#3 South Dakota State FCS Football 2017 Preview


South Dakota State Jackrabbits


Overall Rank: #3

#2 Missouri Valley

South Dakota State won a share of their first ever MVFC. The Jackrabbits finished 7-1 with a win over North Dakota State and their lone conference loss coming at Illinois State. That win over the rival Bison was a big win for the SDSU program. South Dakota State got a bye in the first round of the playoffs and then knocked off Villanova in the second round. That got the Jackrabbits to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history, but there North Dakota State got the last laugh and ended the Jackrabbits playoff run.
2016 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: John Stiegelmeier (137-94 at South Dakota State, 137-94 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Eidsness
Defensive Coordinator: Clint Brown
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brady Mengarelli, RB, 754 yards
Passing: Taryn Christion, QB, 3,714 yards
Receiving: Jake Wieneke, WR, 1,316 yards
Tackles: Christian Rozeboom, LB, 132
Sacks: Kellen Soulek, DT, 7.5
Interceptions: Christian Rozeboom, LB, 2; Jordan Brown, CB, 2; Makiah Slade, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Issac Wallace, TE Dallas Goedert, OL Jacob Ohnesorge, S Chris Balster, CB Anthony Washington
Key Losses: DB Dallas Brown, LB Jessee Bobbit, DL Cole Langer
The Missouri Valley’s top scoring offense returns nine starters. Quarterback Taryn Christion is the reigning MVFC Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also rushed for 335 yards and six more touchdowns. The passing game, which averaged 292.5 yards per game through the air, could be even better in 2017. Wide receiver Jake Wieneke caught 78 passes for 1,316 yards and 16 touchdowns last year and is one of the best receivers in the country. The Jackrabbits also have one of the best tight ends. Dallas Goedert caught an amazing 92 passes, which set a school record, for 1,293 yards and 11 scores. SDSU will pass the ball a lot, but the ground game was solid last year and will be again in 2017. Brady Mengarelli and Isaac Wallace both return. Mengarelli rushed for 754 yards and four touchdowns, while Wallace added 519 yards and four more scores. The offensive line returns four starters so all of the skill players should have plenty of time to operate.
The defense got better as last season progressed and Coach John Stiegelmeier hopes that trend can continue. However, there are some big holes to fill. Cole Langer is gone after tallying 5.0 sacks and 40 total tackles. Defensive tackle Kellen Soulek led the team with 7.5 sacks and 10.0 tackles-for-loss and he will be joined by Blake Whitsell. Ryan Earith was a starter at the end of last season and the return of Chase Kern from injury gives the group plenty of options. The clear superstar of the defense is Christian Rozeboom. As a freshman last year he recorded 132 tackles. A couple new starters need to be found to fill in around Rozeboom. Eric Kleinschmit has some experience, but SDSU may have to rely on underclassmen Logan Backhaus, Brandon Thomas, Kyle Tuttle, Noah Urbanek and Seven Wilson. Cornerbacks Jordan Brown and Anthony Washington were both very good last season and are ready to emerge as more consistent players now that they have some experience. Safeties Nick Farina and Chris Balster have starting experience as well and there is proven depth with Alex Romenesko and Makiah Slade.
The Bottom Line:
Non-conference games against Duquesne, Drake and at Montana State are not easy games. However, with a conference opener at Youngstown State on September 30th, South Dakota State fans will be looking ahead to that huge game. If South Dakota State wants to win another title, they basically have to win tough road games like that one. A couple weeks later they host Northern Iowa, but the toughest stretch comes in late October and early November when the Jackrabbits head to Western Illinois and host North Dakota State. In the end South Dakota State will probably lose a game or two, but they have the offensive firepower and enough stars on defense to make an even deeper playoff run in 2017.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 145.0 (71st in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 292.5 (11, 2)
Total Offense: 437.5 (19, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.2 (18, 1)
Rushing Defense: 174.9 (71, 7)
Pass Defense: 228.8 (76, 6)
Total Defense: 403.7 (73, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.3 (57, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 3)
Sacks: 2.31 (38, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (50, 4)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#73 Daniel Callendar
#149 Deyon Campbell
#169 Malik Lofton
#184 Levi Brown
#203 Jonathan Gruetzmacher