South Dakota State Preview: #4 Jackrabbits at Missouri State
For the first time since early September, South Dakota State will take the field after a loss when the fourth-ranked Jackrabbits travel to Missouri State, Saturday (November 2) in week five of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule.
SDSU (6-2/3-1 MVFC) had a six-game winning snapped by top-ranked North Dakota State last weekend (October 26), the Jacks' first loss since a season-opening defeat at Minnesota.
South Dakota State may have lost much more than just a game against the Bison. Starting quarterback J'Bore Gibbs was knocked out in the first quarter with a knee injury which may sideline him for the remainder of his redshirt freshman season.
In his place, the Jackrabbits will go with third-stringer Keaton Heide, a true freshman from the Wayzata, Minnesota. He came in the second half of the NDSU game and ran for a touchdown before throwing a fourth-quarter interception.
Backup Kanin Nelson may also see action. He ran nine times for 40 yards last week and completed a pair of passes.
SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier told me about the current quarterback situation:
Missouri State (1-6/1-3 MVFC) comes into Saturday's game on a three-game skid that has seen them be outscored 96-16 in losses to South Dakota, North Dakota State, and Northern Iowa.
The Bears have no issues at quarterback with senior Peyton Huslig coming as the Missouri Valley's active career passing leader with better than 5,400 yards.
Stiegelmeier says he's impressed with what Huslig can do with a football in his hand:
Despite that talent in the passing game, Missouri State is last in the league in total offense (258 yards per game) thanks in large part to the worst running attack in the Valley (54 yards per game)
The Bears defense also ranks dead last in the league, giving up the most total yards per game (388) and passing yards per game (232), while notching the fewest quarterback sacks (6 in four games).
They do have a pair of talented linebackers in Egbim McNeese and Angelo Garbutt , the team's leading tacklers. Stiegelmeier says the linebackers, along with lineman Claudio Martin and defensive back Kam Carter are the strength of the Bears defense:
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Springfield.
Last week in the 23-16 loss to top-ranked North Dakota State, Jackrabbits jumped put to an early 6-0 first-quarter lead, but the advantage could have been bigger as SDSU drove inside the Bison 20-yard line three different times in the first half and only came away with a pair of Chase Vinatieri field goals.
Stiegelmeier the lack of touchdowns in the red zone was the result of a few different things:
After keeping the NDSU running game in check in the first half, the SDSU defense gave up two big plays in the second half, a Ty Brooks 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and an Adam Cofield 71-yard scoring run on 4th-and-one in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the game-winner.
Despite losing for the second time this season, Stiegelmeier says no one in the SDSU program is hanging their heads: