Football hosts second-to-last home game against South Dakota Coyotes

Brendan Reidy, Courier Staff

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The Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-8) take on the South Dakota Coyotes this Saturday. The Leathernecks have gone 10 games without a victory, dating all the way back to last season. The streak started against South Dakota a season ago on Nov. 3, and this Saturday will mark 364 days without a Leatherneck victory.

The game this weekend will be very interesting regardless of the weather conditions, which could make the game even more interesting if the snowy conditions continue. Not only will the weather be something to watch on Saturday, but the head coaching matchup will be must-see TV as well. Bob Nielson, former Western head coach and now South Dakota’s lead man, will return to Hanson field for the second time during his tenure at USD. During his time with the Coyotes, he has had the Leathernecks’ number. He is 2-1 against Western Illinois and will look to add another victory over his former team. On the other end of the head coaching battle, is head coach Jared Elliott. He has struggled to find a groove this season after a fairly successful first season taking the reins. He is 0-8 on the season and in desperate need of a victory over their Missouri Valley Conference rivals.

Western Illinois is going to need their offense to step up after a very slow start to the season. The Leathernecks have opted to go with a high tempo offense over the last few weeks, and it has brought the offense to life. They should stick to that style of play to keep South Dakota on their toes. They also should stick with young running backs Jordan Schippers and DeShon Gavin who have shown some flashes in their small sample sizes. As for the passing attack, Connor Sampson has shown improvement in the pocket from week to week, but he needs to be better at distributing the ball to different receivers. He has predominantly been zoned in on George Wahee, their number one receiver, but I would like to see more action with their speedster Tony Tate, who has been quiet the last few weeks.

South Dakota has had an up and down season, but they will be tested with their conditioning this week against Western Illinois and their high paced offense. The game plan for the Coyotes should be simple, and that is to play at their pace of play and keep the Leatherneck defense on the field.

With the snow, the losing streak that could potentially end and Western’s former coach returning, it should be a good one at Hanson Field come Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Hanson Field and live on ESPN+.

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