USD football primer: Coyotes head to Montana in search of first win

·3 min read

Sep. 8—VERMILLION — After being shutout by Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Kansas State, South Dakota will go back on the road for one of the toughest foes in the Football Championship Subdivision — No. 3 Montana. Here's what to know ahead of the game.

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Missoula, Montana.

Records: USD 0-1, Montana 1-0.

Coaches: USD's Bob Nielson 29th season overall (seventh at USD), 215-115-1 overall (29-35 at USD); Montana's Bobby Hauck 16th season overall (11th at Montana, fourth year in second stint at Montana), 124-78 overall (109-29 at Montana, 29-12 in second stint).

Last meeting: Montana won 31-17 to open the 2019 season in Vermillion in the first half of a home-and-home series.

Notes: The game will be on ESPN+ ... Montana leads the all-time series 13-6 and has won six contests in a row dating back to 1975 ... Both teams are playing the first of two games on their schedules against the opposing conference and the game is one of six scheduled between the Big Sky and Missouri Valley during the regular season. ... The Big Sky and Valley have had a inter-conference challenge since 2017, with the Valley winning the five previous editions with an overall record of 20-12 in that span.

About the Coyotes: USD fell 34-0 to K-State in its season opener last week ... The Coyotes haven't started 0-2 since 2019 when they lost to an FBS opponent and Montana to open the season ... Montana is the first FCS opponent of the season for USD and the Coyotes have tough sledding ahead with North Dakota State and South Dakota State coming up within the next three games ... Coyotes won three games against ranked teams last year, including beating No. 7 SDSU in the DakotaDome.

About the Grizzlies: Montana rolled Northwestern State 47-0 in the season opener last week ... quarterback Lucas Johnson threw for 208 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another 89 yards on seven carries ... The Grizzlies made it to the FCS quarterfinals last season before falling to James Madison on the road.

USD key players: Running back Shomari Lawrence ran the ball well against K-State in Week 1, registering 84 yards on 14 carries. He'll need to perform well again if USD wants to take down Montana. He finished last season as the team's fourth-leading rusher despite only playing three-plus games. ... Quarterback Carson Camp will be looking for a bounce-back week against the Grizzlies after going 18-for-34 with 139 yards, no touchdowns and an interception last week. He was also sacked four times. No USD receiver had more than three catches and no one had more than 35 yards.

Montana key players: Team offensive MVP running Junior Bergen returns as a sophomore and caught two touchdowns last week. He also handles duties in the punt-return game and returned four punts for 55 yards last week. He tallied 493 yards on 118 carries last season with four touchdowns. ... Last season's leading rusher Xavier Harris also returns for the Grizzlies this year. He logged 30 yards in the first game. ... One of the best FCS corners in the nation — Justin Ford — will be someone Carson Camp and the Coyotes need to look out for. Ford intercepted nine passes a season ago en route to a unanimous first team All-American selection. He led all of the NCAA in interceptions (9) and defensive touchdowns (3) last season. The Louisville transfer, who recovered a fumble last week, is on some NFL Draft boards for 2023.

Next week: USD will play another Big Sky team when it has its home opener against Cal Poly at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, while Montana State goes on the road for the first time to take on its second MVFC opponent in Indiana State at noon on Saturday.