Jacks take winning streak to ISU
Kickoff is slated for 3:05 p.m. Eastern Time (2:05 p.m. Central) at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Ind.
After an 0-4 start, the Jackrabbits enter the Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup with a 3-4 overall record, including a 3-2 mark in league play. SDSU continued its winning ways with a 30-20 Hobo Day victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 23.
One of the MVFC's surprise teams, Indiana State has turned in a 4-3 overall record thus far in 2010, including a 2-2 record in conference games. The Sycamores dropped a 27-15 decision at North Dakota State last weekend, but remain undefeated at home with a 4-0 record.
THE SERIES: Saturday's matchup marks only the third meeting in football between SDSU and Indiana State, a series that began when the Jackrabbits joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008.
SDSU put up big numbers in the second half of each of the two previous meetings.
In the inaugural meeting between the two teams, on Oct. 25, 2008, in Terre Haute, Ryan Berry threw for four second-half touchdowns en route to a 49-9 Jackrabbit victory. SDSU led 16-0 at the half after two Kyle Minett rushing touchdowns and a safety.
The Jackrabbit defense pitched a shutout in the rematch as SDSU recorded a 41-0
victory in the annual Beef Bowl game at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium on Sept. 19, 2009. Tyler Duffy blocked a punt late in the first half to set up SDSU's first touchdown of the game. The Jackrabbits led 10-0 at half before rolling up 31 second-half points.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of Saturday's game is scheduled to be available via subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio and video streaming of select games are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage. An audio-only subscription also is available for $4.95 per month, with programming consisting only of live radio broadcasts.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins on flagship station WNAX 570 AM at 12:30 p.m. Central Time, with an expanded pre-game show. Steve Imming returns to call the play-by-play, with Tyler Merriam providing color commentary. The game also can be heard on the following Jackrabbit Sports Network stations, starting at 1:30 p.m. CT:
• Belle Fourche: KBFS 1450 AM • Brookings: KJJQ 910 AM
• Mobridge: KOLY 1300 AM • Pierre: KGFX 1060 AM
• Rapid City: KRKI 99.5 FM • Watertown: KWAT 950 AM
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2010 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 10:30 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based KTTW FOX 7. The show is also broadcast on FOX Sports North at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and on FOX College Sports Central at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
SLOW STARTS: South Dakota State's 0-4 start to the 2010 campaign marked the first time since 1969 the Jackrabbits had gone winless through their first four games.
After starting both the 2006 and 2007 seasons with 0-3 records, SDSU rebounded to contend for conference titles. The 2006 squad reeled off seven consecutive victories after an 0-3 start to set up a showdown with North Dakota State for the Great West Football Conference championship - a game the Bison eventually won 41-28 at the Fargodome.
In 2007, the Jackrabbits won six of their final seven games, including their final five contests, to claim the GWFC title. SDSU defeated previously unbeaten North Dakota State, 29-24, in the season finale to win their first league title in football in 44 years.
SLOW STARTS, PART II: The Jackrabbits put an end to their first-quarter scoring struggles as they scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the Oct. 23 game against Youngstown State for their first points in the opening quarter this season.
Through the first seven games, SDSU has been outscored 77-38 in the first half, including a 33-7 margin in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits hold a 90-73 scoring advantage in the second half of games.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The South Dakota State University football team has enjoyed a home-field advantage at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium since making the move to the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Since joining the FCS ranks at the start of the 2004 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 27-8 mark at CAS, including a 9-2 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Lights were installed at CAS prior to the 2001 season and SDSU has turned in a 21-6 record in home night games.
Overall, SDSU has compiled a 160-99 record in 49 seasons at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
ATTENDANCE STREAK: South Dakota State has enjoyed playing in front of capacity crowds at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in recent years.
Since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2004, 21 of 35 home games have drawn a crowd of at least 10,000, including each of the last eight. A Jackrabbit-record 16,345 fans attended the SDSU-North Dakota State matchup on Nov. 17, 2007, a game the Jackrabbits won to claim the Great West Football Conference title.
During the 2009 season, SDSU ranked 17th among FCS programs with an average home attendance of 13,265 fans per home game. Overall, home attendance since the start of the 2004 season has been 358,080 - an average of 10,231 fans per game.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four senior captains:
• Cole Brodie, defensive back, Dacula, Ga.;
• Conrad Kjerstad, defensive back, Wall;
• Ryan McKnight, offensive lineman, Sioux Falls;
• Kyle Minett, running back, Ruthton, Minn.
RABBITS RANKED: For the fourth year in a row, South Dakota State appeared in the preseason national rankings for the Football Championship Subdivision, checking in at No. 9 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com media poll and 10th in the FCS Coaches' poll.
Following back-to-back losses to start the season, the Jackrabbits fell out of the top 25, but remain among the teams receiving votes in both polls.
The Jackrabbits began the 2009 season ranked 22nd in the Sports Network poll and 23rd in the preseason poll conducted by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches. SDSU climbed to as high as ninth in the national rankings before finishing the season 11th in both the media and coaches' polls.
In 2008, SDSU opened the season 19th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches' poll. When opening the 2007 season, the rankings were reversed as SDSU was 19th in the coaches' poll and 20th in the Sports Network rankings.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: Playing a ranked opponent is nothing new for the Jackrabbit football team, which has taken on some of the nation's elite Football Championship Subdivision programs since moving up from Division I at the start of the 2004 season.
In its first six-plus seasons at the FCS level, SDSU has played 33 games against ranked FCS opponents and compiled an 11-22 overall record.
VALLEY PREVIEW: The Jackrabbits were picked to finish in second place in the 2010 Missouri Valley Football Conference race, according to a poll conducted by league coaches, sports information directors and media that was released in early August.
SDSU finished the 2009 season as league runner-up with a 7-1 conference record and 8-4 overall mark. SDSU made its first postseason appearance in 30 years and first as a member of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, falling to top-seeded Montana in the opening round.
Defending champion Southern Illinois was picked to repeat, gaining 30 of the 36 first-place votes to tally 313 points. SDSU was next with 252 points, including a pair of first-place votes, followed by Illinois State with 249 points and three first-place votes.
The middle third of the preseason poll consisted of Northern Iowa, fourth with 244 points and one first-place vote; Missouri State, fifth with 164 points, and North Dakota State, sixth with 151 points.
Youngstown State (130), Western Illinois (70) and Indiana State (47) rounded out the poll.
In addition, five Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team. On offense, senior center Ryan McKnight and senior running back Kyle Minett were recognized.
A first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in 2009, McKnight started all 12 games for the Jackrabbits' playoff-qualifying squad and was an integral part of an offense that averaged 27.8 points and 341.2 yards of total offense per game. Last week, the Sioux Falls native was named to the Sports Network Preseason All-America First Team.
Minett, a native of Ruthton, Minn., has been named to the Walter Payton Award watch list for the top offensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, as well as to the Sports Network Preseason All-America Third Team. Minett enters his senior season third among returning FCS backs and fourth on the SDSU career charts with 3,069 career rushing yards. A two-time second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, he has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, rushing for 1,304 yards and 16 TDs last season, when he was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team.
The defensive unit included senior linebacker Derek Domino and senior strong safety Conrad Kjerstad.
Domino posted a team-high 100 tackles in 2009, earning first-team all-MVFC honors. The Spring Lake Park, Minn., native also shared the team lead with five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Kjerstad ranked third on the team with 81 tackles and shared team-high honors with five interceptions, but has since suffered a career-ending injury.
SDSU also was represented on special teams as senior punter Dean Priddy was named to the MVFC Preseason Team. An Eden Prairie, Minn., native, Priddy averaged a career-best 41.2 yards per punt in earning second-team all-MVFC honors. Priddy landed 19 of his 60 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and notched eight punts of 50 yards or more.
Senior tight end Colin Cochart recevied honorable mention recognition. The team's top returning receiver, the Kewaunee, Wis., product led the team with five touchdown catches last season, while adding 26 receptions for 240 yards.
