BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION – A team can’t be evaluated after one game.
And it certainly can’t be evaluated after playing up a level. You don’t really learn anything about that team until it takes the field against its peers.
That’s exactly the situation facing the University of South Dakota.
While there were certainly some areas of concern following the 34-0 season-opening loss at Kansas State, the Coyotes are also looking forward to Saturday’s game at UC Davis – a fellow FCS program and member of the Big Sky Conference.
“It’s nice to be playing somebody that has the same budget, the same scholarship level, and pretty much everything is the same,” head coach Joe Glenn said after Thursday’s practice.
What the Coyotes faced a week ago was far from a new experience.
Last year, USD opened its season at third-ranked Oregon, which featured the eventual Heisman Trophy winner and a team that would go on to play in the national championship game.
“You can get overwhelmed by a good program at that level,” Glenn said.
Unlike last year, though, the Coyotes won’t have to wait two more weeks for a true barometer game. USD hosted William Penn – an NAIA school – the week after Oregon a year ago.
A quick turnaround to a fellow FCS school is understandably a welcomed change of pace.
“This is what we do; who we are,” Glenn said.
For a school like USD, games like Oregon and Kansas State (and next year at California) are a necessary part of the job; those are money games and an opportunity to showcase your program on a national stage.
“They have it in every state, different classifications,” said Glenn, who compared Sioux Falls Lincoln playing Wessington Springs (as an example) to USD playing Kansas State.
“If they did, it wouldn’t be fair,” he added. “That’s why we get the kind of money we do for playing those games.”