Dance, dance revolution

The South Dakota State athletic department has a new marketing and promotions guru, and (outdated reference alert) – like Humpty from Digital Underground – he even has his own dance. Sort of.

Eric Hrubes was part of the crew at Northern Iowa that incorporated the Interlude Dance. Here’s a clip, if you aren’t familiar.

Basically, a couple students pitched the idea to him. He said they could try it during halftime of a women’s basketball game as long as they brought along at least 100 friends. They bettered that and wowed the crowd with their routine. It has since become a staple at most UNI sporting events, made national news and circled YouTube.

Is Hrubes going to try to bring that to Brookings? Not necessarily. Among the things he learned from the rise of the Interlude Dance: “Don’t turn (ideas) down and don’t press it on the people.”

To that end, UNI didn’t teach fans the dance – they let that happen organically. And it did. Now, even the old folks are into it.

As for his plans at SDSU, Hrubes just started his job Monday and has yet to attend a sporting event – so specifics will take time. But he has a general philosophy in mind.

"I just want to keep up with the South Dakota State tradition that’s going on," the Iowa native said. "Everything’s going great, it’s just how can we enhance it and improve everything and increase attendance at all of our home game.s I’m really big on atmosphere."

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

UNI wrap

Some final thoughts from SDSU’s 31-14 loss to No. 2 Northern Iowa on Saturday night:

The Jacks have given up 249 points through seven games this fall, surpassing the total given up in the entire 2010 and 2009 seasons. Coach John Stiegelmeier summed up the issues in one word: Breakdowns.
Some have been physical, but seemingly more have been mental - blown assignments and such.

The 17-point spread was the largest in this series in 13 games dating back to 1972 when the two programs were in the North Central Conference. SDSU is just 1-5 against the Panthers at the D-I level.

SDSU threw four interceptions, the most since Ryan Berry threw five in the 2008 season opener at Iowa State. The senior Berry went on to have three straight 300-yard efforts that game year. Jacks redshirt freshman QB Austin Sumner is on that same streak now.
On a related note, UNI has intercepted 14 passes this season, while throwing none. That’s the best margin in all of Division I football.
The common explanation for the four picks on Saturday against Sumner, who had thrown just two in his first three starts: Athleticism. UNI broke well to the ball.

In other turnover news, SDSU has fumbled 12 times, losing seven of them. RB Tyrel Kool has become the primary culprit. His last two fumbles have set up touchdowns for the opponent.

O’Gorman grad Phil Wright is a third-year sophomore cornerback at UNI. He has one tackle in one game this season.

Injury update: SDSU RB Zach Zenner got dinged late in the game, but coach John Stiegelmeier wasn’t sure of the extent. Also, Sumner played the last series with one foot/ankle heavily taped.
For UNI, All-American defensive end Ben Boothby went down with less than 20 seconds remaining, although early indications were that it wasn’t anything major.

Stiegelmeier’s thoughts on almost certainly missing the playoffs for a second straight year:
"We hadn’t talked about that since fall camp. I’m sure you daydream, a program daydreams, a player daydreams, but we’re not going to address it because it’s one game at a time. This program will be back in the playoffs. I guarantee you that, I promise you that."

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Here come the Panthers

Some odds and ends in advance of South Dakota State hosting No. 2-ranked Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. Saturday. I’ll have live coverage starting at 5 p.m. at Argus Leader.com:

With Western Illinois installing turf, the Jacks are the only Valley squad to play home games on grass. Does the team see that as an edge, especially against dome teams like UNI and NDSU?
"I take it as an advantage if the wind’s blowing and our fans are into the game," coach John Stiegelmeier said. "A lot of those teams practice on grass or are able to practice on grass so it’s not like going to a foreign country and playing. Most of them grew up playing on grass."

For what it’s worth, here’s a comparison between Thomas O’Brien and Austin Sumner in their three starts this season:
O’Brien 63 of 103 for 692 yards with 5 TDs, 7 INTs and 0 rush TDs
Sumner 66 of 115 for 844 yards with 5 TDs, 2 INTs and 2 rush TDs
"I don’t see much difference from the other guy to the one they’re playing," UNI coach Mark Farley said. "The more experience he gets the better he gets."

The SDSU ticket office is having a hard time getting a bead on a crowd projection given that it’s the pheasant hunting opener. At this point, somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 seems probable.

The Jacks will not yet regain the services of starting defensive tackle Chase Douglas. But he continues to make progress and next week is a possibility.
Meanwhile, UNI coach Mark Farley said it’s likely that RB Carlos Anderson will return from injury. Then again, Farley said something similar last week and it didn’t happen.

This week’s black shirts: safety Anthony Wise and linebacker Mike Lien.

SDSU posted season highs last week in almost every offensive category yet the offensive line didn’t grade out much better than it had in previous showings, according to OC Luke Meadows. That needs to change this week against UNI, a team with two Buck Buchanan candidates in its front seven.

The Panthers won’t arrive in Brookings until game day, but they will leave Cedar Falls on Friday. In the past, they’ve gone back and forth on whether to just do the whole trip in one day or show up Friday.

The Sagarin Ratings have UNI as a 13.5-point favorite this week. That same system ranks UNI at No. 72 in all of NCAA Division I football - better than 15 teams in BCS conferences.
However, the last 11 meetings in the series have been decided by 14 points or less.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

We’ve got a special Missouri Valley Football Conference edition for you as the league held its annual media day Monday via teleconference. A few notes from each of the nine member programs in order of predicated finish:

1. Northern Iowa
Coach Mark Farley had to reschedule his time with the media because he was repping the school in a golf fundraiser hosted by PGA Tour player Zach Johnson … The Panthers will be searching for a new kicker … Farley on the prospects for the season: “When I go back and look at last year, I just felt that (QB) Tirrell Rennie, our football team did a phenomenal job putting together the season we did with an inexperienced football team. This year, we’re going in with the experience so we’re looking forward to seeing what we can put together on the field.”

2. North Dakota State
Brock Jensen has already been named the starting QB, putting the Bison ahead of where they were last year … Coach Craig Bohl called graduated DL Matt Gratzek arguably the best player in the Valley last year … NDSU is in search of a new punter, a point of concern.

3. Southern Illinois
The Salukis return all five starting offensive linemen and two of them are all-conference picks … Paul McIntosh is the favorite to win the QB battle, but the program landed a solid transfer in A.J. Hill from Northern Illinois. His brother, Nick, played the same position at SIU. … Coach Dale Lennon put the blame for last year’s lackluster season on inconsistency.

4. South Dakota State
The Jacks face another challenging non-league schedule as Southern Utah, Cal Poly and Illinois all finished above .500 last year … Turnover margin is going to be a point of emphasis … Coach John Stiegelmeier said this of embattled returning QB Thomas O’Brien: “He needs to play better, he needs to take care of the football, he needs to mature. He’s played a lot of football for us and this is the year he needs to put his foot down and make plays.”

5. Illinois State
Coach Brock Spack said this is the best team he’s had since joining the school and the previous two both finished over .500 … The Redbirds return 10 starters on offense … The defense struggled last year. How does Spack expect to fix that? “It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it,” he said.

6. Indiana State
The Sycamores weren’t picked last for a change, but they were picked relatively low considering they have 19 returning starters and six all-conference individuals … The program has grown up under coach Trent Miles going from three seniors to five seniors to seven seniors to now 20 seniors … The team will place two FBS foes this year, a major change from when it used to play two non-DIs per season.

7. Western Illinois
Why are the Leathernecks tabbed so low coming off a run to the second round of the playoffs? Because they graduated stars QB Matt Barr and LB Kyle Glazier … WIU returns 12 starters … Wil Lunt and juco transfer Josh Hudson are competing for the QB job.

8. Youngstown State
Eric Wolford begins his second year as coach with seven returning starters on offense led by Walter Payton candidate Jamaine Cook … The Penguins are focused on finishing games after blowing a handful of fourth-quarter leads last season … Wolford is also changing the approach to road games because YSU travels a minimum of six hours for every away date.

9. Missouri State
Why were the Bears picked last? Largely because they play Oregon and Arkansas - two teams in the BCS Bowl Series last year - and have their first four games on the road. That’s followed by the home opener against UNI. “In the state of Missouri we’ve got a little financial problem,” coach Terry Allen explained. “We need the money for our athletic department. That’s something the football program can do and that’s why we took those games on.” … The biggest personnel issue will be replacing four-year QB Cody Kirby.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.


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