South Dakota State Football Coach John Stiegelmeier Talks Spring Football [AUDIO]
No matter who you talk to these days in South Dakota, just about everyone agrees: this has been a 'spring' to remember. That includes South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier.
Our wet and snowy weather left the Jackrabbits scrambling to get in workouts this spring, with their new indoor practice facility still a year away. In all, SDSU worked out in nearly a half dozen different places this spring, and had to cancel their spring game because of wet conditions at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings.
So how bad was it? ESPN 99.1's Jeff Harkness asked Coach Stiegelmeier:
Besides the weather, the biggest question marks for the Jackrabbits this spring were on the defensive side of the ball, where graduation has taken its toll. Among the losses, linebackers Ross Shafrath (last season's leading tackler) and Andy Mink (4th in tackles), along with defensive back Skyler Luxa (leading in interceptions, 3rd in tackles).
SDSU should be solid up front with defensive ends Doug Peete and Marshall Peugh back. At linebacker, TJ Lalley (107 tackles, 5 sacks) returns after making the Missouri Valley All-Newcomer Team last season, Matt Romano comes in as the Scout Team Player of the Year, while Winston Wright (59 tackles, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 interception) returns in the defensive backfield.
Offensively, SDSU quarterback Austin Summner was limited in spring drills as he recovers from off-season thumb surgery. But Coach Stiegelmeier is expecting big things from his junior signal caller.
Two of Summner's top targets, Aaron Rollin and Tyrel Kool, are gone, leaving more catches for Brandon Hubert, Trevor Tiefenthaler, and Jason Schneider - who each topped double digits in receptions last season.
No body was better running the football in the FCS last season than Zach Zenner. He finished with a nation-best 2,044 yards and rushed for an average of 157 per game. He will benefit once again this season from a veteran offensive line in front of him, and some help from running back Reggie Gandy.
The Jacks are coming off a nine-win season in 2012. A year that saw SDSU win a home Division I playoff game for the first time, before losing to eventual national champ North Dakota State in round two. How does that success carry into this season?
One thing that will change for the Jacks and other FCS programs after the 2015 season, no more games with the Big Ten, who have voted to stop playing FCS teams starting in 2016.
South Dakota State opens the 2013 season at home against Butler, August 31st.