Some final thoughts on South Dakota State’s 28-3 loss to North Dakota State in Round 2 of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs:
Jacks sophomore kicker Justin Syrovatka made his only attempt to finish the season with 12 makes in a row. His season line: 18 of 22. That’s the second-most in school history behind Parker Douglass in 2005. But Douglass - who went on to get some NFL opportunities - had seven misses that season.
Syorvatka is 8th in the FCS at 1.38 field goals per game. Last year, SDSU was 9 of 14 on field goals.
SDSU finished the season giving up 16.4 points per game. That was 1.0 ppg better than the 2009 team, which also made the postseason. Coincidence? Nope. Some of the Jacks coaches see 17 as the number you need to win.
Senior LB Ross Shafrath made a career-high 18 tackles, giving him a school-record 150 for the season. That total is currently second in the FCS. He’s also second in solo tackles at 82.
Freshman linebacker T.J. Lally also broke the 100-tackle mark at 107, while adding six sacks and two interceptions.
Meanwhile, sophomore RB Zach Zenner has retained the rushing lead at 2,044 yards. Barring something crazy, the only guy with a shot to catch him is Wofford FB Eric Breitenstein at 1,900. However, Wofford heads to Fargo this week to take on the Bison, who haven’t given up a 100-yard rusher in any of the last 16 games.
SDSU lost four games this season, three inside domes. In those games, the Jacks scored 6, 17 and 3 points.
By comparison, they went 3-1 in outdoor road games, putting up 17, 31, 24 and 16 points.
That rugged turnout in last week’s playoff opener? It dropped the Jacks’ average home attendance to 11,843. That’s below the 12,105 from the 2011 season.
A couple areas where SDSU fell short this season and very well might put some offseason emphasis: The line allowed 44 sacks, ranking 115th in the FCS; the pass offense dropped from 13th to 75th; turnover margin wound up at minus-1; and the team ranked 62nd in penalties per game.
NDSU QB Brock Jensen was limping pretty good at the postgame press conference and said that he suffered ligament damage to his non-throwing hand. The junior said it’s too early to know if his practice or playing time in the quarterfinals will be affected.
Record watch: Zenner finished 11 yards shy of the school record for rushing in a season.
Senior Aaron Rollin finished fifth in career catches (140) and career receiving yards (1,878), while senior Tyrel Kool was sixth in catches (138).
Sophomore QB Austin Sumner moved into eighth in the career passing list (4,825) thanks to the seventh-best single-season output in school history (2,443).
The Bison said they got the trick play that scored a second-quarter touchdown from Ole Miss - the Rebels ran it with Dexter McCluster. SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier called it “a unique play.”
“When you have to defend something you haven’t seen, you better apply your rules and not panic,” he continued. “When you panic, things get out of hand.”
To that end, NDSU coach Craig Bohl mentioned that he figured the Jacks would have scouted every bit of film, one of the reasons the team put in a couple new plays.
“I think we made some mistakes today as coaches,” Stiegelmeier said. “We as coaches need to focus on this is what we run and if it’s working great, if not let’s coach it up to work rather than put more pressure on our players.”
In closing, this lopsided result on the heels of a game that could have gone either way just three weeks ago reminded me of a famous line from The Wire: “Come at the king, you best not miss.”
SDSU had a chance to beat NDSU in Fargo on Nov. 10 and didn’t finish the job. If it had, the Jacks and not the Bison are the Valley champs and the postseason pairings are different. Instead, the Jacks made themselves a threat to a team that’s developed the ability to up its game in the postseason.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.