Winless team comes in hungry for Hobo win

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

SDSU looks to make it two wins in a row this Saturday against the winless Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.

SFA are lead by first year head coach J.C. Harper who is a 1989 Clemson graduate and spent the past two seasons as SFA defensive coordinator. This will be the first ever match up between these two schools in football.

SDSU ended a four game losing streak dating back to last season with a 38-3 victory over Texas State last Saturday night. SFA has lost their first three games of the season, including a 34-13 defeat last week against Western Illinois.

Last season, SFA finished with a 4-7 record, but still managed to finish tied for second place with a 4-2 record in the Southland Conference. Expectation were high coming into the season for SFA as they were picked to finish second in the conference in the coaches poll and third in conference in the Sports Information Directors poll before the season.

SFA are guided on the offensive side of the ball by senior quarterback Danny Southall (six-foot-three, 214). Southall is on pace to finish his career among the school’s all-time top 10 in total offense and passing yardage. Not only is Southall the team leader in passing, with three touchdowns and an average of 195 yards per game, he also leads the Lumberjacks in rushing with 214 yards gained in three games. The offense has only cracked the 20 point mark once this season and is averaging just less than 19 points per game, which puts them tied for 92nd out of 122 Division I-AA teams. SFA had a difficult time scoring in the second half with only 10 points.

The offensive line for SFA returns all five starters from last year averaging six feet, four inches tall and 298 pounds. OL Taylor Cobb and Nebraska transfer Brock Pasteur, who was listed as the seventh strongest player in college football by ESPN in 2006, were preseason picks for the All-Southland Conference first team and helped SFA average 188.7 rush yards per game during its conference schedule last season.

The SFA defense has not fared much better as they have yet to hold a team under 215 yards rushing or 27 points. North Dakota State gained 350 yards rushing two weeks ago averaging 7.4 yard per carry. Freshman linebacker Terrance Nurse (six-foot-two, 220-pounds) is the leading tackler on the team with 21 stops, seven of them solo, and five of them for a loss of yards. Six-foot-four, 235-pound, former walk-on sophomore defensive end Tim Knicky leads the team with two sacks and four and a half tackles for a loss. One thing that the defense has been able to do is cause turnovers, four on interceptions and three on fumble recoveries.

Overall, the defensive line is smaller than average at six-foot-two, 266-pounds and will have to go up against an SDSU offensive line that clocks in at six-foot-four, 283-pounds. Experience is not a strong point either, as seven of the starters on defense are freshmen or sophomores. The two senior starters are linebacker Bug Aymond and cornerback Stephon Rhea. Aymond (five-foot-eleven, 195-pounds) was moved to linebacker before his junior season and reacted by earning 2006 honorable mention All-Southland Conference honors.

SFA kicking game is led by junior kicker Cory Long who earned SLC Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time in his career two weeks ago against NDSU. Long was 4-4 on field-goal attempts connecting on a career long boot of 47 yards. He is currently 10th all-time in school history with 156 career points.

SDSU has won the last four games on Hobo Day and a win against SFA would set an all-time school record for consecutive Hobo Day wins.

SDSU has played 45 Hobo Day games at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, with a 26-19 record. The games have attracted at total of 468,595 fans, an average of 10,413 per game. The highest attended SDSU football game ever, 16,193, was on Hobo Day in 1985, a 24-12 win over the University of South Dakota. The record is not likely to fall this weekend, but coming off of the fifth largest crowd in school history last week, another crowd near 15,000 is probable.

SFA will be the first opponent that SDSU has played this year that has not been ranked or received votes in the FCS Poll the week before. Given that fact that SFA has struggled on both sides of the ball this year, and SDSU is coming off of its most impressive game in years, the Jackrabbits have a fair shot at winning.

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