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USD football notebook: Carson Camp's experience leads hopeful Coyotes

With quarterback Carson Camp getting ready to start his second full season, the Coyotes are gearing up for a tough schedule, despite a few holes in the roster.

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USD quarterback Carson Camp drops back to pass during a practice on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at USD's practice field in Vermillion.
Zech Lambert / Mitchell Republic
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VERMILLION — Fall practices are underway for University of South Dakota football, as the season rapidly approaches.

With a lot of returning players, as well as some new faces, the Coyotes are looking to build on a 7-5 season that saw them fall in the first round of the Football Championship subdivision playoffs to Southern Illinois.

Here are three takeaways from USD’s media day ahead of the 2022 season.

Valuing expeirence at quarterback

Carson Camp started all 12 games under center last season for the Coyotes and is back in 2022 for his sophomore campaign.

He threw 2,252 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season, including the 57-yard Hail Mary to knock off South Dakota State in the DakotaDome in the Coyotes' most notable win of 2021. Despite being a sophomore, Camp already has two seasons under his belt, and he started all four games USD played during the COVID-shortened season in 2020-21.

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Coming into his third season as the starter, he’s valuing the experience he’s gained over his first two seasons and looking to build on it.

“Experience is always key,” Camp said at media day on Thursday. “... I’m starting to understand a lot more defenses.”

He used the offseason to workout and gain strength and speed ahead of the season and is hoping to utilize that speed to run the ball more this season. He’s also learning to become more of a leader for the Coyotes, despite not being named a captain, and becoming more comfortable presnap.

“You’re another coach on the field,” he said of his leadership role. “When the ball is about to get snapped, I already know what I’m doing with the ball. … That’s the biggest thing right now: Be a coach, be a leader and know where you’re going to go with the ball.”

Searching for another weapon

Despite returning key starters like Carter Bell and Carson Camp, there are a few questions on the depth chart USD has to answer before it kicks off against Kansas State on Sept. 3.

One of those questions resides with the wide receivers. While Bell and Wesley Eliodor are coming back, there is no clear No. 3 at that position, but there are a few names that could fill the role.

“We’re going to have to have some guys step up this year,” Bell said of the wide receivers on Thursday. “There’s (Caleb) Vander Esch, (Jeremiah) Webb and (Jaevon) McQuitty.”

Bell also sighted redshirt freshman Javion Phelps as someone who could potentially emerge as a threat. With a 6-foot-3 frame, he’s a bigger target in the red zone and is “making really good strides,” according to Bell.

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Camp mentioned sophomore J.J. Galbreath as a potential breakout candidate, as well. Even though he’s listed as a tight end, with the spread offense the Coyotes run, the tight end position is often utilized as a wide-receiver-like position. However, Camp acknowledged there are multiple candidates for that third spot.

“Everyone can play,” he said. “Guys are going to step up to the plate this year, if they have to.”

A tough start on paper

After the FBS game against Kansas State to start the season, USD has a gauntlet of FCS opponents to go through right off the bat. In its first four FCS games, USD takes on Montana, North Dakota State and South Dakota State — the three top teams in the FCS Top 25 media preseason poll.

“I’d prefer to have them all at home,” coach Bob Nielson said about the games at the start of the season when he met with the media Thursday. “If there's one thing that makes that season really difficult is that we've got three of those games on the road.”

Those three road games are at Kansas State on Sept. 3, at Montana on Sept. 10, and at South Dakota State on Oct. 8, with the North Dakota State matchup on Sept. 24 in the DakotaDome. Another notable home game is Oct. 22 against Southern Illinois for Dakota Days, a rematch of the FCS playoffs from last November when the Salukis shut down the Coyotes, 22-10.

However, Carson Camp is looking at the slate of games as an opportunity to take a step toward the goal of winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

“We got to earn our stripes,” he said. “We got these goals in mind, it’s not going to be easy. … I would lie to you if I said the Missouri Valley was a cakewalk each week.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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