Four years have gone by since the last time SDSU football could compete for a national championship, and one of the bigger steps to competing for the title will take place this weekend. On April 26, the Jackrabbits will showcase the 2008 annual inter-squad where “kick-off” is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Coughlin Alumni-Stadium.
The format of the spring game will not be a “blue” offensive-defensive team vs. the “yellow” offensive-defensive team as is the case with a regular game. Instead, the entire offense will go against the entire defensive Jacks squad. Both squads will earn points based on different plays. For example, a touchdown is worth the normal six points and a field goal three, but the offense is also rewarded for an eight play drive (two points) and gains of 30 yards or more. The defense is rewarded for such plays as an interception/fumble return for a touchdown – 12 points – a three and out – two points – and a tackle for a loss – one point.
“If the offense gains four to five yards, then the offense wins. If the defense holds the offense to less than three yards, the defense wins,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said.
While the points are recorded and there will be a winner and a loser, the number one goal for SDSU is to stay healthy.
The point of the game is to evaluate players at different positions throughout the football team.
“I think you will see a pretty good team,” Stiegelmeier said. “Ideally, if you can come and watch, even though we are playing against ourselves, I think you will see a really good football team. I think it helps if the stands get some people into it, too.”
Among the changes from last year is new quarterback coach Don Bailey, whose last job was at Weber State.
He will be paired up with last year’s starters: senior Ryan Berry, junior Ryan Crawford, sophomore Corey Jeske and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities transfer Marcel Jones.
With Berry back, Stiegelmeier expects greatness from last year’s starting quarterback.
“He is a really good decision maker; I look for him to put the pressure on himself to be as close to perfect as possible. I’m talking about decision making,” Stiegelmeier said. “If your read tells you to throw to the curl and you throw to the curl, that’s what I am talking about. That’s the right decision. If it is not a perfect pass, that to me is easier to work on than the mental stuff.”
Another significant change is that the Jacks could land themselves in the playoffs by winning the Gateway Football Conference or receive an at-large bid.
“It’s exciting and it’s normal, other than Little League baseball; does a season not end in playoffs? We’re legitimate, we’re real and through the transition. What I don’t want is to feel the pressure or think about the past. We say 1-0 every week, and if we take care of that, then we can celebrate at the end of the season, which will be difficult,” Stiegelmeier said.
With the Jacks opening the 2008 campaign at Ames, Iowa, 126 days from April 23, they need to get the ball rolling into fall camp; the spring game is vital to the start of summer workouts.
“Bottom line, once we are done with spring, we want our depth chart set and let the kids compete from there,” said Stiegelmeier.