WORKING OVERTIME: Since overtime rules were implemented in college football in 1996, the Jackrabbits have played five overtime games. SDSU won its first-ever overtime contest, a 30-27, double-overtime decision on Hobo Day against Nebraska-Omaha, but has lost its last four extended games.
Following is a history of SDSU's overtime games:
• Oct. 17, 1998 vs. Nebraska-Omaha W, 30-27 2 OT [Hobo Day]
• Oct. 19, 2002, at Augustana (S.D.) L, 33-39 3 OT
• Nov. 13, 2004, at Southern Utah L, 17-23 2 OT
• Aug. 30, 2007, at Western Illinois L, 26-39 4 OT
• Oct. 4, 2008, vs. McNeese State (La.) L, 44-46 3 OT [Hobo Day]
SCOUTING INDIANA STATE: Indiana State has been a surprise team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this season and finds itself in the middle of a hotly contested league race.
The Sycamores, who won a grand total of two games from 2005-2009, have doubled that output this season with a perfect 4-0 record at home.
Offensively, ISU has been bolstered by the addition of junior quarterback Ronnie Fouch. A transfer from the University of Washington, where he started eight games as a freshman, Fouch has thrown for 1,478 yards with 13 touchdowns against only three interceptions.
The receiving corps is led by junior college transfer Justin Hilton, who is averaging 16.6 yards per reception after tallying 29 catches for 480 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant Kent has added 26 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns, with Alex Jones contributing 15 catches for 271 yards and a pair of scores. In all, 14 different Sycamore players have caught a pass this season.
ISU features a running back tandem who have combined for more than 1,100 yards so far this season. Darrius Gates has totaled 601 yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns, with Shakir Bell adding 551 yards - 7.7 yards per carry - with two touchdowns.
Indiana State ranks third in the MVFC for total defense, allowing an average of 352.4 yards per game.
Up front, the Sycamores are led by defensive end Ben Obaseki, who has been credited with eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Opposite Obaseki, Jacolby Washington has 46 tackles, including 6.5 TFLs and two sacks, to his credit. At defensive tackle, Rod Hardy has tallied three sacks and Nate Brown has posted a pair of sacks.
The squad's starting linebackers are three of their top four tacklers. Aaron Archie leads the team with 54 stops through seven games, while Ryan Roberts, a converted quarterback, has made 45 tackles, 7.5 of which have been for loss. Santino Davis, who doubles as the team's punter, has made 44 tackles this season.
Safeties Larry King and Alex Sewall lead the ISU secondary with 41 tackles and an interception each. Sewall also is averaging 14 yards per punt return. Calvin Burnett leads the team with two interceptions.
Kicker Cory Little has made 5-of-7 field goals, including a 32-yarder in overtime to defeat Missouri State on Oct. 16.
LAST MEETING: The South Dakota State defense held an opponent without a touchdown for the second consecutive game, holding Indiana State to 90 yards of total offense, as the 18th-ranked Jackrabbits opened Missouri Valley Football Conference play with a 41-0 victory Sept. 19, 2009, in the 43rd Annual Beef Bowl.
SDSU improved to 2-0 overall. Indiana State dropped to 0-4 as its losing streak reached 30 games. The game was played before a crowd of 13,945 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
As they did in their season opener against Georgia Southern, the Jackrabbits failed to finish drives in the first half. After going three-and-out on its first two possessions, SDSU cracked the scoring column with 37 seconds remaining in the first half on a 26-yard field goal by Kyle Harris.
Harris missed on field goal attempts of 44 and 32 yards on the first two drives of the second quarter, and it appeared the Jackrabbits' 3-0 lead would stand at halftime until Tyler Duffy broke through the Indiana State line to block a punt.
SDSU took over at the Sycamore 14-yard line with 1 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the half and scored two plays later as Mike Steffen made a leaping one-handed catch on a pass from Ryan Crawford in the right corner of the end zone. The 14-yard scoring play was Steffen's team-leading third touchdown reception of the season.
The Jackrabbit offense found its stride in the second half, scoring on five of its six
possessions. Kyle Minett capped a five-play, 39-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Harris kicked a 22-yard field goal to make the score 20-0, followed by a 10-yard touchdown run by Duffy on the next Jackrabbit possession.
SDSU tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Minett scored on a 3-yard pass from Crawford midway through the quarter and senior running back Jordan Paula found the end zone for the first time in his career with a 6-yard run on the final Jackrabbit possession of the game.
Crawford, who was named the Outstanding Player of the Beef Bowl, completed 21-of-27 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Glen Fox led the receiving corps with seven catches for 67 yards, while Steffen added five receptions for 89 yards.
Minett gained 95 yards on 18 carries.
Defensively, SDSU limited Indiana State to five first downs for the entire game. The Jackrabbits did not allow a first down by rushing, tying a school record set against Hamline (Minn.) in 1975.
The Sycamores netted 25 yards on the ground and 65 through the air. Darrius Gates tallied 20 yards on seven carries, while Travis Johnson completed 11-of-25 attempts for 65 yards. Michael Mardis tallied four catches for 21 yards.
The Jackrabbit defense was led by Chris Johnson and Danny Batten, each with seven tackles. Donye McCleskey made a game-high 15 stops for Indiana State, followed by 12 tackles by C.J. Cook.
LAST WEEK: Walter Payton Award candidate Kyle Minett ran for a season-high 185 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Thomas O'Brien threw for two scores to lift South Dakota State to a 30-20 victory over Youngstown State (Ohio) in the 97th Hobo Day game Oct. 23 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits, who extended their winning streak to three games, improved to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. YSU dropped its fourth consecutive game, falling to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the MVFC.
Each team scored on its opening drive. The Jackrabbits took the opening kickoff and marched 68 yards on seven plays, including a 33-yard screen pass from O'Brien to Minett, before Minett scored from a yard out. The touchdown marked the first time SDSU had scored in the first quarter all season.
Youngstown State answered with a 34-yard field goal by Stephen Blose with 10 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The Penguins took their only lead of the game near the end of the first quarter as Kurt Hess connected with Dominique Barnes on a 33-yard touchdown. The extra-point attempt, however, was blocked by Andy Mink, keeping the score at 9-7.
SDSU took advantage of the lone turnover of the game to regain the lead with just under five minutes to play in the first half on a career-best 43-yard field goal by Peter Reifenrath. O'Brien hooked up with Aaron Rollin for 39 yards on third-and-14 to keep the drive alive.
The Jackrabbits continued to make big plays offensively as they extended their lead to 17-9 in the closing minutes of the half. O'Brien hit Brandon Hubert across the middle for 53 yards, then found Colin Cochart for a 9-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
YSU kept within striking distance as Blose kicked a 19-yard field on the Penguins' opening possession of the second half, but Reifenrath booted a 42-yarder of his own as the Jackrabbits maintained an eight-point lead at 20-12.
Late in the third quarter, Minett broke off a season-long 62-yard run that set up Reifenrath's third field goal of the day, a 25-yarder, on the second play of the fourth quarter.
SDSU put the game out of reach on its next possession, putting together an eight-play, 87-yard drive. After dropping what would have been a touchdown on the previous possession, Aaron Rollin caught a pass from O'Brien on a slant and scored from 41 yards out for his second touchdown in as many games.
The Penguins countered with a nine-play, 84-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hess to Ely Ducatel. Hess later ran in the two-point conversion, but SDSU recovered the ensuing onside kick to end YSU's hopes of a comeback.
The Jackrabbits racked up a season-high 492 yards of total offense, registering seven plays of 20 or more yards in the contest. Minett's 185 yards came on 26 carries, while adding three receptions for 51 yards.
O'Brien finished the game 14-of-25 passing for 283 yards. Rollin set career highs with five catches for 127 yards, while Tyrel Kool added four receptions for 43 yards.
