HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … South Dakota State.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (11-3 IN 2017)
MVFC (SDSU was 2nd in 2017)
COACH: John Stiegelmeier – 22nd year (148-97 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 37.2 ppg. (6th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 23.9 ppg. (47th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The losses on offense for the Jackrabbits are significant. Everyone knows about wide receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert moving on to the NFL. But SDSU also lost its top running back Brady Mengarelli, All-MVFC fullback Kane Louscher and the leader on the offensive line in Jacob Ohnesorge. The Jacks are moving on to 2018 as well, though, and talent still remains on the offense, starting with All-Conference quarterback Taryn Christion. Mikey Daniel and Isaac Wallace are more than capable of filling Mengarelli's shoes. The coaching staff is excited about the young playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. Every college football team says this, though. So it's going to be key for these young guys to develop quickly and make plays.
At least to start the season, the strength of SDSU may be its defense. Seven starters return, including HERO Sports preseason All-Americans Christian Rozeboom at linebacker and cornerback Jordan Brown. The defensive line does have question marks, but the defense overall is experienced and should bring that scoring average down to the teens.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Jacks become a balanced offense with a strong defense and makes another run toward a national title. Last year saw a semifinal appearance after playing in the quarterfinals in 2016. The big question is how well can they replace the lost talent to remain at the top of the FCS. SDSU may utilize its run game more but still has Christion, one of the best quarterbacks in the subdivision, to make plays with his arm and legs. This isn't a team that's going to plummet in the conference and national rankings because two guys went to the NFL. But that question remains on if the Jacks have gotten any closer this offseason to achieving the ultimate goal of a national championship.
TOP RETURNEE: QB Taryn Christion (Two-time Walter Payton Award Finalist)
THE NEXT BEST: LB Christian Rozeboom (Preseason All-American, 127 tackles); K Chase Vinatieri (Preseason All-American, 103 points); DB Jordan Brown (Preseason All-American, 9 pass breakups, 3 INT.); RB Mikey Daniel (482 yards, 11 TDs); WR Marquise Lewis (348 yards, 4 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: S Brandon Snyder (Iowa transfer, started 13 games in 2016)
DID YOU KNOW?: The SDSU men's basketball team has produced seven NBA Draft picks, the latest being Nate Wolters in 2013.
THE QUOTE: “In the locker room the expectations have not changed, and when I met with the captains over the summer we talked about that. They talked about being tired of hearing about who left. I’ve prepared them for that – they’re going to keep getting those questions. But they want to talk about who’s here – who’s on this team.” — Head Coach John Stiegelmeier told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoJacks
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @GoJacksFB