Big plays down Jacks

Shane Koob

Rennie, UNI made the plays in the second half and SDSU failed to respond.

Dual threat quarterbacks have been on the rise over the past few years in college football, which can present challenges for any defense. SDSU managed to stop half of UNI quarterback Tirrell Rennie’s game, holding him to just 27 yards on 10 attempts.

So the Panthers went to the air and reaped the benefits of Rennie’s dual threat ability as he went 16-20 for 239 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.

“He made some tough passes in some tight spots. Receivers are making catches for him too. There’s a lot of belief among that offensive group right now,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said.

Rennie made big plays through the air all night on SDSU’s inexperienced defensive backfield, including a 80-yard touchdown strike to receiver Jerred Herring. The touchdown broke a 14-14 tie with four minutes to play in the first half, and UNI played up to their number two ranking the rest of the game.

The Jackrabbit defense has been plagued by big plays all season, but SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier didn’t place blame on any specific area of his defense after last Saturday’s loss.

“This was a breakdown across the board. More one position than another but all eleven guys have to do their job,” Stiegelmeier said.

Late half letdown

A sequence of plays at the end of the first half could be used as an example of how SDSU’s season has gone thus far.

UNI punted to the Jacks and after a 19-yard return by Brandon Gant, SDSU had the ball at the Panther 35 yard line with 53 seconds remaining in the half with one timeout left.

Given the way SDSU had moved the ball most of the first half and with good field position, chances were high for at least a field goal on the drive.

But Sumner was sacked on first down when the Jacks couldn’t set up a screen, forcing SDSU to burn its final timeout. The play would prove to be costly.

After completing a 15-yard pass to Jason Schneider, Sumner found Brandon Hubert over the middle for a 23-yard catch and run. Hubert was tackled at the three yard line, and with no timeouts, the clock continued to run.

Instead of spiking the ball with roughly 20 seconds to play and having a chance to talk things over in the huddle, SDSU chose to run a play.

The decision was pretty much the nail in the coffin for the Jacks.

Sumner was picked off by UNI’s Varmah Sonie on a underthrown ball while trying to hit receiver Aaron Rollin on a fade route in the back corner of the endzone.

“I’ll take credit for that one. I just gotta put it where my guy can catch it. I feel like that took some wind out of us,” Sumner said.

A touchdown would have kept some momentum on SDSU’s side entering the second half, but instead the Jacks handed UNI a huge boost heading into the locker room with their seven point lead intact.

Inconsistency at it’s finest.

Pass With Care

Whether by choice or necessity, SDSU is turning into a passing team this season.

Outside of the week one win over Southern Utah, the SDSU running game hasn’t seen much success. With running backs Tyrel Kool and Zach Zenner combining for only 88 yards on 25 carries against UNI, the load of the offense fell on the shoulders of redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Sumner.

Sumner completed 37 of 54 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns, but the UNI defense did what they do best: create turnovers, as they picked off Sumner four times.

“They were just making plays,” Sumner said of the UNI defense. “I just got to do better. I didn’t play my best game tonight and they’re a good team. If you don’t play good against good teams nothing good is going to happen.”

The reason for the suddenly pass-happy Jacks may be due to a banged up offensive line not being able to create holes. It may be that Kyle Minett left a bigger hole than expected in the backfield. More likely, however, is the fact SDSU has been forced to score quickly and play catch-up in most games this season.

Either way, the Jackrabbit offense now relies mostly on Sumner’s right arm, which is a shaky situation to be in for any team starting a young quarterback.