South Dakota State Preview: Jackrabbits Host Cal Poly
After weathering all of the hype and hoolpa surrounding the opening of their new stadium last week, the South Dakota State football team closes out the non-conference portion of the 2016 schedule this week, lining up against a team that is going to present them with some challenges.
The Mustangs (1-1), gave FBS Nevada a scare in week one before falling in overtime. Cal Poly notched victory number one at home last week, beating San Diego, 38-16 win.
In the game, the Mustangs ran for 354 yards, as fullback Joe Protheroe led the way with 131 yards, his second 100-yard rushing day in as many games this season. Protheroe has gone over 100 yards in a game six times in his career.
Quarterback Dano Graves, a transfer from Air Force, also averaged more than seven yards a carry last week, finishing the game with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown, to go along with 130 passing yards and two scores.
Six Cal Poly players had at least five carries against San Diego. So far in 2016, the Mustangs have out rushed opponents 737 yards to just 299 yards. They have only attempted 21 passes in two games, completing just ten.
Defensively, Cal Poly varies their looks up front, but has only gotten to the opposing quarterback three times this season and has yet to force a turnover. They are trying to fill the void left by the graduation of last season's top two tacklers.
Last year, the Mustangs were next -to-last in the Big Sky in pass defense (allowing 287 yards per game), and third from the bottom in scoring defense (allowing more than 35 points a game).
Kickoff in Brookings is 6:00 PM, Saturday.
This will be the ninth meeting between the Jacks and Mustangs. Cal Poly won five of the first eight games with SDSU, with most of those match-ups coming when the two teams were members of the Great West Conference.
The Jackrabbits opened their new home with a flourish last week, scoring the first 21 points of the game, in less than 12 minutes, en route to a 56-28 win over Drake.
Two of those scores came on Taryn Christion-to-Jake Wieneke touchdown passes. Christion ran 36-yards for the other score.
A Brady Mengarelli 51-yard run in the second quarter set up a third Christion-to-Wieneke scoring strike, giving the All-American wide receiver a piece of SDSU's all-time career touchdown reception record (32). Christion threw for 224 and four scores.
The most dramatic of the touchdown catches came courtesy of tight end Dallas Goedert, whose one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone made the national highlight reels.
The offense finished the day with 460 total yards and no turnovers.
In the second half, the Jackrabbit defense and special teams each put points on the board.
Lineman Jared Blum made an athletic play on a pass deep in Drake territory and dove into the end zone for a touchdown. Later, Cody Hazelett blocked a Bulldog punt and Jake Harms scooped it up for a score.
The SDSU defense also got interceptions from linebacker Jessie Bobbit and lineman Austin Smenda. In two games, the Jacks have picked off five passes.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier the match-up with Cal Poly: