South Dakota 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Missouri Valley


South Dakota State got their 2015 season off to a great start by beating Kansas in Lawrence. That was not as big of an upset as it may sound, but the Jackrabbits did have some questions heading into the 2015 season and many suspected their streak of five straight playoff appearances would come to an end. But that win over the Jayhawks proved that this was a team that was capable of making the playoffs and they did just that.

2015 Record: 8-3, 5-3
Coach: John Stiegelmeier

Big Wins: 9/5 at Kansas (41-38), 11/7 Illinois State (25-20)
Bad Losses: 10/24 Northern Iowa (7-10), 11/21 Western Illinois (24-30 2 OT)

The defense deserves a lot of credit for South Dakota State’s success this year. Linebacker T.J. Lally has been a great senior leader in the middle of the defense and junior Jesse Bobbit has emerged as a big-time playmaker and the team’s top tackler. Cole Langer leads a talented front line that also includes Jared Blum and J.R. Plote. All three of them are threats to get into the backfield and chase down quarterbacks. The pass defense has not been all that great, but it is a solid group that usually bends but does not break. While South Dakota State does not give up many big plays through the air, they get plenty from quarterbacks Zach Lujan and Taryn Christion and their talented receiving corps. Jake Wieneke is a 1,000 yard receiver and a big play threat every time he touches the ball. However, tight end Dallas Goedert and receivers Cam Jones, Connor Landberg and Brandon Andrews cannot be forgotten either.

Last season South Dakota State relied heavily on running back Zach Zenner. His 1,634 yards on the ground really opened up the offense for the 2014 Jackrabbits. Sophomore Brady Mengarelli has done an admirable job, but SDSU is not getting nearly as consistent of a running game this time around. That puts a lot of pressure on Lujan and Christion to do more than just manage games. Christion is the hot hand that Coach John Stiegelmeier is riding at the end of the year. Christion’s ability to run the ball helps make up for the lack of a consistent running game, but he is just a freshman and the playoffs will be a different atmosphere and it remains to be seen if he is ready to play mistake free football on the big stage.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Brady Mengarelli, RB, 738 yards
Passing: Zach Lujan, QB, 1,861 yards
Receiving: Jake Wieneke, WR, 1,344 yards
Tackles: Jesse Bobbit, LB, 94
Sacks: Jared Blum, DL, 4.0; Cole Langer, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Je Ryan Butler, DB, 2; Nick Farina, DB, 2; Jimmie Forsythe, DB, 2

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 132.5 (85th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 277.4 (16, 2)
Total Offense: 409.9 (42, 4)
Scoring Offense: 30.0 (40, 4)
Rushing Defense: 171.3 (70, 6)
Pass Defense: 179.6 (20, 2)
Total Defense: 350.9 (38, 5)
Scoring Defense: 15.4 (6, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.80 (14, 2)
Sacks: 1.60 (91, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (82, 8)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2014    First Round    Defeated Montana State
2014    Second Round    Lost to North Dakota State
2013    First Round    Defeated Northern Arizona
2013    Second Round    Lost to Eastern Washington
2012    First Round    Defeated Eastern Illinois
2012    Second Round    Lost to North Dakota State
2009    First Round    Lost to Montana

*all team stats through 11/14


Playoff Central