Jacks travel to Cali

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

The Jackrabbit football team has won its past three games, but in order to make it four in a row, the Jacks must defeat another ranked opponent on the road. SDSU faces the pre-season Great West Football Conference pick and No. 4 California Polytechnic State University, Saturday, Oct. 21.

The Mustangs enter the game 5-1 on the season, and 2-0 in Great West Football Conference play. Last week, Cal Poly defeated the University of California-Davis, 23-17.

Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said preparing for Cal Poly is a challenge because “they have a style all their own.”

“Everything about the program is unique ? even their special teams have a twist to them,” he said.

Stiegelmeier said the Jacks’ bye week came at the perfect time because it allowed three extra days to prepare for Cal Poly and also gave injured players a chance to recover.

Last season, Cal Poly became the first Great West team to compete in the Division I-AA playoffs. The Mustangs advanced to the quarter finals, where they lost to Texas State.

In last season’s meeting between Cal Poly and SDSU, the Mustangs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, and the Jacks could not come back.

Cal Poly used big plays and quick drives to rack up points. SDSU held a large advantage in possession time and ran more than 30 more offensive plays than the Mustangs, yet only managed 22 more total offensive yards.

The Cal Poly Mustangs are led by their defense. In the past two seasons, the Buck Buchanan Award for top defensive player in Division I-AA has come from Cal Poly. This season, Cal Poly linebacker Kyle Shotwell is a candidate for the award.

Shotwell leads a defense that ranks first in the conference, only giving up 202.7 yards per game and has forced 14 turnovers through five games.

To combat the Mustang defense, Stiegelmeier said the Jacks’ running game will be simple and the passing game will look for more short passes.

The Mustang offense features the conference’s leading rusher from a year ago, James Noble. Noble is averaging 100 yards rushing per game this season. Quarterback Matt Brennan has thrown for six touchdowns this year and five interceptions.

Stiegelmeier said the key to stopping the Mustangs’ offense is to stop Noble and six-foot, six-inch wide receiver Ramses Brown, who has more than half of the Mustangs’ receptions.

If playing a high-ranked opponent on the road is not a large enough challenge for the Jacks, this weekend’s game is Cal Poly’s homecoming.

“(Homecoming) benefits them and is a negative for us,” said Stiegelmeier. “They are too good of a program to be distracted.”

#1.884082:1950258405.jpg:sdsuvscalpoly03_cj.jpg::Charlie Johnson