There's an old saying in sports that defense wins championships, and with their sights squarely set on winning both Missouri Valley Conference and FCS titles, South Dakota State has most of the pieces in place on defense to be considered a serious contender.
The Jackrabbits return a host of key members fro a unit that ranked in the Top Ten nationally last season in scoring defense, total defense, and pass efficiency.
It all starts up front, where senior defensive ends Doug Peete and Marshall
Peugh anchor the line.
Peete led SDSU with 13.5 tackles for loss and shared the team lead with six sacks as a junior. He knows how special it is to have Peugh, a member of the MVFC All-Newcomer Team last season, playing up front with him:
Peugh transferred from Glendale Community College in Arizona before last season, and finished 2012 with 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Peugh and Peete are joined up front by seniors Chase Douglas and Bryan Burke.
At linebacker, just one of the pieces is in place from last season.
Sophomore middle linebacker T.J. Lally had a sensational freshman season, notching 107 tackles (2nd best on the team) while tying for the team lead with six sacks.  He added a pair of interceptions.
He was also a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, for the top freshman player in FCS.  Not a bad opening act:

Even though he's only a sophomore, Lalley knows as the only returning starter at linebacker this season, he's now the leader of this group:

The other linebacking spots are a work in progress, as sophomore Charles Elmore and senior R.C. Kilgore both look to play more in 2013, while redshirt freshman Dallas Brown has made the move from safety to linebacker, and true freshman Jesse Bobbit will see time on the field as well.
Despite the new faces behind him, Doug Peete is confident in this group's ability to come together quickly:
There's a veteran presence at cornerback for the Jacks as Winston Wright and Je Ryan
Butler both return as starters.
Wright was an all-MVFC selection as a junior last year. Butler became a starter at the midway point of last season and ended up with two interceptions.
Senior Andrew Brown is expected to move into a starting role at one safety, while
junior Jake Gentile and sophomore Drew Kreutzfeldt will battle for the other spot.

The Jackrabbits begin the 2013 season at home Saturday night at 6:00pm with Butler.