The Indiana State Football team are fresh off of a bye-week and riding a two-game winning streak. The Sycamores (2-2) are back on the road and off to South Dakota (1-3) to face the Coyotes this coming Saturday, Oct. 5. This game comes as a rematch of last year, where the Sycamores came out victorious in a high-scoring, triple overtime affair in which the Trees won 51-48. The Sycamores have seemingly found their groove in these last two victories against Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky after falling in two close battles against Kansas and Dayton in their first two games.
South Dakota is also receiving an extra weekend of rest, last playing on Sept. 21 in which they earned their first victory on the season, defeating Northern Colorado 14-6. Prior to that, the Coyotes were winless in their first three games, falling in a 53-52 thriller versus Houston Baptist, losing 70-14 facing Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners, and dropping their opener 31-17 against Montana.
The Coyotes are led by their quarterback, Austin Simmons, who has completed 69.4 percent of his passes this season for 1,211 yards and nine touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions. Kai Henry leads the backfield with 33 run attempts for 175 yards, while getting into the end zone three times, along with eight receptions for 62 receiving yards. Defensively, keep an eye out for Darin Greenfield on the defense line who leads the team with three sacks. The secondary includes defensive back Phillip Powell, who leads the team with two interceptions on the year, and defensive back Reed Elijah, who leads the team with 26 solo tackles on the season. The third quarter is critical for the Sycamores, as it is easily the weakest quarter for the Coyotes in which they have been outscored 69-35 so far this season.
The Sycamores face an uphill battle headed into this week’s matchup as they will have to play the remainder of their season without star quarterback Ryan Boyle, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear injury in the victory versus Eastern Illinois. Ryan Boyle was terrific in this game last year, when he amassed seven total touchdowns, five passing and two rushing, to go along with 380 total yards in the win last year. The Sycamores now look to redshirt sophomore, Kurtis Wilderman, to lead the offense Saturday. Wilderman stepped up and led the offense well following Boyle’s injury against EIU, completing 14/22 of his passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, in addition to amassing 15 carries for 50 yards. His performance will be the critical piece to offense Saturday as South Dakota gives up an unprecedented 387.2 yards per game in the air.
Wilderman will need to be protected up front by his offensive line, whom are very confident in their unit coming into Saturday. Offensive right tackle, Kevin Kcehowski, stated that “experience is everything, especially on the offensive line”. Offensive line coordinator, Michael Switzer, echoed this by saying that “the offensive line has been through a lot. That lends a lot to guys in the room. The guys are welcoming and that allows everyone to be successful because of the information that they’ll lend to them (the younger guys)”. The O-Line will be a key factor on Saturday.
The running back core of Peterson Kerlegrand, Titus McCoy, Nick Sims and Chris Childers will be critical in this game. South Dakota is strong in the against the run game, giving up only 4.0 yards per carry to their opponents so far this year. The Sycamore offense will need to take full advantage of the lowly South Dakota defense, who enters this game giving up 40 points per game and an average of 515.5 yards per game to their opponents.
The Sycamore defense looks for another strong performance to continue an excellent season on that side of the football. The Sycamores are only giving up 19.8 points per game to opponents, while holding opposing backs to 3.9 yards per carry on the ground. They look for a strong performance following their game versus Eastern Illinois, where they only allowed six points.
Tune in to the action at 3 p.m. to catch the action on Saturday on ESPN Plus or on the radio on channel 97.9 FM.