Hess completed 26-of-46 passes for 263 yards for YSU. Barnes tallied 10 catches for 110 yards, with Jamaine Cook tallying 78 yards on 18 carries and another 31 yards on six receptions.
Corey Jeske led a swarming Jackrabbit defense with 11 tackles. Mike Lien added nine stops and recovered the second-quarter fumble.
John Sasson and Donald D'Alesio each were credited with 10 tackles to lead Youngstown State.
MINETT ON PAYTON LIST: South Dakota State University running back Kyle Minett remains one of 20 players on the official watch list for the 2010 Walter Payton Award, which is awarded to the top offensive player in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
A native of Ruthton, Minn., Minett is currently ranked second among active FCS backs with 3,942 career rushing yards - a total that also ranks second on the SDSU career charts. In addition, Minett stands second in career rushing touchdowns among active FCS players with 41, second in total touchdowns with 48 and fourth in total points with 292 (48 TDs, 2 two-point conversions).
A two-time second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, he has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, rushing for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008 and 1,304 yards and 16 TDs last season. With 873 yards this season, Minett enters Saturday's game at Indiana State only 127 yards away from becoming the first player in SDSU football history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He currently ranks seventh in FCS rushing in 2010 with an average of 124.7 yards per game.
In addition, Minett has 101 career receptions for 873 yards and seven scores.
Minett, who was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team in 2009, is the first SDSU football player to be nominated for the Walter Payton Award, which is sponsored by Fathead.com and presented by The Sports Network. The Walter Payton Award watch list will again be updated on Oct. 25, with ballots sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation Jan. 6 - the night before the FCS national championship game - in Frisco, Texas.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Three seniors on the South Dakota State University football team have been named to preseason All-America teams.
Center Ryan McKnight was named to the first team of preseason All-America squads selected by The Sports Network and College Sporting News. The 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior from Sioux Falls, was a first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in 2009 after starting all 12 games for the Jackrabbits' playoff-qualifying squad and was an integral part of an offense that averaged 27.8 points and 341.2 yards of offense per game.
Linebacker Derek Domino earned second-team recognition on the CSN squad. A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino also earned first-team all-MVFC recognition in 2009 after leading the squad with 100 tackles and sharing the team lead with five interceptions. Domino returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns.
Running back Kyle Minett was tabbed as a third-team selection by both The Sports Network and College Sporting News. In 2009, Minett was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team.
O-LINE SHAKEUP: The Jackrabbits shifted a couple players around on the offensive line in the Sept. 25 game against Nebraska - a move that produced some positive results.
Starting center Ryan McKnight moved to left guard in place of Jacob Ludemann and sophomore Will Castle made his first career start as he took over the center duties. The changes contributed to the Jackrabbits rushing for a season-high 141 yards, a total that was surpassed with 155 yards the following week at Northern Iowa.
McKnight shifted back to center two weeks agao against Western Illinois, with redshirt Alex Parker earning his first career start at left guard. SDSU has increased its rushing output each week this season, tallying 209 yards last week at Southern Illinois.
In addition, SDSU has not allowed a sack in the last four games, covering a combined 113 pass attempts. For the season, the Jackrabbits have given up only three sacks.
OH, DOMINO: Senior linebacker Derek Domino has picked up where he left off a season ago, when he emerged as the team's top tackler.
A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino has tallied a team-high 65 tackles so far this season, including a career-high 16 stops Sept. 25 at Nebraska. Domino had his string of five consecutive games with double digits for tackles, dating back to the 2009 season, end in the Oct. 9 game against Western Illinois, when he notched seven stops. In 2009, Domino led the team with 100 tackles as he registered 12 tackles in a game three times, including SDSU's playoff game at Montana.
In addition, Domino upped his career interception total to nine in the game at Nebraska. Last season, Domino shared the team lead with five interceptions, including one he returned for a 22-yard touchdown at Minnesota. He also picked off two passes Oct. 17 against North Dakota State, returning his first interception of the game 16 yards for a touchdown.
