Sioux Falls Football enters 2014 at number 8 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 6-5 (6-5) Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
The Northern Sun conference is no joke; half of our preseason top ten preseason teams are from the conference, including all of our top three. Sioux Falls is a good team in an excellent conference, and as often happens when this is the case, they lost five games last season and finished fourth in the NSIC South with a 6-5 record. All five of those losses were to top-25 competition: BR2 Minnesota-Duluth, BR18 U of Mary, BR21 Winona State, BR15 Upper Iowa, and BR1 Minnesota State-Mankato. Those five weren’t the only top-25 competition the Cougars played last year though – they beat BR10 Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, 55-48. Sioux Falls finished out of the playoff picture, but on a positive note, with a 35-10 win over Wayne State on the road.
-Sam Dooyema OL
-Shane Hyronimus OL
-Carrington Hanna QB/WR – 99/162 passing (61.1%), 1,085 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 44 receptions, 491 yards, 3 TDs, 72 carries, 214 yards
-Wes Smith WR – 35 receptions, 534 yards, 4 TDs
-Austin Vanhove TE – 44 receptions, 542 yards, 4 TDs
-Jonathan Talbot LB – 55 tackles, 9 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR
What to Watch For
Pace – The Cougars finished with the fourth-best rushing offense in the NSIC last season – 540 attempts for 2,709 yards and 31 TDs, but they also finished dead last in time of possession – an average of only 25:38 per game. There’s a bit of a disconnect there. One would imagine that a team that runs the ball so much (and so well) would be able to keep the other team off the field but that wasn’t the case here. The Cougars were also last in the conference in sacks, presumably because their defense was gassed most of the time from having been on the field for the entire game. This has to change. Either the offense figures out how to hold the ball or the defense figures out how to hold their opponents, or Sioux Falls is in for a rough season.
Swiss Army QB – Carrington Hanna was the fourth best rusher, second best receiver, and number one QB on the team last year. I’m not sure how many times in college football history (or even football history in general) that has happened. The glue-guy graduated and left holes in several places on the offense.
More than half (6) of the Cougars 11 games last season were against top-25 competition, and four of those six games were on the road. The Cougars went 1-5 in those six contests. This season won’t be any easier, but at least they’ll face a few of their toughest opponents at home: BR3 St. Cloud State, BR10 Southwest Minnesota State, and BR15 Upper Iowa. They’ll go on the road to face BR21 Winona State and BR1 Minnesota State Mankato.
The schedule-makers were relatively kind to the Cougars this season, so we’ll see if the more-experienced defense can support an offense that lost a lot of talent this offseason. Sioux Falls fans might end up disappointed if they’re expecting playoffs, but a run for the NSIC South crown (or at least a better effort than last year) is well within range.