Week 5 wrap

Here are some final notes from South Dakota State’s 20-0 loss to North Dakota State on Saturday in Brookings:

In the last three series wins, the Bison have racked up 35:08, 37:54 and 40:20 in time of possession. They’ve also totaled 16 sacks.
That’s more than made up for creating only two turnovers.

SDSU junior RB Zach Zenner is no longer the FCS rushing leader after being held to four yards on eight carries. His previous career low was 11 yards on five carries at Illinois in the second game of his college career.

Jackrabbits coach John Stiegelmeier was fired up about his team committing four penalties for 48 yards in the second half compared to just one for one in the first half. He was especially miffed about a personal foul taken by defensive tackle Bryan Burke in the third quarter that gave NDSU a first down in a third-and-9 situation.
"That’s simply not only being out of control, but ‘I’m more important than the rest of you guys,’" he said. "That’s not Jackrabbit football." 
NDSU was atypical in that regard, too, committing 10 penalties for 62 yards compared to seven for 65 in the first three games combined. The Bison also struggled with several low snaps, but avoided major trouble on any of them.

What went into the SDSU defense being significantly better than the week before?
"We got the call in quicker," Stiegelmeier explained, "because we were allowing our players to play as opposed to wanting to have the perfect call. The perfect all is the one that get in on time."
He also credited the coaches in the booth with keeping track of personnel changes. 
Still, the Jacks missed several opportunities to bring down Bison quarterback Brock Jensen. Why is he so hard to tackle?
"He just makes a play when he needs to make them," said SDSU linebacker R.C. Kilgore, who had a career high 17 tackles. "Have a lot of respect for him as I’m sure the rest of the country does, too." 

Jacks true sophomore linebacker Charles Elmore made nine stops in his return from a two-game absence, while senior safety Andrew Brown had a career best 11 stops in addition to his second pick of the season.

For as good as the SDSU lines are believed to be, the Jacks have given up 12 sacks and tallied just three over the last two games. 

This game was said to be considerably more physical than the one the Jacks faced at Nebraska. That’s evident in the vague injury report.
Without naming names, Stiegelmeier said that one starter will have a knee evaluated. There was also a serious bruise and a broken hand.

NDSU coach Craig Bohl sought out SDSU athletic director Justin Sell on the field before the game and walked him to a set of three portable advertisements located between the south end zone and the NDSU sideline. Bohl then flagged down the officials and had a discussion with them, too.
It’s unclear what the the issue was. 

How many Bison fans were at the game? That’s hard to say. Instead, I present a personal observation: I usually arrive two hours before kickoff and have my pick of parking spots near Briggs Library. This time, I showed up 2.5 hours early and got one of the last spots in that lot.

And, finally, a look at the new jerseys SDSU will debut Saturday against Southern Illinois, as tweeted by AD Justin Sell. They seem to warrant some sort of nickname. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Argus Leader sports editor Stu Whitney had me on his show Sports Web Live on Wednesday to talk South Dakota State football. 

Too Much TV: Craig Bohl


This week on the Too Much TV podcast, Bison football boss Craig Bohl on hosting College GameDay, building a dynasty and facing South Dakota State this week in one of the biggest games in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium history.

Here are three ways to listen: linklink and link

Also, the weekly live chat is on deck for 2 p.m. Thursday. But before that I’ll be the guest on Sports Web Live at 4 p.m. Wednesday at ArgusLeader.com.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Week 4 wrap

Some final thoughts on South Dakota State’s 59-20 loss at Nebraska on Saturday:

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said that the Cornhuskers had their worst performance of the season defensively. That wasn’t true from a yards allowed standout - in that regard this was their second-best of the season.
Still, SDSU exceeded its pregame average of 448.7 yards per game by going for 465 and star RB Zach Zenner went for 202 up from his previous average of 180.0.

Jacks sophomore tight end Cam Jones had the best receiving game of his young career, hauling in a team-high six passes for 68 yards. He had five catches over the first three games and continues to be slowed by a foot/ankle issue.

It’s easy to tell by looking at the stats that SDSU QB Austin Sumner is healthier and/or further along mentally than he was last season. Through four games in 2012, he was 48 of 102 for 551 yards with 4 TDs and 6 INTS. Four games in this season, he’s 65 of 107 for 993 yards with 5 TDs to 2 INTs.

After totaling eight sacks in the first three games, SDSU didn’t record any at Nebraska. The Jacks didn’t even record a QB hurry. Coach John Stiegelmeier described the pass rush as non-existant.
"Disappointing," he said. "I don’t know – I think we’ve got a pretty good d-line so I don’t know how it happened like that. It’s tough. Our d-line coach said when we rushed they were basically just grabbing us and holding us inside. Until I watch the film, I don’t know about that."
SDSU hadn’t been shutout in terms of sacks since Oct. 20, 2012 at UNI - also a loss. 

Arguably one of the bigger plays of the game: SDSU failing to convert a third-and-2 from midfield on its first possession of the second quarter. At that point, the Jacks were within 21-14, scoring on all three tries. They were on the move again when forced to punt for the first time. Nebraska scored on its ensuing drive, picked off a pass to set up another touchdown and then tacked on a late field goal to push the lead to 38-17 at the half.

There were mixed signals on the Nebraska-kids-return-to-home-state angle after the game. Jacks OL Mike Shoff said that it an emotional contest for him given that he always wanted to play for the Huskers.
"But I’m happy where I am now," he said.
Meanwhile, Stiegelmeier was asked by a reporter if he made an effort to get local kids on the field late in the game. He said that he did not because that would be a tourist mentality.

A third-quarter miss from 32 yards by junior kicker Justin Syrovatka ended his school record for consecutive makes at 15. That included a career-long tying 48-yard job in the first quarter to give SDSU its only lead.
The Roosevelt High grad had not missed since Sept. 29, 2012 at Missouri State.

Jacks sophomore linebacker R.C. Kilgore had 15 tackles, extending by five the career high he set the week before. He also had two fumble recoveries and tried to downplay the suggestion that it would be hard for the defense to move on from getting torched.
"We go into every week aiming to do our best, swarm to the ball," he said. "Just didn’t get it done today."
For as many passing yards as SDSU allowed, and that was more than 300 for the third week in a row, it could have been worse. The Jacks broke up three would-be touchdown passes in the end zone.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Countdown to … North Dakota

Here’s a pile of news and notes in advance of South Dakota State visiting North Dakota on Saturday evening. I’ll have complete live coverage starting around 5 p.m.:

Remember how SDSU last week held a ground breaking for its forthcoming indoor practice facility? UND is doing the same this week. Both buildings will have 300-meter tracks and 100 yards of synthetic turf.
However, the NoDak venue - to go up on the site of the old Ralph Engelstad Arena - will cost $13 million. SDSU is spending up to $32 million.  

This game is the Potato Bowl - there’s reason to fear that designation. North Dakota has won the event 10 years in a row and 17 of the last 18.

The Jacks haven’t played in Grand Forks since 2001 meaning nobody on the team has a frame of reference for that. However, coach John Stiegelmeier does. He’s led SDSU there three times in the past, losing each meeting and by a combined score of 114-16 with one of those being in the Alerus Center. Plus, the Jacks are 1-9 indoors at the FCS level.
Former UND coach Dale Lennon, now at Southern Illinois, said this week that the Alerus Center - which had new turf put in during the offseason - is toughest on opponents when it gets noisy. 

On the injury front, Stiegelmeier said that SDSU continues to be in good shape, while UND coach Chris Mussman is hoping that starting center Shea Walker will be able to play. He dinged a shoulder against Valpo. North Dakota has the benefit of two additional days off by virtue of opening on a Thursday.

Don’t be surprised to see the Jacks use more of the new nickel look it debuted last week against Butler. In that set, CB Winston Wright lines up as the third linebacker. 

UND has a unique schedule this season. It doesn’t play an FBS foe and plays the first four games at home – three against top-25 teams (SDSU, Montana, Montana State). Highly regarded Eastern Washington will travel to Grand Forks, too. 

Between the two teams, there are a few skill guys left who factored into the last series meeting in 2010, a 21-0 Jacks victory in Brookings. Included: North Dakota RB Jake Miller and WR Greg Hardin and SDSU WR Brandon Hubert. 
Stiegelmeier said this about Hardin: “He can wiggle and make you miss and he can run really fast upfield and in cuts. He’s a really special player. We’ve seen some of these types of guys in the Missouri Valley, but he’s as complete as we’ve seen.”

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Countdown to … Butler

In the return of a weekly fall segment, here are some notes in advance of the South Dakota State vs. Butler football game slated for Saturday evening in Brookings. I’ll have live online coverage starting around 5 p.m.:

The Jacks on Thursday practiced under the lights at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium for a third time already this fall. Coach John Stiegelmeier believes that helps acclimate the young players to the surroundings. And SDSU has roughly 15 guys on the depth chart for the first time, including three true freshmen: long snapper Thayer Trenhaile, linebacker Jesse Bobbit and defensive tackle Cole Langer. The former Dell Rapids star Langer was the last to join that list.
"I fought it, battled every coach we had," Stiegelmeier said, "but when I watched practice and film it’s obvious he’s a really good football player." 

Pretty short injury list as of Thursday night: LS Matt Peitz, DE Matt Romano (boot on right foot) and S Mark Pickerel (cast on left arm) weren’t dressed, while DT Jordan Brichacek was limited. 

As pointed out by a reader this week, the Cereal Bowl - held annually from 1996-2012 - has disappeared from the schedule.
Why? SDSU athletic director Justin Sell said that the participating commodity groups have decided to focus their sponsorships of SDSU in other areas for now - they’re still involved in numerous ways in athletics and academics. Sell said that annual September event could return in the future. 

Obviously, Butler is known as a basketball school having been to the NCAA Division I title game a couple of times in a row. But just how much of a basketball school is it? The reported men’s basketball expenses for 2011-12 (the most recently available data) were $3.9 million. Football was listed at $648,837.
Meanwhile, SDSU spent $913,067 on men’s hoops and $2.4 million on football.  

The Saturday game will air on Midco Sports Net - as will SDSU games against North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and South Dakota. Dates with Southern Illinois and Western Illinois are set for ESPN3, while Mediacom will carry those two plus Missouri State. 
Coverage (and game time) for the Nebraska game remains up in the air, but could end up on the Big Ten Network. That would leave only two SDSU contests - home dates with Southeastern Louisiana and Indiana State - devoid of TV feeds. Those will air exclusively on GoJacks.com, which is preparing to debut an HD feed. 

SDSU will use two different snappers on special teams in light of an injury to incumbent starter Peitz. Trenhaile will handle the punts and Taylor Suess - the starting center - will handle field goals.
The Jacks will also use two kickers as Justin Syrovatka will handle field goals and Jay Carlson kickoffs. Stiegelmeier said that Carlson has the bigger leg, but Syrovatka - who had a strong 2012 season - has been more accurate on field goals.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Too Much TV: Butler football


The Too Much TV podcast refuses to over think things this week, going with the flow in a football-related show.

The guest: Butler coach Jeff Voris. He sizes of facing South Dakota State in the Saturday opener and functioning in a non-scholarship program in the FCS.

Here are three ways to listen: linklink and link

Also, the weekly live chat is on deck for 2 p.m. Thursday. I’ll take your questions for an hour.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Camp Chronicles: Aug. 26

The South Dakota State football team wrapped up fall camp Saturday night with walkthrough/practice/scrimmage under the lights at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. Now, the Jackrabbits will begin to prep for this week’s season opener against Butler. 

The latest news and notes:

The only long-term injury heading into the season is to veteran long snapper Matt Peitz. He could be done for good, although he hopes to rest and rehab enough to be able to return, according to coach John Stiegelmeier. That means true freshman Thayer Threnhaile will get the call.
There are also questions about redshirt freshman running back Isaac Rodgriquez. He wore a walking cast on his left foot Saturday. Reserves linebacker Patrick Schuster and Nick Carr also did not play.

The official depth chart will come out later this week, but the Saturday workout gave a glimpse at where things stand. Of note are a couple of moves on the offensive line: Senior Taylor Suess is penciled in as the starting center - juniors Nick Purcell and Andrew Mueller also got reps there during camp - and redshirt freshman Mike Shoff has surpassed senior Josh Kage at a guard spot.

Linebacker was a strange spot during camp as Kevin Klocek and Matt Romano left there for DE, Robbie Jelsma quit due to injuries and now Dallas Brown slides there from safety. The redshirt freshman Brown was a corner last fall, went into this camp as a safety and recently served as a LB/S hybrid in nickel packages. Now, he’s a full-time backer in part due to his athleticism. 
On Saturday, the No. 1s were senior R.C. Kilgore and sophomores T.J. Lally and Charles Elmore. The No. 2s were Brown, redshirt freshman Tom Peitz and true freshman Jesse Bobbit.

Meanwhile, sophomore Drew Kreutzfeldt and juco transfer Melvin Tavares were the second group at safety, although Nick Mears remains in that mix, as well. And senior Austin Knowlton, a juco transfer last season, seems to be the lead candidate to be the fourth CB.

The only defensive starters that have yet to earn silver practice jerseys: DT Bryan Burke and safety Jake Gentile. Reserves Kreutzfeldt and Jimmie Forsythe have silver status, too.

Bobbit will play as a true freshman, while the redshirt talk is being revisited with defensive tackle Cole Langer. After the scrimmage, Stiegelmeier said it was better than 50-50 that the former Dell Rapids standout would play this season, pending continued conversations.
"He’s done a tremendous job in so many ways," Stiegelmeier said. "You play to win now, you play to get in the playoffs now and if he’s one of our top four tackles …"
The last defensive lineman to play as a true frosh: DE Danny Batten, a 2010 NFL Draft pick. Like Batten, Langer is No. 54.

The coach’s final thoughts on camp?
"It seemed longer, really. Our guys worked really hard. We did a nice job as a team and a staff of not beating ourselves up so really all we need to heal up are tired legs for the most part."

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Camp Chronicles: Aug. 23

The latest news and notes from South Dakota State football:

The Jackrabbits will hold their second and final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday night. However, it’s pretty likely a fair number of starters won’t play in order to stay healthy and to get extra reps for developing guys. That’s one reason the first scrimmage was described as sloppy by coach John Stiegelmeier.

On Wednesday, SDSU began implementing with half the team ideas for the season opener against Butler. Today, the scout team will make its debut and depth charts will become more relevant. 
The true freshman making the most serious push to play: linebacker Jesse Bobbitt. It’s about a 95-percent certainty.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder from Palatine, Ill., was a four-time all-conference pick in high school and a first-team all-state player as a senior. Remind you of anybody else on the roster? T.J. Lally was also a first-team all-state linebacker in Illinois and gained consideration to play as a true frosh. But the staff held off, and as a redshirt freshman Lally made 107 tackles and was up for the Jerry Rice Award.

The Jacks are losing a linebacker, too: Junior Robbie Jelsma is hanging up his cleats, according to defensive coordinator Clint Brown. Injuries were a big part of that.
He suffered a season-ending knee injury last year and dinged it again this fall during practice, precipitating a slide down the depth chart. Still, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder from Springfield - who began his career at USD – would have been a regular on special teams. He made 14 tackles in nine games last season after making nine stops in 10 games as a redshirt freshman.
Jelsma is expected to remain in school.  

The winner of the annual burger eating contest (fastest to five wins): Freshman tight end Stacy Keely. Unofficially, it’s one of the bigger upsets in the history of the event as Keely is arguably the skinniest guy on the team at 6-8, 205 pounds. He’s also a two-time Nebraska state champ in the high jump.

With Eric Kline transferring to Minnesota-Duluth (and competing to start there), redshirt freshman Nate Meyer looks to be the back-up quarterback to junior Austin Sumner. The 6-3, 205-pounder drew positive reviews last year for his work with the scout team. As for where he’s at this year?
"Nate anticipates things very well for a young guy," offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness said. "The arm strength he has is solid, and it’s just understanding the whole grasp of the offense and being able to open the playbook up and running what he’s capable of running when he’s in there."
To that end, there would be some plays for Meyer - and probable No. 3 Tyler Finnes - that the team would not run with Sumner. 

Stiegelmeier is as pleased with the kickers and punter as any group in camp. Justin Syrovatka is coming off an all-conference type season yet is getting pushed by Jay Carlson for kicking and kick-off duties, while Ethan Sawyer has taken a step forward heading into his second season as a starter.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

SDSU video coordinator Matt Holland has landed a spot with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

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