Tag Archives: South Dakota Coyotes

Grading the Defense: Week 4

26 Sep

Just another day in the life for the nation’s third-best scoring defense.

The Badgers played well enough up front and essentially made the Coyotes one-dimensional. The secondary was stellar, the linebackers made plays, the front four brought pressure, and the collective defensive unit finally began recording take-aways. Here are the individual grades:

Defensive Line: A-

I’m a bit torn about the line’s performance. While they did bring constant pressure and recorded three sacks, they seemed unable to stop the run game, at times. Granted the Coyotes were very one-dimensional in their play-calling and ran the ball 37 times, it still hurts to see 124 rushing yards under the Coyotes’ stat line. Call me a perfectionist, but while it only averages out to 3.4 yards per rush, I think the Badgers front four can improve. And they’ll need to next weekend against the dynamic rushing attack of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.

Linebackers: A-

This would be a straight A, but I pass part of the blame for South Dakota’s 124 rushing yards to the linebacking corps. But besides that, the linebackers were effective. Borland continues to demonstrate his knack for making big plays while recording his first interception of the year. The unit also featured the Badgers’ top three tacklers of the day in Mike Taylor, Borland, and Kevin Claxton.

Secondary: A+

Any team who can hold their opposition, no matter how bad, to less than 50 yards through the air deserves mad props. When Nick Toon can out-gain the Coyotes in one play, you know the secondary was on top of their game. Cromartie seems to be fitting in well with the unit and they collectively appear confident to move on to their next challenge.

It’s awfully hard to complain about a defense that has given up 8.5 ppg through the first four match-ups, but the Badgers must continue to improve before their anticipated match-up with the Huskers. Can’t wait.

On Wisconsin.

-Mitch Larson


Prediction Time! Wisconsin vs. South Dakota

22 Sep

As Wisconsin takes on South Dakota in their final tune-up before their showdown with Nebraska next week, they’ll need to do a couple things.

First off, they need to stay sharp. Although I can’t say I’m worried the Coyotes will pull off the upset (although they did defeat Minnesota last year), the Badgers can’t afford to play sloppy. This is their last chance to get anything fixed before they embark upon the Big Ten season. And, South Dakota won’t be coming into this game just expecting to get blown out. As probably the biggest game of many of their players’ lives, the Coyotes will be pumped up and ready to play. South Dakota has a few playmakers on both sides of the ball, so Wisconsin will need to neutralize them from the start and erase any hope.

Secondly, the Badgers need to stay healthy. If they get up big, the back-ups should come in at halftime. We don’t need Russell Wilson staying in until the fourth quarter like last week. The scheduling of South Dakota was meant for the very purpose of tuning the Badgers up for Big Ten play and any injuries would completely erase the good that comes out of this matchup.

In the end, a win is a pre-drawn conclusion, but it’s how the Badgers play and how many of their players walk off the field healthy that will determine the merit of Wisconsin’s victory on Saturday.

Prediction: Wisconsin 52, South Dakota 10

-Sam Oleson

I wrote a book on what I expected out of last week’s match-up, and frankly, it was a waste of time. In that essay-of-a-prediction I was, for the most part, completely wrong. So here I will take the opposite approach and predict the game in three sentences:

The Badgers have far more talent than the Coyotes on both sides of the ball, that much is clear. They do, however, need to address the at-times sloppy play and penalties from last week. If they do this and maintain the past efficiency of their first-team units, the back-ups should have plenty of time to shine, come Saturday.

Prediction: Wisconsin 63, South Dakota 17

-Mitch Larson

Coyote to Watch: Jesse Weisbrod

21 Sep

I’m going to do something a little out-of-the-ordinary, here, and take the time to do a brief profile on one of the Badgers’ upcoming foes: South Dakota defensive end Jesse Weisbrod.

I’m doing this because, in someways this Saturday, Weisbrod will be coming home. You see, playing in Camp Randall will by no means be a new experience for Weisbrod.

Coyote Defensive End, Jesse Weisbrod

Weisbrod, a Waupaca, Wis. native, was the captain of his high school’s 2007 state championship team that captured its title playing on, well, you guessed it, the Badgers’ home playing field. Now, four years later, the 6-5, 275 lb red-shirt senior makes his way back to Madison to face his home-state team Wisconsin Badgers.

O yeah, and did I mention he was a high school classmate and football teammate of your RedZone contributing writers, Sam Oleson and Mitch Larson? Told you it was an interesting story…

We caught up with Weisbrod and asked him a few questions about what it’ll be like to return to Camp Randall.


What will it feel like stepping onto the field at Camp Randall for the first time since you won the state championship?

WEISBROD: Obviously I have some great memories associated with Camp Randall but I won’t really know how I’ll feel until I step onto the playing-field. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to play in such a historic stadium in front of a crowd usually am cheering along with. This Saturday, obviously, I’ll be pulling for the Badgers’ opponent.

Do you think it gives you an advantage knowing that you’ve already played in Camp Randall?

WEISBROD: I don’t think it gives me any advantage just because it’s been so long since I’ve played there.

If you had to sum up the style your Coyote defense plays, in one sentence, what would it be?

WEISBROD: I’d say our defense is unrelenting in its pursuit of the ball. Simply put, we just try to get out there and get after it.

What do you expect from the Badgers, come Saturday?

WEISBROD: As far as expectations of the Badgers, I know they’re going to come right at us, like any other team. I know they have Nebraska the following week, but I don’t believe they’ll be taking us lightly.

