South Dakota State Preview: Jackrabbits with Bye Week before Opening Missouri Valley Play
South Dakota State has an extra week to take stock of its' 2016 schedule so far and what might have been.
There have been plenty of positives for the Jackrabbits (1-2), who are averaging nearly 43 points per game, thanks to nearly 420 yards in total offense each time out. Wide receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert are off to outstanding starts with 34 catches and 11 touchdowns between them. Quarterback Taryn Christion has thrown 10 touchdowns against just one interception, and has run for two scores.
The defense, meanwhile, has forced six turnovers which have led to 35 SDSU points. Linebacker Jesse Bobbit leads the way with 29 tackles and is one of four players with an interception. Defensive back Dallas Brown has three-and-a-half tackles for loss.
But three games in, there are some trends developing that are causing a lot of head scratching in Brookings.
In three games, the SDSU defense has allowed an average of 250 yards rushing and has sacked the opposing quarterback just three times (all against Drake). The offensive line, meanwhile, has given up seven sacks during that time.
The defense is allowing 42 points per game and has been unsuccessful stopping the opposition on third down 56 percent of the time. The unit has been stingy in the first quarter, allowing just 14 points, but has had trouble finishing games, yielding 49 points in the final 15 minutes.
The latest team to put up gaudy numbers against the Jackrabbits is Cal Poly, who left Dykhouse Stadium with more than 600 yards of total offense, including 440 on the ground in a 38-31 win.
SDSU knew it might struggle to contain the Mustangs' triple-option running attack, but did expect to keep Cal Poly's passing game in check. CP didn't throw much (just 11 attempts), but managed nine completions (82%) for an average gain of 18 yards.
So rather than begin the season 2-1, or even 3-0, the Jackrabbits find themselves with a pair of losses and plenty of question marks.
That's the backdrop heading into the only week off during the regular season. A week head coach John Stiegelmeier is referring to as an 'improvement week' rather a 'bye week'.
After SDSU checks themselves, they'll turn their attention to the Missouri Valley Conference opener, October 1, against Western Illinois.
I talked with coach Stiegelmeier about the Cal Poly loss and the bye week: