South Dakota State Preview: #4 Jackrabbits Host Drake
It's not a game as much as an opportunity for South Dakota State, Saturday night (September 16) in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits welcome Drake in for the final non-conference game of the 2017 regular season, and frankly should have no problems with a team they beat 56-28 last year, and a team that gave up 77 points to South Dakota two weeks ago.
Winning the game is certainly priority number one for SDSU, but working out some kinks, spreading out playing time, and getting guys healthy heading into a bye week before kicking off the Missouri Valley Conference schedule will be crucial as well.
Drake (1-1) did bounce back from the USD loss with a 55-14 win over Southwestern College last week.
Quarterback Grant Kraemer was 20-of-27 passing for 313 yards in that game, as the Bulldogs try to replace their top running back and receiver from last year's 7-4 team.
Kraemer has a number of young targets to throw to. Ten different receivers caught passes in last week's win, including Mitch McFarlane's seven grabs for 152 yards.
Drake's strength on defense is up front with a trio of All-Pioneer League players back. The secondary has picked off three passes already this season.
Their special teams also had a blocked punt in the win.
In last season's match-up with Drake, South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Chrtistion had one of his best passing games in a Jackrabbit uniform, hitting on 24 of his 28 attempts for four touchdowns, as SDSU scored the first 21 points of the game.
Kickoff is 6:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
Starting offensive lineman Tyler Weir will miss his second straight game with an injury.
Banged up starting defensive lineman Kellen Soulek is questionable for the Drake game.
The Jackrabbits (2-0) won 31-27 at Montana State in week two, thanks to what has been a very successful formula so far in 2017 - a hot start offensively.
SDSU scored the first 17 points of the game in Bozeman and now has five touchdowns and a field goal on their opening six drives of the season.
But it was the play of the special teams that proved to be the difference in this one.
Sophomore place kicker Chase Vinatieri hit a career-long 47-yard field goal in the first half, and then scored his first career touchdown, going 31 yards on a fake field goal in the second half, extending the SDSU lead to ten points. Vinatieri was rewarded with Missouri Valley Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
After the Bobcats scored to make it 31-27, the special teams responded again as Christian Rozeboom blocked the extra point, forcing MSU to go for a touchdown on their final drive, rather than a potential game-tying field goal.
For SDSU, tight end Dallas Goedert paced the offense with 11 catches for 132 yards.
Defensively, Rozeboom led with ten tackles.
I talked with Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier about the Montana State win and the match-up with Drake: