s first guarantee game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent, and now the Coyotes can prepare for next Saturday’s game at Minnesota.