USD, SDSU football to play spring games on Saturday

Jackrabbits, Coyotes wrap up spring season with intrasquad scrimmages in Vermillion, Brookings.

The USD Coyotes will play their spring football game on Saturday, April 22 at the DakotaDome.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

SIOUX FALLS — Saturday is Gameday for the Jackrabbits and Coyotes.

At least, that's what they'll try to emulate for the annual spring game, which marks the end of spring practice for both teams. South Dakota State will take the field inside at the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex at 2:30 p.m., while the University of South Dakota is set to go at the DakotaDome at 1 p.m.

For both teams, the intrasquad scrimmage probably takes on even more importance than usual, as both have spent the spring undergoing significant transition.

At SDSU, rookie coach Jimmy Rogers takes over for John Stiegelmeier, while USD has an almost entirely new offensive staff under returning head coach Bob Nielson. Saturday represents the first chance for them to get to work in something resembling a game situation, which they hope will send them into the summer on the right foot.


Yotes hoping new coaches spark offense

USD averaged fewer than 20 points and 300 yards per game last season, a year that was marred by an overly difficult early-season schedule and the departure of offensive coordinator Ted Schlafke just three weeks into the season.

In steps former SDSU wide receiver and wide receivers coach Josh Davis as the new coordinator. Former Mary head coach Craig Bagnell is the Coyotes' new receivers coach, Jeff Nady takes over the offensive line and Tim Morrison is the new tight ends coach, replacing Tyler Paopao, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Augustana. Running backs coach (and former Yotes star quarterback) Dante Warren is the only returning member of the offensive coaching staff.

Saturday will represent the fans' first opportunity to get a look at what Davis has in mind for the Yotes offense. He directed a highly successful offense as coordinator at NAIA Northwestern, where the Red Raiders had an electric passing game, but after winning a national championship with an SDSU offense that could dominate on the ground, Davis has said he hopes to create a balanced scheme that plays to the strengths of the roster.

SDSU running back Derrick Johnson takes a handoff from Mark Gronowski during spring practice last month. The Jacks will wrap up the spring season with their spring game on Saturday, April 22 at the SJAC in Brookings.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

Rogers looks to keep SDSU ship sailing

For SDSU, there are only a few question marks on the roster. Tight end Tucker Kraft is off to the NFL, but the Jacks are still pretty set there with 6-foot-7 senior Zach Heins returning. And while D-linemen Caleb Sanders and Reece Winkelman were as good as any the Jacks have had up front, they've proven in recent years they're adept at reloading at that spot.

So while there will be familiar faces in uniform for Saturday's game, Rogers will be overseeing the action in a gameday scenario for the first time. For the last several seasons, Stiegelmeier would watch the spring game from the press box while joining SDSU play-by-play broadcaster Tyler Merriam on the radio, but Rogers will, after a brief appearance with Merriam, be on the sidelines in the heat of the action.

Other staff members making their 'debut' will be running backs coach Robbie Rouse, receivers coach Jake Menage, safeties coach Pete Menage, defensive line coach Jalon Bibbs, cornerbacks coach Mike Banks and special teams coordinator Pat Cashmore.

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, and began a long career in amateur baseball and sports reporting. Email Matt at
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