South Dakota State Preview: #12 Jackrabbits at Southern Illinois
One week after an impressive win at home over a top ten team, South Dakota State has a different kind of challenge awaiting in week two of Missouri Valley Conference play - winning a game on the road as favorites.
The Jackrabbits (2-2) play at Southern Illinois, Saturday, against a team that despite winning just three games all of last year, always seemed to be competitive. Six of SIU’s eight losses in 2015 were by six points or less. Five of their eight losses were by three points or fewer.
One thing Southern Illinois does well is winning night games at home. All five of their wins over the past two seasons have come in evening kickoffs at Saluki Stadium.
There have been come big changes in Carbondale in 2016. The Salukis (2-2) are now lead by first year head coach Nick Hill, who, nine years ago, was the SIU starting quarterback. He joined Dale Lennon's staff in 2014 and was promoted from offensive coordinator when Lennon was fired after last season.
The Salukis have a new quarterback this season as well. Division II transfer Josh Straughan has only started three games, but was named the MVC's newcomer of the week after two of them. Most recently going 27-for-34 for 289 yards and four touchdowns three weeks ago against Murray State. Straughan is averaging 307 yards a game through the air, that's fifth best in the country.
Running back Daquan Isom is averaging 75 yards rushing per game and better than six yards per carry. Seven different receivers have caught touchdown passes this season. Wide receiver Darrel James racked up 117 yards against Northern Iowa last week.
Southern Illinois will also play a new defensive scheme in 2016. After playing the 3-4 defense for the last eight seasons, SIU will play the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Kraig Paulson.
The Salukis have shown incredible quickness off the line, leading the MVC and ranking fourth nationally in tackles for loss per game (9). They have also been stingy on third down, with opponents converting only 29 percent of the time; that's tenth best in the nation.
Defensive end Deondre Barnett already has three forced fumbles this season. He ranks second nationally in forced fumbles per game and has four quarterback sacks. Linebacker Chase Allen is one of the top tacklers in the league.
Kickoff is 6:00 PM, Saturday, in Carbondale. This is the first meeting between SDSU and SIU since 2013.
South Dakota State started Missouri Valley play last week with a 52-14 win over then #8 Western Illinois.
A blocked punt put the Jacks in a hole early, and SDSU trailed 14-7 after one quarter. But then the offense exploded for 45 unanswered points and the defense shutout the Leathernecks over the final three quarters.
Tight end Dallas Goedert had a career night with eight catches for 204 yards and four touchdowns. The four scoring grabs tied a school record for most in a game. Jake Wieneke added seven catches for 102 yards.
Quaterback Taryn Christion threw for five touchdowns and 361 yards on the night, thanks to great protection from his offensive line, which didn't allow a sack.
Defensively, linebacker Christian Rozeboom led the way with ten tackles, a sack, and an interception return for a touchdown. Defensive back Dallas Brown also had a pick-six for the Jackrabbit defense. Those interceptions were Western Illinois' first turnovers of the season.
The SDSU defense limited the conference's leading rusher, Steve McShane, to 56 yards on 14 carries.
I talked with SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier about the win over the Leathernecks and Saturday's game at Southern Illinois: