BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — The first day of fall practice is typically filled with basic position drills, light offensive vs. defensive series, and freshmen filled with nerves.
USD saw most of that on Monday in Vermillion.
The Coyotes, with 29 freshmen taking part in their first practice, returned to action for a 2-hour session in the DakotaDome.
Asked later about what he remembers from his first practice as a freshman, senior offensive lineman Marc Murtha went right to a key moment.
I’ll never forget that first one. We had a scrimmage and I laid out Will Powell. He was paling free safety. That was five years ago. That flies by.
There’s usually not much to report from a first practice (the guys were not wearing pads), but head coach Joe Glenn was quick later to point out one highlight from the day.
He pointed to freshman kicker Miles Bergner as one who impressed the coaching staff, which is obviously saying something for the highly-touted kicker from Colorado. Bergner kicked in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this year — certainly great publicity for him and the program.
He didn’t disappoint. It’s day one and he came out and wowed us. He’s got a big leg and is accurate. He works at it at a game-like speed right out the chute. He’ll get better and better, but he’s a guy who can help us.
Other notes from day one (I’ll be out there again next week):
•• Numbers-wise, Glenn said the team is about where it should be, with 89 guys in camp (including some redshirts). There are a handful of players ineligible for certain reasons.
•• The receiving corp is an area of focus heading into the season. USD brings back Terrance Terry, but nobody else with significant catches to their college resume. Guys like Anthony Williams, Tyson Graham Jr., Nick Meyer and Austin Koch (among others) are likely to get plenty of looks.
•• One late addition to the roster is sophomore defensive back Adam Juhl, a Sioux Falls kid and transfer from Augustana College.
•• Linebacker looks to be a strength on defense, with the additions of transfers Auston Johnson and Kyle Staples. They join a group that already includes Tyler Starr (duh), Ryan Hillier and Kyle Guziec.
•• Already my favorite name on the team is Jet Moreland. He’s a freshman linebacker.
•• Caught up with defensive line coach Marquice Williams, who spent part of his summer with the Chicago Bears as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship. Williams was one of five coaches selected by the Bears.
Of all the techniques he experienced and saw up close, one key area, Williams said, was on the defensive line. The Bears recorded 41 sacks last season and 39 came from linemen, he said.
I picked up a lot of great fundamentals; great techniques that I can bring here.