South Dakota State’s John Stiegelmeier on FCS Playoff Win at Northern Arizona, Round Two Match-Up with Eastern Washington
South Dakota State may not have been one of the top eight seeds entering the FCS Playoffs in 2013, but very few of the 16 teams left in the field are playing at a higher level right now.
The Jackrabbits (9-4) polished off Northern Arizona in round one of the post season last Saturday, 26-7 - their fifth straight win - earning a second round match-up with another Big Sky Conference team, #3 seed Eastern Washington (10-2).
Last weekend in Flagstaff, SDSU won both sides of the line of scrimmage - starting on defense - with seven quarterback sacks, while shutting down one of the nation's best runners in Zach Bauman.
Head Coach John Stiegelmeier told me he couldn't have been happier with his team's effort:
Offensively, the SDSU offensive line paved the way for the second straight 300+ yard rushing game for the Jackrabbits, moving running back Zach Zenner into the #1 spot in FCS rushing with 249 yards:
The scene is Cheney, Washington this weekend will be vastly different from the indoor comfort of the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff. Roos Stadium is famous for its' bright red field, which is just another aspect of Saturday's match-up the Jacks will be preparing for:
One thing that will feel very familiar to the SDSU players Saturday is the weather. Temperatures in Eastern Washington are running about 20 degrees below normal this week, with a forecast high at kickoff Saturday of just 10 degrees.
Those are conditions South Dakota State will feel right at home playing in:
The big challenge for SDSU defensively Saturday is trying to slow down Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, who has thrown for 46 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards this season. But the sophomore can beat you with more than just his arm:
Offensively, SDSU will try to run the ball as effectively as they have the last two weeks (655 yards), but will also try to move the ball thru the air against a defense that was next-to-last in the Big Sky this season, allowing 275 passing yards per game. It's a weakness the Jacks are hoping to take advantage of:
For the second straight year, South Dakota State finds themselves preparing for a round two match-up in the FCS Playoffs. Rather than turning the page on last season, the Jacks have been trying to use that experience to propel them farther in the playoffs this year:
Kickoff in Cheney is 3:00pm CST Saturday. The game will be shown nationally on Direct TV channel 793 and DISH Network channel 462.
View the entire FCS Playoff bracket here.