As seems to be the unfortunate reality in college football these days, Oregon opens up the 2014 football season on Aug. 30 against a 1-AA patsy. This season, that honor belongs to the South Dakota Coyotes of the Missouri Valley Conference, who will have their first ever meeting with the Ducks.
South Dakota represents a very underwhelming start for Oregon. The Coyotes finished 7th in the MVC last season, with a 3-5 league record and a 4-8 mark overall. After losing the MVC Defensive Player of the Year, the 'Yotes don't project to be much better, and will likely start their season with a lopsided loss.
2013 Record: 4-8, 3-5 Missouri Valley
Bowl Result: None
Blog Representation: None
Series With South Dakota: First Meeting
Last Oregon win: N/A
Last South Dakota win: N/A
South Dakota Offense:
The Coyotes' head coach, former Wyoming head man Joe Glenn, wants to play football in the Stanford mold: grind it out, chew the clock, don't let the other offense have a lot of the ball. Stanford has had success using that system against Oregon, but the Cardinal has a lot more talent than South Dakota does.
Quarterback Kevin Earl is the favorite to win the starting gig for the second year in a row, but his 52.5% completion percentage doesn't exactly inspire confidence for a team that could be faced with a number of third and long situations if their line fails to dominate. Starting running back Trevor Bouma is back after rushing for 4.8 yards per carry last season. But the key to this offense against Oregon will be the line. It was, quite frankly, bad last season, giving up 39 sacks and only allowing their offense a paltry 3.8 ypc. They'll be facing a rebuilding Oregon defensive front, but one that is still supremely more talented. South Dakota could put a drive together early while the new Duck defensive line if finding themselves, but any USD scoring barrage is likely to happen well into garbage time.
South Dakota Defense:
South Dakota did a good job of setting tempo and not allowing opposing offenses to get off large numbers of plays. And the defense largely held up their end of the bargain. Despite losing the confernece defensive player of the year, they return a solid linebacking duo of Keyen Lage (67 tackles, 4 sacks) and Auston Johnson (69 tackles, 7 sacks). The problem was that the offense and special teams put them in a lot of bad field position situations. They forced 21 turnovers and gave up less than 40% on fourth down. However, the only D-1 team they faced last season was Kansas, a far cry from facing Oregon.
South Dakota Special Teams:
South Dakota had one of the shakiest punt return coverages in the nation, giving up 13 yards per, and weren't great on kickoff coverage, either. The field goal unit was barely over 50%. Their own returns were nothing impressive. This is a mediocre to bad special teams.
This is a body bag game. South Dakota is going to get paid to come to Autzen and lose by a lot. The only upside for Oregon is that they want to do things similar to Michigan State and Stanford, so the Ducks will get some experience against that tempo, but the Coyotes are a mere shadow of either of those teams.