BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — The three kickers on the spring roster for the University of South Dakota football team all got equal opportunities in Saturday’s spring game.
Returning starter Miles Bergner (So.), along with Brian Saakvitne (So.) and Derek Granum (Jr.), all had the same chances at kicking field goals and extra points; though the point(s) counted only once — but not that it really matters for a spring game. For what it’s worth, the offense beat the defense 48-21.
The kicking — and punting — game was something head coach Joe Glenn pointed out last week to me as an area that really needed improvement after last season. And with that in mind, all three kickers on the roster were given the same chances.
It’s important to note, though, as Glenn even pointed out later, that “we know who our guy is.”
“Those other guys work hard, they come out and shag balls,” Glenn said. “I just felt like everybody else got some turns, I would like to see them get some turns.”
Bergner made four of his meaningful kicks: Field goals of 42 and 37 yards, along with a pair of extra points that counted toward the score. Saakvitne made two of the extra points that counted on the stat sheet. Granum, for his part, also showed an ability to hit from deep.
Ultimately, though, the coaching staff will have to make a decision on the second kicker, Glenn said. The roster will have to be trimmed to 95 by the end of fall camp, and keeping three kickers wouldn’t seem to be an option.
** Tyson Graham Jr. has moved from wide receiver to safety, to help potentially provide depth to a secondary that will replace all four starters. Glenn said Graham Jr. has “a ways to go,” but was impressed with one play in particular — when Graham knocked the ball out of a receiver’s hands. Said Glenn, “If he can do that a couple times during the season, he’ll see the field.”
** Glenn said he was impressed with the defense’s ability to stop the run, knowing that the offense would try to establish that, but other concerns propped up. “But they gave up some touchdowns over the top,” Glenn said. “You live by the sword, you die by it.” With the defense loaded up to stop the running attack (which figures to be a strength of the offense this fall), the offense took advantage with some deep passes, Glenn said.
** Arguably the most impressive part of Saturday’s game was the play of the defensive front. The defense allowed only 38 yards rushing on 28 attempts (with a combined 15 carries from the top returners, Trevor Bouma and Jordan Roberts). The defense also recorded two sacks (of the non-tackling variety…remember, a spring game), three interceptions (from Zeke Lewis, Chris Tyler and Devon O’Farrell) and a fumble recovery by Colin Buscarini. Junior defensive lineman Drew Iddings figures to have a monster season, and the line will also add transfer Mason Ruiz in the fall.