Coyotes open spring football practice John Austin, named South Dakota's 23rd head football coach in December, got his first look at the Coyotes on the field when they opened spring football practice Wednesday, April 7. It's the first of 15 practice sessions capped off by the annual Spring Game on Saturday, May 1 at 1 p.m. in the DakotaDome. The practice sessions will start at 3:30 p.m. except for a 6 p.m. scrimmage Friday, April 23 in the Dome. South Dakota returns 11 starters among 37 letterwinners from a team that finished 3-8 last year and 1-8 in the North Central Conference.
A 1980 USD graduate, Austin spent the previous seven years as an assistant coach under Hayden Fry at the University of Iowa.
The Coyotes will feature most of their returning experience on offense with eight starters back, including four in the offensive line in seniors Troy Shively (6-4, 270, guard), Luke Trowbridge (6-2, 275, guard), Jeff Armentrout (6-3, 265, tackle) and Per Ostrem (6-4, 260, tight end).
Peter Martin returns for his senior season at quarterback. Last year he completed 139 of 261 attempts (53.3 percent) for 1,697 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also led in total offense with 1,636 yards. Two of USD's top-three rushers are back in senior Jamel White and junior Darren Smith. White paced the Coyotes with 424 yards rushing and Smith was third with 246 yards. White also ranked fourth in receptions a year ago with 18 catches for 265 yards. Junior wide receiver Steve Young hauled in 16 passes for 298 yards, while sophomore tight end Dustin Sagedahl caught 7 passes for 81 yards. Junior kicker Adam Hicks led USD in scoring last year with 39 points on 15 of 15 extra points and 8 of 11 field goals.
Defensively, the Coyotes graduated eight players with starting experience. Devin Harvey, a senior cornerback, is USD's leading tackler returning after ranking fifth last year with 68 total stops and one pass interception. Juniors Lee Bunge and Scott Larson shared starting duty at left defensive end with Larson notching 50 tackles, 11 tackles for 35 yards in losses and 3 quarterback sacks, while Bunge had 29 tackles with 5 tackles for 16 yards in losses.