Jackrabbits Open 2012 at Kansas
BROOKINGS, SD -- The South Dakota State University football team kicks off the 2012 season Saturday night by playing up a division, traveling to Kansas for a matchup against the Football Bowl Subdivision Jayhawks.
Kickoff is slated for 6:06 p.m. at Memorial Stadium on the KU campus in Lawrence. The game will be televised in the Kansas City and greater Kansas area on the IMG Jayhawk Television Network.
The Jackrabbits are coming off their second consecutive 5-6 season, including a 4-4 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU will be in search of its first win over an FBS opponent since moving to the Division I and Football Championship Subdivision ranks in 2004.
Kansas will be playing its first game under head coach Charlie Weis. The Jayhawks ended the 2011 season with a 2-10 overall record, including an 0-9 mark in the Big 12 Conference.
THE SERIES: Saturday's game will mark the second meeting on the gridiron between South Dakota State and Kansas. The series dates back to Oct. 11, 1947, when Kansas handed the Jackrabbits one of their worst-ever losses, an 86-6 drubbing in Lawrence.
Kansas scored three touchdowns in each of the first three quarters and tacked on four more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Eleven different players reached the end zone for the Jayhawks, with Tom Scott and Forrest Griffith each scoring twice.
The Jackrabbits' lone touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from Dud Melichar to Beverly Craig to cap an 83-yard scoring drive.
The 1947 season was the first on the sidelines for Jackrabbit head coach Ralph Ginn, who would go on to become SDSU's all-time wins leader with a 113-89-9 record over 22 seasons. Ginn would lead the Jackrabbits to nine North Central Conference titles - the first of which came in 1949.
VERSUS THE BIG 12: South Dakota State is in search of its first-ever victory over a current Big 12 Conference member. The Jackrabbits are a combined 0-6 against current Big 12 foes, with the last meeting a 44-17 setback at Iowa State in the 2008 season opener.
Following is a listing of previous games against Big 12 opponents - all of which were played on the road:
• 1947: Kansas 86, South Dakota State 6
• 1952: Iowa State 57, South Dakota State 19
• 1954: Iowa State 34, South Dakota State 6
• 1959: Kansas State 28, South Dakota State 12
• 1960: Kansas State 20, South Dakota State 6
• 2008: Iowa State 44, South Dakota State 17
• vs. Kansas 0-1
• vs. Kansas State 0-2
• vs. Iowa State 0-3
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are five captains:
• Seth Daughters, Sr., tight end, Winner, S.D.;
• Bo Helm, Sr., defensive back, Childress, Texas;
• Ross Shafrath, Sr., linebacker, Hampton, Iowa;
• Austin Sumner, So., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Jr., defensive back, Lee's Summit, Mo.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition this season by naming two non-senior players - Sumner and Wright - as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class.
SEASON OPENERS: During the John Stiegelemeier era, the Jackrabbits have compiled a 10-5 record in season openers. SDSU won its first seven season-opening games under Coach Stig when competing at the NCAA Division II level, but has gone 3-5 in season openers since moving to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision in 2004.
The Jackrabbits have opened the season one other time against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, falling 44-17 at Iowa State on Aug. 30, 2008.
VALLEY PREVIEW: South Dakota State has been picked to finish sixth in the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Poll, which was announced in early August.
Defending national champion North Dakota State gained the top spot, receiving 37 of 38 first-place votes in the poll conducted by league coaches, sports information directors and select media. Northern Iowa, which tied NDSU for the league regular season title a year ago, finished second in the poll, followed by Youngstown State and Illinois State.
Indiana State rounded out the top half of the poll, with SDSU taking sixth. Southern Illinois, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Missouri State completed the poll.
Individually, three Jackrabbit players were recognized on the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team. Offensively, senior wide receiver Aaron Rollin and tackle Bryan Witzmann were honored along with defensive back Winston Wright.
Rollin, an honorable mention all-league performer last season, tied for the team lead with 61 receptions last season. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native also gained 906 yards through the air and reccorded a team-best seven touchdowns in 2011.
Witzmann, a junior from Houlton, Wis., also earned honorable mention all-MVFC honors in 2011. He has started all 22 games at left tackle over the last two seasons.
Wright, a junior from Lee's Summit, Mo., was a second-team all-MVFC selection in 2011 after recording a team-best three interceptions from his cornerback position. Wright also notched 57 tackles and a team-best seven pass breakups.
Also recognized on the preseason team was honorable mention selection Andy Mink on the defensive line. A native of Ashland, Neb., Mink racked up 75 tackles, including team-best totals of 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2011.
SCOUTING KANSAS: The Kansas Jayhawks usher in a new era Saturday as they will play their first game under head coach Charlie Weis.
The Jayhawks finished the 2011 season with a 2-10 overall record, going winless in the Big 12 Conference action, but hope to turn their fortunes around behind a new coaching staff and the leadership of quarterback Dayne Crist. Formerly a player at Notre Dame under Weis, Crist completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and threw for 2,327 yards and 16 touchdowns in 17 career games before transferring to Kansas.
In the receiving crops, D.J. Beshears and Daymond Patterson return. Beshears recorded a team-best 40 receptions for 437 yards and three touchdowns last season, while Patterson tallied 60 catches for 487 yards during the 2010 campaign.
Defensively, safety Bradley McDougald leads the returning group of players. McDougald finished second on the team with 90 total tackles, adding five tackles for loss and two interceptions.
Linebacker Darius Willis also returns after a 2011 season in which he notched 81 tackles, including eight for loss.
SUMNER AT THE HELM: South Dakota State University quarterback Austin Sumner will attempt to build off an impressive freshman season a year ago.
However, Sumner was injured in practice late last week and is questionable for Saturday's game at Kansas. Redshirt freshman Eric Kline would start in Sumner's place should Sumner not be able to play.
A native of Brandon, S.D., Sumner started the final eight games of the 2011 season, leading the Jackrabbits to a 4-4 record and setting the Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing. Sumner, who finished third in the voting for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, also tied a Jackrabbit single-game record with 37 completions versus nationally ranked Northern Iowa on Oct. 15, 2011.
Sumner topped the 300-yard mark five times in 2011, including throwing for a career-best 377 yards in a double-overtime win over Missouri State.
ROLLIN ROLLING ALONG: Senior wide receiver Aaron Rollin is poised to enter the Jackrabbit career top 10 in a pair of receiving categories during the 2012 season.
A native of Lee's Summit, Mo., Rollin has recorded 96 receptions for 1,311 yards in his first three seasons with the Jackrabbits. He enters Saturday's season opener 20 catches away from cracking the SDSU careeer top 10 and 347 receiving yards shy of top-10 status.
Rollin put together a breaktrhough 2011 campaign, leading the team with seven touchdowns while sharing the team lead with 61 receptions. He teamed with Dale Moss to give SDSU one of the top receiving tandems in the nation as both receivers topped the 900-yard mark. Rollin caught at least one pass in every game last season and 21 in a row dating back to the 2009 season.
DUAL THREAT: South Dakota State's Tyrel Kool has shifted all around the field during his Jackrabbit career and will see action both in the backfield and at wide receiver in 2012.
A senior from Yankton, Kool began his collegiate career as a running back and kick returner, but switched to wide receiver during the 2010 season, when he led the team with 64 receptions for 808 yards. His receptions total is fifth-most in a season by a Jackrabbit player, while his receiving yards mark stood 10th in a single season as he earned honorable mention all-Missouri Valley Football Conference recognition.
In 2011, Kool moved back to running back and led the team with 534 yards rushing. He made the most of his first career start at running back, racking up 107 yards on the ground and another 79 through the air in the Jackrabbits' 2011 season opener against Southern Utah.
Additionally, Kool saw time at defensive back late in the 2009. He recorded 10 total tackles, including three in the Jackrabbits' playoff game at Montana.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING: Running back Zach Zenner put together a series of impressive all-around performances last season and is expected to shoulder the load in the Jackrabbit backfield in 2012.
A redshirt freshman from Eagan, Minn., Zenner compiled 139 all-purpose yards in the 2011 season-opening Jackrabbit victory against Southern Utah. He returned four kickoffs for 74 yards, caught three passes for 24 yards and carried the ball five times for 41 yards. He scored the first touchdown of his career, scampering 27 yards around left end on the final play of the third quarter.
Zenner ranked third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with an average of 123.1 all-purpose yards per game, earning him a spot on the league's all-newcomer team. He made his first career start Oct. 29 at Missouri State.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright during the 2011 season.
Natives of Lee's Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A junior, Winston Wright started all 11 games at cornerback last season en route to earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. He led the team with three interceptions to go along with 57 tackles. He began his colllegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a sophomore wide receiver who saw most of his action as a kick returner. In nine games, he has averaged 15.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns to rank second on the squad.
HELM NOMINATED FOR GOOD WORKS TEAM: South Dakota State University senior Bo Helm is one of 117 college football players to be nominated for the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The award, which is presented in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association, recognizes the selfless contributions to volunteerism and community service made by college football student-athletes across the nation.
A native of Childress, Texas, Helm has been involved in a number of community service activities during his Jackrabbit career. He has served as a tutor, been a mentor for the Flandreau Indian School Success Academy, volunteered for a number of youth camps and clinics and has played an active role in organizing drives for the Brookings Food Pantry and Feed My Starving Children. Helm also has devoted countless hours to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and recently completed a mission trip to Jamaica.
From the nominees submitted by sports information directors across the nation on behalf of their schools, a special voting panel consisting of former Good Works Team members and prominent college football media members will select two 11-player Good Works Teams - one comprised of players from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and another representing players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III and the NAIA. The 22 student-athletes named to the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team will be announced in late September.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to a 93-72 record (.567 winning percentage). SDSU has posted eight winning seasons in the last 10 years, including six of the school's first eight campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 11 of Stiegelmeier's 15 years as head coach, and have a 21-11 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU's 43-36 double-overtime victory at Missouri State last season ended a four-game losing streak in overtime games for the Jackrabbits.
Overall, SDSU is 2-4 in overtime games, with both home contests played on Hobo Day. The Jackrabbits won their inaugural overtime game, 30-27 in two overtimes against Nebraska-Omaha in the 1998 Hobo Day game, then dropped a 46-44, triple-overtime decision to McNeese State (La.) in the 2008 Hobo Day game.
Following is a complete list of SDSU's overtime games:
• 1998: SDSU 30, Nebraska-Omaha 27 (2 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
• 2002: Augustana 39, SDSU 33 (3 OT - at Sioux Falls)
• 2004: Southern Utah 23, SDSU 17 (2 OT - at Cedar City, Utah)
• 2007: Western Illinois 29, SDSU 26 (4 OT - at Macomb, Ill.)
• 2008: McNeese State 46, SDSU 44 (3 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
• 2011: SDSU 43, Missouri State 36 (2 OT - at Springfield, Mo.)
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to continue road action Sept. 8 by traveling to Southeastern Louisiana for a non-conference matchup.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, La.
Courtesy: South Dakota State University