After going winless in Missouri Valley Conference play last season, the University of South Dakota football was anxious to turn the page and look ahead to 2015. The Coyotes got their first chance with the just concluded spring camp.

I talked with USD head coach Joe Glenn about camp and here were some of the headlines:

  • Quarterback Kevin Earl missed all of spring practice as he continues to recover from back surgery. Coach Glenn says he does not know if, or when, Earl might be cleared to return to action. Ryan Saeger, who filled in for an injured Earl much of last season, took most of the reps in practice this spring. Glenn says Saeger had a great camp on the field and is really growing into a leader off the field. Sophomore Brian Woodward got some reps at number two on the depth chart.
  • At running back, starters Trevor Bouma and Khorey Kilgore missed all of spring ball recovering from injuries, while Shay Bratland was limited with a concussion. Those injuries forced the Coyotes to use defensive players like Anthony Vigneri and Clay Fisher as running backs. Coach Glenn says the silver lining is the possibility of five different backs available in the fall.
  • The biggest bright spot for the offense is the line, which returns a veteran group, anchored by Derek Chancellor, who Coach Glenn calls "probably our best athlete". Sam McLeran, Nile Banks, Ed Kennedy, Nick Olson, and Stetson Dagel round out the group, although Kennedy and Dagel did get banged up during spring camp. Newcomers Tanner Anderson and Nick Jensen had solid springs after redshirting last year.
  • Defensively Coach Glenn says it's the strongest up the middle the Coyotes have been in his time in Vermillion. Drew Iddings and Nick Jacobs anchor the line with Keyen Lage and John Wessel returning at linebacker. Sophomore Andrew Ginkel had an impressive camp picking off a pass at the spring game, and should make an impact at linebacker this season, along with Colin Mertlik.
  • The defensive backs put on a show during the spring game, notching three of the four interceptions. Adam Juhl had two picks. Jet Moreland had one. Moreland is a converted linebackers who fells much more comfortable at safety, a position he played in high school.
  • The kicking game is in good hands with Miles Bergner, who was nearly perfect on field goal attempts last season (15-of-16). Walk-on Ethan James hit two kicks from beyond 50 yards during spring camp.
  • Eight incoming freshman have a chance to see playing time, four could compete for a spot at running back. Coach Glenn says quarterback Austin Simmons is "as accurate as any high school quarterback I've watched". Look for him to compete for a backup spot this fall.

The Coyotes open the regular season at Kansas State, September 5, 2015.

Here's my entire interview with Coach Glenn: