South Dakota State’s John Stiegelmeier on Indiana State Win, South Dakota Match-up
Fresh off their first shutout win in three years, South Dakota State is riding a two-game winning streak into the final two weeks of the regular season, knowing they need another pair of victories to be in the discussion for an FCS playoff berth.
Last Saturday's 29-0 win over Indiana State in Brookings was a combination of defense and special teams play.
On defense, the Jackrabbits held the Sycamores to just 161 yards of total offense, and forced a takeaway for the 10th straight game.
Head Coach John Stiegelmeier told me he and his staff thought the defense played very well against Indiana State:
On special teams, after a shaky few weeks of kicking the football Justin Syrovatka was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, and the Jacks also notched a blocked punt and field goal in the game:
But the success of the field goal unit meant three chances missed by the SDSU offense to put the ball in the end zone, but it wasn't for a lack of moving the football:
The last three weeks have featured a pair of wins sandwiched around a bye week. One big key for the Jackrabbits during that stretch, a lot of key players that had been banged up earlier in the season are now starting to get healthy again:
This week it's the return of the South Dakota Showdown Series, sponsored by South Dakota Corn, as South Dakota State and South Dakota meet for the 107th time in a series that dates back to South Dakota's first year as a state - 1889.
This will be the first time the Jackrabbits and Coyotes have played at the Dakotadome since 2003. SDSU has indoor experience at North Dakota State and Northern Iowa, but things are a bit different in Vermillion:
While the Jacks have won two straight, USD has dropped its last three, but the Coyotes have taken great steps forward on offense this season, switching from Josh Vander Maten to Kevin Earl at quarterback five games into the season:
As the Coyote running game, head coach Joe Glenn told me this week he had no idea who'd be in the backfield Saturday, as starters Trevor Bouma (broken clavacle) and Jordan Roberts are banged up. Coach Stiegelmeier says whoever is back there is more than capable of carrying the ball:
Offensively, the Jacks are preparing to try and control the line of scrimmage, after giving up 25 sacks in league play this year. On the other side of the ball is Tyler Starr, who is one sack away from setting the USD all-time career record. As a unit, the Coyotes have 20 sacks this season. Those numbers are an area of concern for SDSU:
Coming into this weekend, South Dakota State is one of just three (North Dakota State, Youngstown State) Missouri Valley Conference teams to have four losses or fewer overall. That seems to be the maximum number of defeats a team can suffer to even be in consideration for one of the 24 FCS playoff spots, a fact Stiegelmeier has shared with his team:
This is the second meeting between the two rivals since the series resumed after a nine-year hiatus last season. And while some say things might have started to settle in for the fans after that first meeting as members of the Missouri Valley Conference, Stiegelmeier actually thinks things might be turned up a couple of additional notches this time around:
Kickoff in Vermillion is 1:00pm Saturday.