Coyote defense shows out at South Dakota’s spring game

Apr. 20—VERMILLION — Caleb McKenzie paid no mind to the whistles as he made his victory trot towards the end zone.

Having just notched his second interception of the South Dakota football spring game — thus forcing the play dead — the sophomore defensive back was determined to get his money’s worth regardless, and took his time getting down the field before somersaulting across the goal line.

It was a celebratory day for the red-clad Coyote defense, which got after the white-wearing offense and its myriad of personnel groupings on Saturday afternoon inside the DakotaDome for the concluding event of the program’s spring schedule.

Though no score was kept in the offense vs. defense scrimmage, it was clear which side held the upper hand, as the red team forced four interceptions, a turnover on downs, a missed field goal, and kept the offense out of the endzone until the 11th drive of the scrimmage.

“I was really pleased with the way our defense performed,” head coach Bob Nielson said. ” … On that side of the ball, there’s some new faces, and to see those guys step up and play at a high level was what we wanted to accomplish today.”

When first team defensive line players Mosai Newsom, Nick Gaes and Mi’Quise Grace were in, and were backed by Grand View (Iowa) transfer linebacker Gary Bryant III, linebacker Nate Ewell and nickelback Teven McKevley, the defense was particularly dominant. That group cobbled up the offenses’ rushing attack — much like it did to opposing offenses last season — and forced short possessions.

When the offense was moving the football, the drives still often ended short due to turnovers. Along with McKenzie’s two picks, Roman Tillmon and Josiah Ganues also notched interceptions.

“That’s the most fun because I’m telling you, all spring ball we dropped picks, ” McKelvey said. “Today, to see…


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