BROOKINGS, S.D. – It’s been a unique start to the season for South Dakota State. Last week the Jackrabbits played only four minutes, five seconds before lightning cancelled their matchup with Iowa State. But the Jackrabbits aren’t too worried about how that is affecting their football season.
“The only thing it really changes is that you don’t have that game to evaluate yourself, to build on, but we do the same thing with practice film. So we are going to focus on Montana State and move ahead,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier.
After thunderstorms surrounded the area, the game was delayed for 30 minutes, and that quickly turned into a couple of hours as the Cyclones and Jackrabbits waited in their locker rooms for the signal to start. But it never came.
“They made the right decision, safety first. And as we were leaving town the weather really got bad, so we were glad the decision was made,” said Stiegelmeier.
But now they have had a lot more preparation time to prepare for their new season opener at home against Montana State. And SDSU has its eyes on Montana State quarterback Troy Andersen.
“He’s a special player, he’s a great runner, surprised us with his ability to throw because it’s not his natural position,” said Steigelmier. “And really what it is, is kind of a hybrid wildcat, with a guy that’s better thrower.”
But the Jackrabbit defense is returning a lot of players, especially first-team Missouri Valley Conference cornerback Jordan Brow, who didn’t play against MSU last year after serving a suspension. Bobcat head coach Jeff Choate said it will be an even taller task to score than last year.
“We’ll have our hands full. Like I said, as good as they were a year ago being a semifinal team, an 11-win team, I think defensively their personnel is better right now than it was a year ago,” Choate said.
But that’s the same story on the other side of the isle. SDSU saw MSU’s improved defense against Western Illinois, especially the Bobcats’ defensive line.
“They got a couple of turnovers, which are huge plays in a football game. They rose up when they needed to,” said Steigelmeier. “But their upfront is really, really good. Their two defensive ends are really special players, so we are going to have our work cut out for us.”
The two players he is referring to are Bryce Sterk and Tyrone Fa’Anono, who combined for 15 tackles, five for a loss, and three sacks. The Cats also proved they can rattle a seasoned quarterback, picking off Western Illinois’s Sean McGuire two times in the first half.
But the challenge is even bigger this week when the Bobcats go up against two-time Walter Payton Award finalist and four-year SDSU starter Taryn Christion. Kickoff between the Cats and the Jackrabbits in Brookings is Saturday at 5 p.m. (MT).