Young players impressing at Coyotes football practice

The University of South Dakota football team wrapped up its first week of two-a-day practices with a two-hour session on the grass practice fields east of the DakotaDome on Friday afternoon. The Coyotes will continue two-a-days next week in preparation for their season opener against William Penn on Sept. 3.

"You never are sure where you stand during fall camp, but I know we are getting great effort out there," USD head coach Ed Meierkort said.

Meierkort said the play of several key components on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Noah Shepard (Thornton, CO), running back Chris Ganious (Houston, TX) and the offensive line, has been on par with what the coaching staff expects. However, he also noted some incoming players have been performing well during fall camp, specifically mentioning fullback Quintin McMartin, a 2009 Sioux Falls Washington graduate.

"Some of our young guys are very impressive and they are going to play, which is very odd for us to say," Meierkort said. "(McMartin) is not only gifted as a freshman, he's a weapon."

 Meierkort spoke about the linebacker position, which could also see young faces after three starters graduated. Sophomores Shea Williams (Alexandria) and Adam Broders (Bloomfield, NE) both saw time as reserves last year at inside linebacker.

"They are running as our No. 1s right now, but they are being pushed hard by (redshirt freshman) Elliott Harper and (sophomore) Kyle Wheeler," he said. "Those guys are good players and are going to see some time."

On the outside, the Coyotes return seniors Dache Fance (Long Beach, CA) and Ryan Routh (Sioux Falls), who will be supplemented by junior Cory Kuehl (Rock Rapids, IA) and sophomore Andrew Meier (Guthrie Center, IA). The four combined to play in 33 games last fall, including all 11 by Fance.

"Those four guys have a lot of experience, so we are going to be strong there," Meierkort said.

 USD's kicking game has also showed marked signs of improvement this fall, as Justin Veazie (Chino, CA) returns for his senior year.

 "He had a bad day earlier, but he has come back and I don't know if he has missed a kick in the last two days," Meierkort said. "He is getting better day by day. He's been working on some timing things.

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