South Dakota State FCS Football 2012 Playoff Capsule

South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Missouri Valley


Schedules in the Missouri Valley Football Conference are never easy and South Dakota State managed to navigate through their tough schedule with just three losses. And losing at Kansas, at Northern Iowa and at North Dakota State are not bad losses at all. If it was not for wins at Indiana State and at Southern Illinois, two very tough places to play, the Jackrabbits would not even come close to sniffing the playoffs. But they won those games and Coach John Stiegelmeier has a well-tested team.

2012 Record: 8-3, 6-2
Coach: John Stiegelmeier

Big Wins: 9/22 at Indiana State (24-10), 10/27 Youngstown State (41-28)
Bad Losses: 10/20 at Northern Iowa (6-27), 10/10 at North Dakota State (17-20)

The Jackrabbits defense has been so successful because of their pass rush. Linebackers T.J. Lally and Doug Peete are very versatile players who can drop back into coverage when needed, but those two also spend a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield. With the help of linemen Marshall Peugh and David Hettinger, it is difficult to tell where South Dakota State’s pressure will come from. Ross Shafrath’s ability to hunt down the ball carrier and drop into coverage gives the Jackrabbits quite a few options when blitzing with Lally and Peete. The secondary is also strong enough to hold their own when they are left alone. Bo Helm and Skyler Luxa are both senior safeties who have the quickness and instincts to make play after play. Corners Winston Wright and David Godley have done an admirable job. The opposition usually attempts to avoid Wright, but he still finds a way to get involved.

South Dakota State’s offense is not exactly prolific. In over half of their games they have scored 17 points or fewer. They have won quite a few of those games thanks to the defense, but that may not work out so well in the playoffs. Running back Zach Zenner had a great year, rushing for over 1,500 yards. Yet, the passing game has been horribly inconsistent. Austin Sumner has thrown just one more touchdown than interceptions and the Jackrabbits cannot afford to lose the turnover battle. Sumner’s interceptions largely are a result of pressure. Just a few teams allow more sacks than South Dakota State. Against a team with a good front four that can get to Sumner, SDSU will have major problems getting the ball moving through the air at all.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Zach Zenner, RB, 1,703 yards
Passing: Austin Sumner, QB, 2,101 yards
Receiving: Tyrel Kool, WR, 519 yards
Tackles: Ross Shafrath, LB, 125
Sacks: T.J. Lally, LB, 6.0; Doug Peete, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Skyler Luxa, S, 3

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.30 (43rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 186.10 (78, 6)
Total Offense: 355.40 (72, 5)
Scoring Offense: 21.20 (88, 6)
Rushing Defense: 122.70 (18, 4)
Pass Defense: 178.20 (23, 4)
Total Defense: 300.90 (10, 3)
Scoring Defense: 16.70 (9, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.50 (95, 8)
Sacks: 2.90 (13, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 3.60 (116, 10)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2009    First Round    Lost to Montana

*all team stats through 11/10


Playoff Central