South Dakota State’s John Stiegelmeier on Missouri State Loss, Northern Iowa Match-up
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are still a Top 25 football team according to both FCS coaches and The Sports Network rankings. But the Jacks hardly resembled an elite program in the first half at Missouri State last Saturday, coming put flat, falling behind 20-0 on the strength of a slew of big plays from the Bears, rallying to make it close, but then giving up a big play late to lose 35-21.
The lack of focus and intensity at the start in Springfield left head coach John Stiegelmeier scratching his head in disbelief:
Despite the setback the SDSU offense got its usual production from running back Zach Zenner, who went over the 1,000 yard mark for the third straight season, with 138 yards and a touchdown at Missouri State. And he did it with an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for a time Saturday:
South Dakota State's receiving corp continues to play well, as Trevor Tiefenthaler grabbed a career high nine catches, and Jason Schneider (4 catches, 81 yards) continued his run as the #1 receiver in the Missouri Valley Conference with and average of 78 yards per game:
This week it's back home to battle another Top 25 who has greatly underachieved this season, Northern Iowa. The Panthers were 16th to start the year, the Jacks were 6th. Now the two teams are a combined 1-6 in conference play. Something no one would have predicted at the beginning of the season:
The Jacks defense is gearing up for UNI running back David Johnson, who ran for 121 yards and a touchdown in a 27-6 win in Cedar Falls last year. This season, Johnson leads the Missouri Valley in all-purpose yards (151) per game, and is second in rushing (114 yards per game):
The Panthers defense kept the Jacks out of the end zone last season. The Panthers have forced 13 fumbles this year, recovering 7. And they're doing it the old fashioned way:
The Jackrabbits have just one win against Northern Iowa in the last seven meetings, and that came four years ago.
In Brookings these days with talk of conference championships and playoffs berths a thing of the past for this season, the focus is much more day-to-day for the SDSU program:
Kickoff in Brookings is 2:00pm Saturday.