Sizing up the 'Yotes: Part 1

The Gophers have made a habit of playing FCS schools from the Dakotas in recent years. This year the Coyotes from the University of South Dakota come to Minneapolis for a border match-up with the University of Minnesota. caught up with Mick Garry from the Argus Leader to get his take on a team with nine Minnesota players. Tell me a little bit about the arc of South Dakota Coyote football, where they have come from and how they are looking.

Mick Garry:"They are in their third year transition from division II to FCS. Its a five year transition, so they have a couple years left, but they have been trying to make the bridge here from a 36 scholarship program to a 62 or 63 scholarship program. They play in the Great West conference, which is kind of an orphanage for IAA teams, they have Cal Poly in there and UC Davis, Southern Utah and the University of North Dakota. So the conference is not an overwhelming part of their season unless they try to make it one."

"They are getting better players, and the younger guys now in the program are better, typically. This particular team has a new quarterback, who hasn't played a ton, and they have a young defensive line. those are the two things that kind of jump out at you."

GSN: Can you tell me a little about (quarterback) Dante Warren?

Garry: "He's a talented kid. He had a nice high school career in suburban Chicago, but just hasn't played. He was behind four year starter, Noah Shepard, who was probably the best quarterback this school has ever had."

"Dante is pretty athletic, throws the ball pretty well in practice, he wasn't throwing it quite as well against Central Florida with the large bulls coming at him, but I think overall the staff feel satisfied with his start overall and also optimistic that he's capable of having a pretty good season."

GSN: Talk a little bit more about the offense. What would you consider the best scoring threat for the Coyotes?

Garry: "Well, Chris Gainious has been a two year starter at running back. He's kind of a little guy. He's five-seven and 180, but he plays behind a pretty solid offensive line. [the offensive line] has been kind of a strength of the program under (head coach) Ed Meierkort."

"They have had, physically, pretty tough offensive linemen coming through the program and that would be the case this year. They did, at times, sustain a running game against Central Florida. I wouldn't call him a big play type kid. Maybe a little more of a grinder. A guy who's pretty gifted at being able to get 5 or 6 yards on a play, but not a huge break-away threat."

"They have some nice wide receivers, probably not by Big Ten standards, but for the level they are playing they are proud of their wide receivers, its just a matter of getting the ball to them."

GSN: Let's move to defense. The starting safety broke his collarbone in the game against UCF. How do you think that affected the game plan?

Garry: "Overall, its kind of a young secondary. You got Shane Potter, who started out at Minnesota--a Becker Minnesota kid--who's really a tough kid and they really like having him around."

Jimmy Thompson, who also started out at Minnesota, he broke his collarbone on the first play and they had to put in a true freshman. One of the starting cornerbacks was a transfer from Utah State playing his first game as a cornerback and then the other [cornerback] was a redshirt freshman playing in his first college game."

"They are more talented [than past players], but on the other hand they are really young. So there is some real vulnerability there as far as the youngsters in the secondary."

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