Are you feeling anything different preparing to play the team you grew up cheering for opposed to a team in your conference?

WEISBROD: It’s obviously very different getting ready to face a team I’ve been watching since I was a kid. Watching them on film is almost surreal. At the end of the day, though, they’re just another team like every other one we prepare for; I have to treat it as such.

What does it mean to you to get to come back and play in front of your family and friends who maybe haven’t seen you play in four years?

WEISBROD: Playing in front of family and friends that haven’t seen me play in four years adds a bit of extra pressure. But not only do I personally want to play well in front of them, I want to show them that our entire team can play well, too. I have a group of 60 people from my hometown coming down to watch and cheer for me, so I’m hoping to make them proud.


Weisbrod, number 96, deflects a pass against Minnesota

I know as sports fans we sometimes get caught up cheering for our home team. Sometimes–and probably more often than not–we can even get down-right nasty to our opponents and opposing fan-bases. I’m here to say that we need to keep some perspective and realize that, even though they may be facing off against the team we bleed for, they’re still collegiate athletes fighting for their teammates and fan-bases. But more importantly, they’re good people. Such is the case with players like Jesse Weisbrod. And while I’ll surely be rooting for my Badgers on Saturday, I wish all the best to stand-up players like Weisbrod and his teammates.

On Wisconsin.

-Mitch Larson

Wisconsin vs. South Dakota: Scouting the Coyotes

20 Sep

The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) take on their one and only FCS opponent of the year on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., South Dakota (2-1). The Coyotes, though an FCS squad, are a formidable team within their conference, the Great West. Although not nearly as talented as Wisconsin, as any college football fan knows, no team can take their opponent lightly. We don’t need any repeats of Appalachian State…

Here’s a quick scouting report on the Coyotes.



Although their two wins—Eastern Washington and Northwestern Oklahoma State—were against a fellow FCS opponent and an NAIA foe, South Dakota has put up some points this year. They’re ranked No. 20 in the latest FCS polls and can be explosive.

Their quarterback, Dante Warren, is a dual threat. This year, he’s 34-of-60 passing for 488 yards and five touchdowns. However, he has also thrown four interceptions. The Badgers could take advantage of his inconsistency.

However, he has made up for his erratic passing with his legs. On the ground, he’s gained 185 yards on 36 carries and has scored two touchdowns.

But, if Wisconsin can pressure him like they did Chandler Harnish last week, any hope of a Coyote upset will vanish.

Running Backs:

South Dakota uses two running backs pretty heavily. Their top running back, Chris Ganious, leads the team with 187 yards on 36 carries and a touchdown.

However, the Coyotes also employ another running back, Marcus Sims. Sims has 172 yards on just 21 carries. He’s averaging over eight yards a carry and could be South Dakota’s most dangerous threat.

Similar to what the Badgers did last weekend, if they can shut down the Coyote rushing attack, it will make it much more difficult for Warren to beat them through the air.
Wide Receivers:

Through three weeks, the Coyotes have showed a number of receivers capable of making big plays.

First and foremost is Will Powell. On the year, he’s got 12 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a threat downfield and can definitely make plays if given the chance.

Two other receivers, Jeremy Blount and Dustin Nowotny, both have eight receptions and could also hurt the Badgers. Along with Powell, Blount is another player Wisconsin will have to keep an eye on, as he is averaging over 21 yards a catch and leads the team with three touchdowns.

Offensive Line:

Through three weeks, the Coyote offensive line’s performance has been a little mixed.

They’ve paved the way for over 209 rushing yards per game and five touchdowns on the ground. That is their strength.

On the other end—pass blocking—they’ve struggled. Opposing defenses have already recorded 10 sacks and Warren hasn’t had a ton of time in the pocket.

Wisconsin should look to take advantage of that.


Defensive Line:

Probably the strongest defensive unit for South Dakota, the defensive line may be the only facet of the Coyote defense that could challenge the Wisconsin offense.

Although opponents are averaging over 176 yards on the ground, the D-line has been getting great pressure on opposing QBs. They already have 10 sacks, led by defensive end Tyler Starr, who has five.


This unit, though they’ll probably be successful for the rest of the season, may struggle against Wisconsin.

Along with the defensive line, they’ve contributed to the high rushing totals for opponents and also are partly responsible for some gaudy passing numbers as well.

Against an offense with running backs quicker, faster and stronger than them and tight ends with the same capabilities, they could be a unit Wisconsin picks on.

Defensive Backs:

Although this unit is giving up over 224 yards through the air and has already allowed four touchdowns, they’ve also recorded five interceptions.

Jim Thompson, their senior defensive back from Hayward, Wis., leads the team with two interceptions and may not be the best guy to pick on.

But, let’s be honest, Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis should be able to find their share of open space on Saturday.

Special Teams


On the year, placekicker Kevin Robb has been stellar, making all five of his field goal attempts and averaging around 59 yards on his kickoffs.


Cole Zwiefelhofer, from Chippewa Falls, Wis., has handled the punting duties for South Dakota this season and has been outstanding. He’s averaging 42.2 yards on 13 punts and has already pinned five inside the 20-yard line.

Kick Return:

The Coyotes have used three men on kick returns this year, though receiver Jeremy Blount has received the majority of them. On six returns, he’s averaging 20.8 yards and has a long of 39.

Punt Return:

Blount also handles the punt return duties and has actually been pretty dangerous so far. He’s averaging 15.6 yards on five returns and has a long of 24. Wisconsin cannot afford to let up when he has the ball.

-Sam Oleson