Iowa presents early test

Running back: Jackrabbits match up well with Hawkeyes

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

After the unfortunate loss to Montana State last year in the 2021 FCS semifinals, South Dakota State is looking for a rebound. 

Starting off the 2022 season, the Jackrabbits will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday at 11 a.m. in Iowa City.

Last season, the Jacks won their FBS season opener against Colorado State University in a stunning 42-23 performance. The Jackrabbits were one of only 12 FCS teams to beat an FBS opponent as a school last year out of 117 matchups.

Though this year the Jacks have a more difficult opponent in the Hawkeyes. Iowa finished 10-4 (7-2 Big Ten West) last year after starting the season 6-0 while ranking second in the nation.

In 2021, SDSU finished 11-4 (5-3 Missouri Valley Football Conference). The team averaged 36.1 points per game, which was 10th in the FCS.

The Hawkeyes ranked 13th last season in rushing defense, with teams averaging less than 115 rushing yards against them per game. 

“I think we are gonna match up real well, they do some great things,” running back Isaiah Davis said. “They have two good linebackers and some guys up front too but I got all the confidence in my guys that we will take care of business.” 

After the Jackrabbits lost both their starting quarterback Chris Oladokun and running back Pierre Strong Jr. to the NFL, they will need their replacements to step up against Iowa.

“Pierre was a big part of the backfield last year, but his time is over, but we definitely had some guys this summer step up and I’m excited to see what they are going to put on the field next Saturday,” Davis said. 

Last season, Davis only played in seven games due to an injury early in the regular season. But in those seven games, he managed to put up 701 yards on 95 carries.

On the receiving side, the Jacks managed to keep their best pass catchers for the 2022 season. The Janke twins, Jadon and Jaxon, are currently in their senior seasons at SDSU. Last season, Jaxon led the team in receiving yards while his brother Jadon led the team in receiving touchdowns with nine total.

Tucker Kraft, who was awarded to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team last year, will be coming back as well. The Timber Lake native had a career season in 2021 going for 780 purpose yards, with 6 touchdowns on 65 receptions, while playing all 15 games.

On the defensive side, junior linebacker Adam Bock led the Jacks with 125 tackles last season. 

“The number of tackles is always nice, but at the end of the day, the main thing I’m concerned about is getting a 1 in the win column and I mean an undefeated season would mean much more to me than topping my tackles (from the previous season),” Bock said.

“I’m originally from Solon, Iowa, which is about 20 minutes north of Iowa City and I grew up a Hawkeyes fan so it kind of feels like a homecoming,” Bock said.

One thing the Jacks have been practicing on is the atmosphere of Kinnick Stadium. Kinnick can hold up to 69,250 fans, which puts it in the top 20 of the largest stadiums owned by a university in the nation.

 “A unique thing is their environment. With so many thousands of people and they just create energy, and it will be the most intense stadium we have been in. Our offense is going to have to practice with a bunch of noise to simulate that kind of environment,” coach John Stiegelmeier said.

The following week, Sept. 10, The Jackrabbits will take on the UC Davis Aggies for the home opener at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at 6 p.m.