#8 South Dakota State FCS Football 2019 Preview

South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Overall Rank: #8
#2 Missouri Valley
 South Dakota State Logo
South Dakota State has been to seven straight playoffs and has reached the semifinals in the last two seasons. Last year the Jackrabbits cruised past Duquesne and Kennesaw State before running into North Dakota in the semifinals. Now SDSU will look to take the next step and reach the championship game.
2018 Record: 10-3, 6-2
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: John Stiegelmeier (158-100 at South Dakota State, 158-100 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Eck
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Bergstrom, Jimmy Rogers
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Pierre Strong, RB, 1,116 yards
Passing: Kanin Nelson, QB, 145 yards
Receiving: Cade Johnson, WR, 1,332 yards
Tackles: Christian Rozeboom, LB, 105
Sacks: Ryan Earith, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Logan Backhaus, LB, 2; Christian Rozeboom, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Mikey Daniel, WR Adam Anderson, TE Blake Kunz, S Joshua Manchigiah, CB Marshon Harris, DT Krockett Krolikowski
Key Losses: RB Isaac Wallace, QB Taryn Christion, OL Tiano Pupugatoa, CB Zy Mosley, DB Jordan Brown, LB Dalton Cox, S Brandon Snyder, P Brady Hale
South Dakota State’s potent offense that scored 42.5 points per game last season could take a step back without quarterback Taryn Christion. He threw for 3,020 yards and 32 touchdowns during his senior season and added six more scores on the ground. Redshirt freshman J’Bore Gibbs is the most likely candidate to take the job. Gibbs will have an enormous amount of talent to help ease him into the starting role. Cade Johnson recorded 67 receptions for 1,332 yards and 17 touchdowns and will be Gibbs’ top target. With Adam Anderson, Jacob Brown and tight end Blake Kunz also returning, the passing game has some impressive talent. If the passing game does struggle, South Dakota State can give the ball to Pierre Strong and Mikey Daniel. Strong rushed for 1,116 yards and 11 scores, while Daniel added 630 yards and ten touchdowns.
The front seven is loaded with experience and talent. Defensive end Ryan Earith led the team with 5.5 sacks and tackles. Krockett Krolikowski added 4.0 sacks as a freshman. At linebacker, SDSU has one of the best players in the FCS. Christian Rozeboom tallied 105 tackles last season and added 10.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Logan Backhaus will again flank Rozeboom after tallying 61 tackles in 2018. The biggest concerns are in the secondary where Zy Mosley, Jordan Brown and Brandon Snyder need to be replaced. Safety Joshua Manchigiah and cornerback Marshon Harris are a solid duo to build around. Depth could be a concern in the secondary though and the unit may not be able to afford any injuries.
The Bottom Line:
If Gibbs can live up to his potential, the Jackrabbits will compete for a conference title. Of course in order for that to happen, SDSU will have to get past North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits host their rivals on October 26th. That may be the key game for South Dakota State fans, but there are plenty of other big conference games, including a potential trap game the week before at Indiana State. Even if there are a couple stumbles along the way, this is a South Dakota State team that has the potential to make another very deep playoff run.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 230.1 (18th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 250.5 (34, 3)
Total Offense: 480.5 (10, 1)
Scoring Offense: 42.5 (5, 1)
Rushing Defense: 188.2 (78, 6)
Pass Defense: 197.5 (35, 5)
Total Defense: 385.8 (60, 6)
Scoring Defense: 22.3 (25, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.15 (6, 2)
Sacks: 1.54 (88, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (15, 2)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#116 Devin Blakley
#149 Jarod DePriest
#234 Diamond Evans