Know Your Opponent: South Dakota

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The teams prepare for the snap at the Kansas State versus South Dakota football game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sep. 5, 2015. (Emily Starkey | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State football season will get underway on Saturday when Sout h Dakota visits Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Last season, South Dakota made its first Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS, Playoff appearance in school history after an 8-5 campaign, making it to the second round. They beat a Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, opponent in Bowling Green, Ohio, week two last year as well.

They finished fifth in the stacked Missouri Valley Football Conference behind FCS giants such as North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

Head coach Bob Nielson is in his third year with the Coyotes, he is 12-12 at South Dakota, 28-37 at Division I schools and 198-92-1 in all collegiate coaching. FCS is the highest level he has coached at. He is 1-7 in competition with FBS schools.

The Coyotes, like a lot of the teams K-State will play this season, will bring a spread offense to Manhattan. The wrinkle that South Dakota adds to that offense though is depth.

According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, South Dakota had nine different receivers catch 10 or more passes.

That passing attack was headed by Chris Streveler, the runner-up for the Walter Peyton Award, the FCS’s Heisman. He has graduated, however, and will likely be replaced by senior quarterback Austin Simmons.

From spring game highlights, it is clear that Simmons has a fairly strong arm, but tends to under throw deep balls. He is also fairly mobile, but not a true dual-threat quarterback.

South Dakota returned almost all of those receivers this year; from the spring game, they looked adept at adjusting to the under-thrown balls for big plays.

There were few running plays available on film from the spring game, but in highlights from last year, the Coyotes got a lot of their big runs from read option and draw play looks.

On defense, they appeared to run a lot of 4-3, but the Argus Leader said that they are more likely to show multiple different defensive fronts this season after a few major departures from the middle of their defense.

In their spring game highlights, it seemed like they struggled with open-field tackling across the board. Wide receivers and running backs ran and stiff-armed their way through a lot of arm tackles to make big plays in the spring game.

The Coyotes will make a compelling tune-up game for K-State this season.

They are built to attack a massive weakness of the past pass defense. Their receiver depth will challenge K-State’s secondary and help break in what will hopefully be a new defensive look in pass defense under new defensive coordinator Blake Seiler.

The Coyotes’s defense is predicated on stopping the run because running the ball is what the major schools in their conference try to do, just like K-State will try to do with its deep stable of running backs.

While South Dakota is a solid program, the Wildcats should have too much talent for the Coyotes to keep up. I predict that K-State will run their way to a 41-3 victory and three different quarterbacks will get in the game before it is over.

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