South Dakota to open spring football practice on March 29

South Dakota to open spring football practice on March 29 The University of South Dakota football team, which had a 9-2 record last fall and one of the best seasons in school history, will open spring football practice at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 at the practice fields located east of the DakotaDome.

The annual spring game is scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday, April 22 in the DakotaDome.

The Coyotes, who set 27 school records a year ago when USD finished second in the North Central Conference with a 4-2 record, return 18 starters, including eight on offense, nine on defense and one on special teams. USD has 54 letter winners returning.

According to South Dakota head coach Ed Meierkort, the Coyotes will strive to continue to develop as a team. He believes developing depth on both sides of the ball while making adjustments to its schemes on both offensive and defense is critical to the team's success.

"We have learned a lot in the past year," said Meierkort, whose nine wins as a first-year coach is tied for the most in school history. "We feel we are better off this spring than a year ago because we know our personnel better. Our squad better understands our system which means they have a better handle of our offensive and defensive strategies."

As the Coyotes prepare to open spring camp, Meierkort noted that several objectives lie ahead, including identifying a backup quarterback and developing the depth on the offensive front.

"We are anxious to see who will step up and take the role of wide receiver Chris Mikkelsen, who graduated as the Coyotes all-time leader in receptions. We are going to try and become more balanced at the receiver position," said Meierkort. "Our running game should be solid and our offensive line is very strong and has looked great in the off-season.

"On defense, we will look to improve our blitz game, which is a priority," Meierkort added.

With nine starters returning on defense, the defensive front and our secondary should be very strong, the coach said.

"We feel our secondary is outstanding and are as good a group as that on any team on our schedule. What we need to do in the secondary is develop depth," he said. "In addition, we need to work on our return game and find a place kicker."

USD will open the season this fall on the road with Minnesota Crookston on Thursday, Aug. 25.

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