After having enough ‘elbow room’ to last an entire spring, senior Steve Tellefsen is back in full form this fall for the University of South Dakota Coyotes’ football squad.
Tellefsen, who missed spring ball due to an elbow injury, is fully functional and because of that he has terrorized Coyote quarterbacks through the first six days of the 2014 preseason.
On Saturday morning, the team’s second practice in full pads, Tellefsen picked off his third pass this week and took it back to the house for a score as he sped past everyone in his way.
“I just come out and try to work hard everybody,” Tellefsen said. “The defense, I think we are bringing energy every day and our coaches are coaching hard. It’s a lot of positive energy and it’s fun to be around. It’s fun to be practicing again. I am just so happy to be back.”
The coaches will rely on the moxie and experience of players like Tellefsen, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“He’s heads up, he’s a veteran, he’s a senior and we need him to come through for us,” USD head coach Joe Glenn said. “We need to see him making plays.
“He was a safety and then a corner and then back and forth. We will see where it plays in. It looks like he’s finding himself and finding a comfort zone. He’s making plays and we need some guys like those.”
Tellefsen acknowledged picking off his quarterbacks has its minuses too, but the team finds ways to communicate on the goods and the bad.
“In the locker room we talk about practice, we talk about cues and reading the hips so we are always trying to make each other better,” Tellefsen.
Glenn acknowledged the Tellefsen feasted on the second string offense and did so with both hands full with the proverbial steak knives.
“It was against our twos, the ball got tipped and he was Johnny on the spot,” Glenn said. “But, he took it back and ran it in for a touchdown. So he knows what to do when he gets his hands on the ball.
The Weston, Florida native is definitely feeling the flow of positive vibes after week one of Coyote practices.
“I feel like we are heading in the right direction even if we have a lot of work to do,” Tellefsen said. “Everyone is positive and all the coaches are positive. It’s a lot of fun every day just to come out to practice.”
Glenn notices that Tellefsen is enjoying the opportunity to be back on the field.
“He’s having fun with it,” the Coyote head coach said. “I felt so bad for him in the spring ball when he was done, then he was out, and he knew he was in competition for a starting position. It’s great to see him out.
“He’s got a smile on his face, he’s got some pizzazz and it’s great to see.”
Week one in the book. So coach?
Glenn and team appear to be overall satisfied with what they have seen during this week of practice. Four of the days the team went no pads until these final two saw the Coyote men don the football armor.
“It’s full speed ahead and its add on offense, add on defense,” Glenn said. “Everyone is swimming especially the new kids. This gives the vets a chance to separate a little bit, but we need the new kids to keep digesting and learning.”
There is a hope that the younger players’ learning curve improve greatly and rapidly.
“I have a feeling there are enough athletes there to help us out whether they are starting or they are backups,” Glenn said. “There are some really good young athletes.”
Rankings: Enough already?
According to Glenn, all the talk about preseason rankings has not become a pain in the helmet as all it does is speak of the here and now if not about what might actually become.
“We know where we are at,” Glenn said. “At the end of last year we weren’t as good as we were in the middle of the season, but we played a lot of tougher teams. We would have like to have gone out the end of the year with the steam that we had when we beat Northern Iowa. But we were healthy then.”
Glenn’s Coyote squad is the only one in the 10-team Missouri Valley Football Conference to not get a Top 25 ranking or even one vote in either the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) coaches or media poll.
That doesn’t mean Glenn is sick of hearing about it. He looks at it as a just a part of the process.
“It might sell tickets, sell some newspapers, and create some interest,” Glenn said. “There are some teams ahead of us that have no reason being ahead of us and our kids know that too.
“That’s alright, it’s a good league. Every week we are going to have to touch gloves and go into a heavyweight fight every game. We have a lot to prove. We got close, we got closer and now we have to close and win.”