The Oregon Ducks kick off their 2014 season this Saturday night at Autzen Stadium. First up for the Ducks is a matchup with the South Dakota Coyotes, the first time these teams have ever met. This is your classic season opener where Goliath (Oregon, in case there was any confusion we needed to clear) pays off David (in this case, $525,000 to be exact) for what is supposed to be a "win-win" for both sides. The Ducks get to shake any offseason rust away by beating a lowly opponent to a pulp, while the Coyotes get a chance to play in front of a huge crowd against a team that is a national championship contender.
Today, we'll take a look at South Dakota's offense. Last season, the Coyotes went 4-8 overall with a 3-5 record in the Missouri Valley Football Conference to finish eighth out of tenth. This will mark the first time South Dakota has ever played a Pac-12 team. Their last win over an FBS opponent came back in 2010 when the Coyotes defeated Minnesota 41-38.
Joe Glenn is entering his third year at South Dakota but hasn't seen much success so far with a 5-18 record.
South Dakota returns their starting quarterback, top four rushers and five of their seven wide receivers from last year.
You can read the game notes from South Dakota here.
At quarterback for the Coyotes will be Kevin Earl, a 6'6'' 220-pound junior from Lincolnshire, Illinois. Earl took over the starting quarterback job four games into the season in 2013, winning his first three starts. He took over the job in place of Josh Vander Maten, who moved to wide receiver. He completed 165-of-314 passes for 1,920 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions, not the greatest ratio we've ever seen. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is probably foaming at the mouth already.
Trevor Bouma and Jordan Roberts will handle the rushing duties for the Coyotes. Bouma and Roberts are big guys who rightfully earned the joint nickname of "The Bruise Brothers." Bouma rushed for 781 yards and three touchdowns while Roberts ran for and 544 yards and three touchdowns, including a 20-carry, 103 yard performance against North Dakota State.
Kevin Earl will be looking to Riley Donovan through the air on Saturday. Last season, Donovan was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer Team, leading the Coyotes with 553 receiving yards as a true freshman. In just his fourth collegiate game, Donovan caught nine passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns against Northern Iowa.
Terrance Terry will also look to make an impact for the Coyotes. Last season, Terry appeared in every game for South Dakota, catching 54 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns. His best game of the year came against South Dakota State, catching nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Who to Watch For
Let's throw out any speculation that this could be one of those non-conference trap games because Oregon is looking past South Dakota to Michigan State next weekend. The coaches and team is mature enough to understand looking past anyone, no matter who it is, could end in disaster. Since this game will probably be over halfway through the first quarter, I want to see how Oregon stops Trevor Bouma and Jordan Roberts. As we've seen in the past, Oregon hasn't been able to stop a team when they attack the Ducks with a smash-mouth running game (Stanford, for example). Kevin Earl is still rather inexperienced and will most likely be in way over his head come Saturday. With no real threat in the passing game, South Dakota will likely try to take a page out of Stanford's playbook, attacking the Ducks with physical running backs. This is a great opportunity for Oregon to get some early practice in at stopping that kind of rushing attack.