Jackrabbits return home for Beef Bowl
The nationally ranked South Dakota State University football team will be in search of its first 3-0 start since 2009 when it takes to the field against Southeastern Louisiana in the 47th Annual Beef Bowl.
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The Beef Bowl barbecue runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. south of the stadium and a youth football clinic is scheduled from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on the practice fields east of the stadium.
The Jackrabbits, who are ranked sixth in both the Sports Network media and FCS Coaches polls, are coming off a 35-28 victory Sept. 7 at North Dakota.
Southeastern Louisiana, which is receiving votes in the media poll, is 1-1 so far in 2013. The Lions recorded a 45-7home victory over Southeast Missouri in their season opener Aug. 29, before dropping a 38-17 decision at Texas Christian last week
In addition to Saturday’s game being the Beef Bowl, the Jackrabbit football team is raising awareness for Samaritan’s Feet. The non-profit organization provides shoes for deserving children both locally and around the world.
Head coach John Stiegelmeier will go through team warmups in bare feet this evening and Jackrabbit football players will wear orange wrist bands to help raise awareness.
QUICK HITS: Four quick notes on the Jackrabbits:
• South Dakota State has won eight home games in a row dating back to the 2011 season; the Jackrabbits' last loss at Coughlin-Alumni Stadiumwas a 38-14 setback to national champion North Dakota State on Oct. 22, 2011
• The Jackrabbits have scored in all eight quarters so far this season
• SDSU is plus-6 in turnover margin this season, forcing a fumble and five interceptions; the Jackrabbits have yet to turn the ball over
• The Jackrabbits' five interceptions have come from five different players
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the second meeting on the gridiron between South Dakota State and Southeastern Louisiana.
In the first meeting, Sept. 8, 2012, in Hammond, La., Zach Zenner rushed for 278 yards and the Jackrabbit defense turned in a dominant performance en route to a 31-14 victory.
VERSUS THE SOUTHLAND: South Dakota State has fared well against Southland Conference opponents, compiling an 8-2 all-time record against the league. The Jackrabbits put together a seven-game winning streak against Southland foes until a 46-44, triple-overtime loss to McNeese State (La.) in 2008.
BEEF BOWL HISTORY: South Dakota State University is home to the original Beef Bowl.
The Beef Bowl was started as SDSU’s way of recognizing those individuals and firms involved in the beef industry in South Dakota, which provides more than a $3 billion annual economic impact to the state.
Besides the pre-game barbecue, festitivites include the presentation of the SDSU Friend of the Beef Industry Award and proceeds from a live steer auction at halftime benefits Jackrabbit Athletics.
Outside of Hobo Day, SDSU’s annual homecoming celebration, the Beef Bowl usually ranks second for home game attendance. More than 10,000 people have attended each of the last eight Beef Bowls and 11 times overall.
The Jackrabbits have compiled a 26-20 record in the Beef Bowl.
ACADEMIC AWARD: The South Dakota State football team will be presented with the Missouri Valley Football Conference Team Academic Award during Saturday’s game. The Jackrabbits, who compiled a 3.02 team grade-point average during the 2012-13 academic year, have received the MVFC Team Academic Award each of the five seasons they have competed in the conference.
ONLINE COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of Saturday’s game is scheduled to be available via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio and video streaming are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage. A pay-per-view option also is available for $7.95.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at 5 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network. Tyler Merriam will call the play-by-play, with former Jackrabbit player Mike Struck providing color commentary and Scotty Kwas providing sideline updates. Yankton-based WNAX 570 AM will again serve as the flagship station of the Jackrabbit Sports Network, which includes the following
• KJJQ 910 AM-Brookings
• KBFS 1450 AM-Belle Fourche
• KJOE 106.1 FM-Pipestone, Minn.
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KDSJ 980 AM-Deadwood
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four captains:
• Brandon Hubert, Sr., wide receiver, Gretna, Neb.
• Austin Sumner, Jr., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Sr., defensive back, Lee’s Summit, Mo.;
• Zach Zenner, Jr., running back, Eagan, Minn.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition last season by naming non-senior players as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class. Sumner and Wright are two-year captains.
RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University football team entered the 2013 season with its highest national ranking as a member of the Football Championship Subdivison by holding down the sixth spot in The Sports Network Preseason Top 25.
SDSU, coached by John Stiegelmeier, also was ranked seventh in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll. The Jackrabbits also were ranked fourth by Lindy’s College Football, ninth by College Sporting News and 10th by Athlon College Football.
Following their victory last week at North Dakota, the Jackrabbits remain sixth in the Sports Network poll but moved up one spot to sixth in this week’s FCS Coaches poll.
The Jackrabbits return 15 starters to a squad that advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs. SDSU’s previous high national ranking in either of the most-recognized polls was a ninth-place showing in 2010 preseason polls by both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches, following the Jackrabbits’ inaugural berth in the FCS playoffs in 2009.
Two-time defending national champion and Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State held on to the top spot in both polls this week.
VALLEY PREVIEW: South Dakota State has been picked to finish second in the 2013 Missouri Valley Football Conference race, according to a preseason poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors that was released in late July.
The Jackrabbits, who placed second in the league last season with a 6-2 record en route to a 9-4 overall mark and berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, tallied 323 points in the poll. Defending league champion and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State was a unanimous first-place selection, garnering all 39 first-place votes for 390 points. Northern Iowa (269), Illinois State (264) and Youngstown State (253) rounded out the upper half of the 10-team league.
Completing the poll were Indiana State (197), Southern Illinois (188), Missouri State (123), Western Illinois (77) and South Dakota (61).
Although the voters all agreed that NDSU is their top choice, there was a wide variance for the league's other nine teams, as seven teams were picked to finish in five or more different positions.
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 15 times (in 27 previous polls). North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season.
In addition, four Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team.
Headlining South Dakota State's four selections to the preseason all-league team were returning first-team honorees Bryan Witzmann and Zach Zenner. A senior offensive tackle, Witzmann has started all 35 of the Jackrabbits' games over the last three seasons. Zenner, meanwhile, set a league single-season record for rushing yards during the 2012 season, totaling an FCS-best 2,044 yards in 13 games.
Joining Witzmann and Zenner on the preseason team were defensive end Doug Peete and linebacker T.J. Lally, who both were second-team all-MVFC selections a year ago. Peete led the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss and shared the team lead with six sacks a season ago. Lally put together a strong redshirt freshman season in 2012, ranking second on the team with 107 tackles and also sharing the team lead with six sacks.
North Dakota State led with 10 selection to the MVFC Preseason Team, including returning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Williams. Northern Iowa was second with six honorees, followed by SDSU and Illinois State.
SCOUTING SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA: After a strong finish to the 2012 season, the Southeastern Louisiana football team has its sights set on a continued rise in the Southland Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision.
After an 0-3 start, the Lions went 5-3 the rest of the way during the 2012 season to provide additional optimism in year two of Ron Roberts’ tenure as head coach.
Leading the Lion offense is junior quarterback Bryan Bennett. A transfer from the University of Oregon, Bennett is a dual threat who has rushed and thrown for more than 100 yards in each of Southeastern’s first two games. Bennett threw for 169 yards and tallied 106 yards on the ground with three touchdowns in the season-opening win over Southeast Missouri. He followed that by throwing and rushing for 132 yards each last week at Texas Christian, throwing and running for a touchdown in an upset bid against the nationally ranked Horned Frogs.
A number of other players have rushing attempts in the Lions spread offense attack. Kody Sutton, who ranks second on the team with 111 yards, gained 84 yards in the season opener versus Southeast Missouri.
The Lions run behind a big offensive line anchored by senior left tackle Gasten Gabriel.
Southeastern has spread the ball around in the passing game as well, as 10 different players have recorded at least one reception. Jeff Smiley and Marquis Frugé lead the team with five receptions each. Smiley has the lone touchdown reception thus far and is averaging 17.2 yards per catch.
The Lion defense has been led in the early going by middle linebacker Drew Misita with 11 tackles through two games. Linebacker Kaleb Muse, the team’s top returning tackler, and John Graves each have 10 tackles so far this season.
Another top returner, Cqulin Hubert has tallied five tackles.
The secondary is anchored by senior cornerback Todd Washington. A season ago, Washington ranked among the Southland Conference leaders in passes defended with 10, breaking up nine passes and intercepting one. Washington has already broken up two passes this season, sharing the team lead with Kevin Harmon as part of 11 pass breakups by the team as a whole.
Washington is joined in the secondary by starting free safety Tyler Stoddard, who has recorded seven tackles.
As a team, Southeastern Louisiana has recorded 11 tackles for loss, including five sacks. The Lions, however, have forced only one turnover so far this season.
On special teams, Xavier Roberson is one of the top kick returners in the Southland Conference. He is averaging 47.5 yards on two kickoff returns so far this season, including a 65-yarder in the season opener against Southeast Missouri.
SUMNER AT THE HELM: Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner is poised to take over the top spot in career passing this season.
A junior from Brandon, Sumner has tallied 5,308 passing yards through two-plus seasons to rank fifth in SDSU history. He has played in 25 career games and made 22 starts, holding a 15-7 record as the team’s top signal-caller. During his first season, he set a Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing en route to being named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award as the top first-year player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Despite playing through injury in 2012, Sumner helped lead the Jackrabbits to an FCS playoff berth with 2,443 passing yards.
Sumner jumped two spots into sixth place on the SDSU career passing charts en route to his seventh career 300-yard passing game in the 2013 season opener against Butler (Ind.). Sumner ended the night 22-of-32 for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner is one of 20 players named to the initial 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List for the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A junior from Eagan, Minn., Zenner is one of 11 finalists from the 2012 season to appear on the official watch list, which was announced in July. A consensus All-America selection last season, Zenner placed seventh in the balloting after joining the watch list a month into the 2012 campaign.
Zenner led the nation in rushing during the 2012 season, racking up 2,044 yards in 13 games for an average of 157.2 yards per contest. He crossed the 100-yard mark in nine games and topped 200 yards three times, including a school-record 295 yards in the opening round of the FCS playoffs Nov. 24 versus Eastern Illinois.
For the season, Zenner averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 28 receptions for 197 yards.
Zenner again leads the nation in rushing with an average of 206 yards per game heading into this weekend. He tallied 117 yards in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler, before tying his own school record with 295 yards — on a career-high 37 carries — Sept. 7 at North Dakota. Zenner was selected as National Offensive Player of the Week by the Sports Network and earned both National Performer of the Week and National Running Back of the Week accolades from College Football Performance Awards. He also was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
The Walter Payton Award will be presented by The Sports Network on Dec. 16.
LALLY LEADS LINEBACKERS: For the second year in a row, the South Dakota State University football team had a player under consideration for the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Linebacker T.J. Lally was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award following a stellar season in which he ranked second on the team with 107 tackles, shared the team lead with six sacks and ranked fourth with eight tackles for loss. Lally started all 13 games at middle linebacker and registered double figures for tackles in five games, including a career-high 11 in a playoff loss at North Dakota State
A member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team in 2012, Lally was one of three league players to be named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award. Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen and Western Illinois linebacker J.J. Raffelson also were considered for the award.
Lally was credited with four tackles in the 2013 season opener versus Butler, then added five in a road win at North Dakota. He also tipped a pass that resulted in a game-ending interception late in the fourth quarter.
SYROVATKA SETS RECORD: South Dakota State kicker Justin Syrovatka will look to add to his Jackrabbit record for consecutive made field goal attempts.
A junior from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka set a new Jackrabbit standard with 14 consecutive made field goals after connecting from 35 and 36 yards in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.). He made his last 12 field goal attempts of the 2012 season and first two attempts of the 2013 campaign.
Starting with a victory over Western Illinois on Oct. 11, 2012, Syrovatka has gone
7-for-7 from 20-29 yards, 3-for-3 on field goals of 30-39 yards and 4-for-4 from 40-plus yards, including a career-long 48-yarder in the Nov. 17, 2012, regular season finale against South Dakota.
Syrovatka’s last miss came on a 32-yard attempt Sept. 29, 2012, versus Missouri State. He ended the season 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) on field goals and is 26-for-34 (76.5 percent) for his career. He also is 67-of-68 on career PATs and is working on a streak of 26 consecutive made.
The previous Jackrabbit record for consecutive made field goal attempts was 13, which was set by Parker Douglass between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
SCHNEIDER STEPS UP: After graduating its top two wide receivers from a year ago, South Dakota State had some question marks as to who would be the go-to players in the passing game. Junior Jason Schneider emerged as an early candidate in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.), recording career highs with 10 receptions and 167 receiving yards, along with two touchdowns.
A native of Andover, Minn., Schneider’s yardage total was the most since Dale Moss racked up 178 yards in a 2011 game at Missouri State. The last Jackrabbit receiver to notch double figures for receptions in a game was Tyrel Kool with 10 in a 2010 contest at Northern Iowa.
Schneider again led Jackrabbit receivers in the Sept. 7 game at North Dakota, recording four receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Three true freshman made their collegiate debuts for the Jackrabbits in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler. Linebacker Jesse Bobbit made three tackles, while defensive lineman Cole Langer was credited with one tackle. Long snapper Thayer Trenhaile also saw action versus Butler.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team has received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright over the past two seasons.
Natives of Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A senior, Winston Wright has started all 26 games at cornerback since the start of the 2011 campaign, earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors in 2011. He led the team with three interceptions to go along with 57 tackles in 2011, followed by a 59-tackle, one-interception season in 2012. He began his collegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a junior wide receiver who has seen most of his action as a kick returner. Last season, he averaged 20.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns and added a 39-yard punt return in limited action.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to a 104-76 record (.578 winning percentage). SDSU has posted seven winning seasons in the school’s nine full seasons at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level, compiling a 61-43 record since moving to the FCS ranks in 2004. Overall, the Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 12 of Stiegelmeier’s 16 full years as head coach, and have a 27-13 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs twice (2009, 2012) under Stiegelmeier’s guidance.
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU’s 43-36 double-overtime victory at Missouri State during the 2011 season ended a four-game losing streak in overtime games for the Jackrabbits.
Overall, SDSU is 2-4 in overtime games, with both home contests played on Hobo Day. The Jackrabbits won their inaugural overtime game, 30-27 in two overtimes against Nebraska-Omaha in the 1998 Hobo Day game, then dropped a 46-44, triple-overtime decision to McNeese State (La.) in the 2008 Hobo Day game.
Following is a complete list of SDSU’s overtime games:
• 1998: SDSU 30, Nebraska-Omaha 27 (2 OT — at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
• 2002: Augustana 39, SDSU 33 (3 OT — at Sioux Falls)
• 2004: Southern Utah 23, SDSU 17 (2 OT — at Cedar City, Utah)
• 2007: Western Illinois 29, SDSU 26 (4 OT — at Macomb, Ill.)
• 2008: McNeese State 46, SDSU 44 (3 OT — at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
• 2011: SDSU 43, Missouri State 36 (2 OT — at Springfield, Mo.)
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2013 football season, head coach John Stiegelmeier will be a guest on the “Jackrabbit Insider,” a weekly behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University athletics.
The half-hour television show which features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based MyUTV. The show is also broadcast on KELO-TV at 11 p.m. Central Sunday and at 10 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday on KDLO-TV. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
STIG SHOW: The John Stiegelmeier Radio Show airs each Monday throughout the 2013 football season.
The show is scheduled to air at 5 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, originating with flagship station WNAX 570 AM in Yankton. In addition, the weekly show also will be streamed online at GoJacks.com as part of the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service.
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show will also feature interviews with Jackrabbit student-athletes and assistant coaches. Jackrabbit fans are encouraged to attend the show in person at Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill, 307 Main Ave., in downtown Brookings.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits travel next Saturday to Lincoln, Neb., to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, with television coverage on the Big Ten Network.