BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — For the second consecutive home game, the University of South Dakota football team will wear special uniforms.
This time, though, the Dakota Days homecoming game will feature a flashier feel.
And will have the Coyotes following in the footsteps of such major-conference programs as Oregon.
The Coyotes (2-3), who host No. 21 Northern Iowa on Saturday, unveiled Wednesday a specially-designed chrome helmet. Those will be accompained by chrome uniforms, which will be unveiled today (Thursday).
“It’s something we need,” said junior quarterback Kevin Earl, who will start Saturday in his return from a thumb injury.
“We need a little boost right now. Hopefully it helps us.”
A group of former players donated money to help their alma mater purchase a variety of uniforms, including the all-chrome jerseys and helmets, according to head coach Joe Glenn.
USD wore a throwback-style uniform during the Sept. 20 home game with Northern Arizona.
At a cost of double the normal helmet price, USD purchased the chrome helmets with decals, so they can be replaced — rather than buying helmets that had the chrome color and logo painted on.
The full look — which was kept secret from the players — was then displayed after Sunday night’s practice, with a hype video posted to the USD website.
“It’s vogue in college football, to do something like that,” Glenn said after Wednesday’s practice. “And we thought it might be a shot in the arm for us.”
Among the players, senior running back Jasper Sanders has known for perhaps the longest — 2-3 weeks, he said.
“It was tough not to tell anyone,” Sanders said Wednesday.
“I love the design,” he added. “When you see it all together, it looks even better.”
Might it be the spark the Coyotes, who lost by 31 points in last week’s Missouri Valley Football Conference opener, need?
That remains to be seen, but the team is still anxious to unveil its new look, according to junior defensive tackle Nick Jacobs.
“Word on the street is that we’re the first in the FCS to have chrome helmets,” he joked. “That’s pretty exciting.
“It’s pretty much the Oregon of the FCS over here.”
The Ducks, who the Coyotes saw in person in the season opener, are the most notable example of a college football program that mixes and matches its uniform combinations.
For example, Oregon wore all-yellow uniform (called ‘Sonic Boom’) during a game with Michigan State, and later wore pink uniforms against Arizona to support breast cancer awareness month.
“Oregon started the trend, and I think college football is starting to move that way with the flashy uniforms,” Earl said. “It’s cool to be here and have something like that.
“You don’t see too many Missouri Valley teams wearing chrome uniforms.”
Not only will the DakotaDome crowd get to see the chrome look, so to will a national audience — Saturday’s game will be available on ESPN3.com.
“You definitely get more excited; everyone in the stadium does,” sophomore wide receiver Riley Donovan said. “It’ll be sold out Saturday, and we know the fans will love it.”