During the 2008 campaign, Domino returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown in the Hobo Day game against McNeese State (La.). His three career interception returns for touchdowns are tied for the most among all active FCS players.
REIFENRATH RETURNS: Senior kicker Peter Reifenrath was honored as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in the Jackrabbits' 30-20 Hobo Day victory over Youngstown State (Ohio) on Oct. 23.
A senior from Decorah, Iowa, Reifenrath was 3-for-4 on field goals and made all three extra-point attempts as the Jackrabbits won their third consecutive league game. His first made field goal of the day was a career-best 43-yarder, followed by field goals of 42 and 25 yards.
Reifenrath upped his career field goal total to 29 in the Youngstown State game, passing Adam Vinatieri (27 field goals from 1991-94) for third place on the SDSU career charts.
Reifenrath made his season debut in the Oct. 16 game at Southern Illinois and responded by making all five kicks he attempted. A Decorah, Iowa native, he entered the game in the second quarter in place of Kyle Harris, who missed a 33-yard field goal attempt on the Jackrabbits' opening possession of the game. Reifenrath made all four point-after attempts and added a 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
In 2008, Reifenrath earned second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors after making 16-of-22 field goal attempts. He shared placekicking duties with Harris last season, going 9-of-12 with a long of 34.
PRIDDY PUNTING: Jackrabbit punter Dean Priddy put together a strong performance in the opening game of the season at Delaware. A senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., Priddy punted four times for an average of 55 yards, with a net punting average of 53.2 yards. His punts traveled 44, 72, 53 and 51 yards, with the 72-yarder a career long that pinned Delaware inside its own 5-yard line late in the first half.
For his efforts, Priddy received co-Punter of the Week recognition from College Football Performance Awards, sharing the honor with Mike Hammonds of Chattanooga (Tenn.).
In 32 attempts this season, Priddy ranks 18th among FCS punters with an average of 41.7 yards per punt and has landed 12 attempts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Combined with outstanding coverage downfield, Priddy's punting has shut down the opposing return game as his net punting average is 38.44 yards - fifth in the FCS ranks - with the opponents tallying a mere 44 yards on 13 returns (3.4-yard average).
O'BRIEN UNDER CENTER: Sophomore quarterback crossed the 2,500-yard mark for his career in the Oct. 16 victory at Southern Illinois. In 132 career starts, O'Brien has compiled a 7-6 record, including a perfect 6-0 mark in starts in which he has not thrown an interception.
O'Brien started six games during the 2009 season, including the Jackrabbits' FCS playoff game at Montana, and compiled a 4-2 record.
A converted running back, Kool caught a game-high nine passes for 107 yards in a losing effort in the season opener at Delaware, including a leaping 44-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He became the first Jackrabbit receiver this season to total double figures in receptions, hauling in 10 for 113 yards with his first career touchdown Oct. 2 at Northern Iowa.
Kool continues to lead the team with 39 receptions and 453 receiving yards, heading into Saturday's game. His status for Saturday's game is in question after leaving the Oct. 23 game versus Youngstown State due to injury.
The Yankton native third on the team in rushing in 2009 with 96 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught one pass for seven yards during his freshman season.
KJERSTAD NOMINATED FOR CAMPBELL TROPHY: South Dakota State University defensive back Conrad Kjerstad has been selected as a semifinalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded to a top football scholar-athlete by the National Football Foundation.
Nominated by their schools, semifinalists must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The trophy - formerly the Draddy Trophy - was renamed last fall in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal.
A senior from Wall, Kjerstad was selected as a team captain this fall but has been sidelined for the entire 2010 season due to a degenerative neck condition that worsened over the summer. In his first three seasons in a Jackrabbit uniform, Kjerstad tallied 158 career tackles and 10 career interceptions. In 2009, he shared the team lead with five interceptions and ranked third on the squad with 81 tackles in helping lead the Jackrabbits to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time.
Off the field, Kjerstad has compiled a 3.93 grade-point average while majoring in agricultural business. He was honored on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Second Team and the FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star Team in 2009. In addition, Kjerstad has been a part of numerous community service projects with his teammates, including hospital visits, reading in schools and helping conduct youth football clinics.
The NFF Awards Committee will select up to 15 finalists out of 121 semifinalists and announce the results via national press release on Thursday, Oct. 28. Each finalist will be recognized as part of the 2010 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Campbell Trophy winner, who will have his scholarship increased to $25,000 and receive a 25-pound bronze trophy, will be announced live at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 7 at the prestigious Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. A total distribution of $277,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening, bringing the NFF's all-time scholarship distribution to $9.5 million.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner and a program on the rise in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to an 86-64 record (.573 winning percentage). SDSU has posted eight consecutive winning seasons, including the school's first six campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 11 of Stiegelmeier's 13 years as head coach, including six with seven or more victories.
The 2009 season proved to be a memorable one as Stiegelmeier led the Jackrabbits to their first FCS playoff appearance and the program's first postseason appearance in 30 years. The Jackrabbits finished as runner-up in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 7-1 record and finished the season 8-4 overall. SDSU led for much of its playoff game at top-seeded Montana, before falling 61-48 to the eventual national runner-up Grizzlies. Nationally ranked for the entire season, including appearing in the top 10 for two weeks, the Jackrabbits finished the 2009 campaign ranked 11th in both the FCS Coaches' and Sports Network media polls.
THE JACKRABBIT JOURNEY: Former South Dakota State University football player Casey Hillman successfully completed "The Jackrabbit Journey," a walk across South Dakota to raise money and awareness for the Jackrabbit Athletic Endowment.
A Sioux Falls resident, Hillman began his journey through the Rushmore State in Deadwood on Sept. 4. During his journey logged more than 400 miles on foot before ending his journey Sept. 18 by walking into Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and presenting the game ball for the opening kickoff of the Jackrabbit football team's home opener against Illinois State.
Hillman lettered as a cornerback for the Jackrabbits from 1998-2001. He was a second-team all-North Central Conference selection in 1999, when he led the team with six interceptions.
Donations are still being accepted online through the SDSU Foundation, or by calling (605) 688-6942. Funds should be designated for Athletics/Jackrabbit Club with "The Jackrabbit Journey" included in the comments section.
ACADEMIC SUCCESS: The SDSU football team continued to gain conference and national recognition for its academic pursuits during the 2009 season.
Headlining the individual award winners were juniors Kyle Minett and Conrad Kjerstad, who received recognition on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team within the University Division.
A running back from Ruthton, Minn., Minett was honored on the first team for the
second consecutive year with a 3.60 grade-point average while majoring in economics.
Kjerstad, a safety from Wall, earned second-team honors with a 3.93 GPA in agricultural business. He later was named to the 12th annual Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team.
Minett and Kjerstad were joined on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team by senior offensive lineman Casey Knips and punter Dean Priddy.
After leading the Missouri Valley Football Conference in team grade-point average during the 2008 season, the Jackrabbits posted a league-best 10 selections, including three first-team honorees, on the 2009 MVFC All-Academic Team, which was announced in December. It marked the fifth consecutive season SDSU led its football conference in all-academic picks.
The league also recognized 52 Jackrabbit players following the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year on the MVFC Honor Roll for posting a GPA of 3.0 or better while being enrolled in at least 12 hours during the fall. Of those 52 players, 25 qualified for the Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award, which requires a minimum 3.2 GPA for each of the previous two semesters.
In addition, Tyler Duffy, Knips and Priddy received the Presidents Council Academic Award, which requires a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA and within 18 hours of graduation.
NEXT WEEK: The Jackrabbits return home for a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup Nov. 6 against Missouri State.
Kickoff for the annual Hall of Fame Game is slated for 1 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium on the SDSU campus.
The 2010 Hall of Fame class of Kristi (Asp) Schoffman, Steve Brown, Jennifer (Johnson) Kornbaum and Mark Tetzlaff will be introduced at halftime.