South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Defense wins championships

South Dakota State’s defense prepares to take on the Montana Grizzlies
Evan Patzwald
Colby Huerter and Jason Freeman tackle a Bison ball carrier in their 33-16 win against NDSU on Nov. 4, 2023

Former Alabama coach Bear Bryant is credited for the phrase “Defense wins championships”, a remark that dates back to the 1970s. Now 40 years later, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits will put it to the test as they compete for their second National Championship in program history.

Safety Tucker Large isn’t the only number 1 on this side of the ball. South Dakota State’s dominant defense owns the No. 1 spot in redzone defense, scoring defense, total defense and winning percentage in the FCS.

With Such an all-around defense, there isn’t one player who rises above them all, but multiple who work together to accomplish great things.

“We play fast, we play physical,” said safety Cale Reeder. “I know all those guys want to be out on the field. We have depth so it doesn’t matter who is out there, we are going to go play ball.”

Reeder is one of five South Dakota State standouts who has had over 50 total tackles this season. The senior has 54 tackles (31 solo and 23 assisted) while adding an interception and a forced fumble to his stat line through 14 games.

Their teamwork has shown week in and week out this season with players stepping up amidst injury. With star linebacker Adam Bock jumping back and forth from the IR to the starting lineup, fellow linebackers Jason Freeman, Isaiah Stalbird and Saiveon Williamson showed up for the No. 1 defense in the nation.

Freeman holds the season record for the Jacks in total tackles with 96 while Stalbird (75 tackles) and Williamson (58 tackles) follow in second and third.

Stalbird started his college career at the University of Nebraska before transferring to South Dakota State and had nine tackles in his SDSU debut against FBS opponent Colorado State back in 2021.

After recording 14 total tackles in the 2020-21 COVID year, Williamson missed the entirety of the 2021 season due to an injury. In 2022 he brought in 37 tackles and has improved dramatically this season.

Similar to Stalbird, Freeman didn’t start his collegiate career at South Dakota State. In fact, the senior didn’t even play at the Division 1 level. Freeman tore up opponents at the NAIA level before coming to Brookings, South Dakota and has been a force to offenses since.

The Illinois native has nearly tripled his 36 total tackles from the 2022 season and has yet to finish the season.

In just nine games, Bock has shown how much he means to this defense, recording 54 total tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

“Adam Bock is a special talent, but he also is a special leader,” said head coach Jimmy Rogers. “When you are very confident in what you do, everybody feeds off of that, and that he is. He’s really confident in who he is, he’s really confident in what he knows and because of that, we have success as a defense.”

The Jackrabbit secondary watches the sky and they do it well.

Led by senior DyShawn Gales, the Jackrabbits have brought in 18 interceptions this season (tied for second most in the FCS) while returning two of them for scores.

Gales has brought in 38 tackles, a pair of picks, one tackle for loss and three passes deflected. Fellow cornerback Dalys Beanum has seen success this season all the same. The senior from Nebraska has brought in 29 tackles, seven passes deflected and four interceptions (tied for first on the team).

Beanum says that the driving point for this defense is consistency.

“It goes back all the way to fall camp,” said Beanum. “Paying attention to detail, every day coming into practice ready to work and each day working on how to get better as a defense.”

Though this season Large has been noted as a special teams threat, he also poses a challenge to quarterbacks and wide receivers on defense.

With just 19 tackles in 2022, the sophomore has proved that he is a large factor to the team by racking up 43 tackles, seven deflections and four interceptions.

Quinton Hicks, Ryan Van Marel and Cade Terveer have been putting up impressive numbers all season. Hicks leads the defensive line in tackles with 26. Van Marel (23 tackles) and Terveer (20 tackles) follow closely.

Terveer leads the team in tackles for loss with 7.5 for -36 yards and sacks with six on the season. Van Marel has seven tackles for loss and two sacks.

The Jackrabbits play their final game of the season against the Montana Grizzlies on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. in Frisco, Texas. The championship will be televised on ABC and can be streamed live on ESPN+.

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About the Contributors
Marshall Minihan, Sports Editor
Sports Editor Marshall Minihan is a junior at South Dakota State University and is from Canton, South Dakota. He majors in journalism and minors in communication studies and recreation administration.
Evan Patzwald
Evan Patzwald, Design Editor
Design Editor Evan Patzwald is a senior advertising major from Sioux Falls. He has minors in journalism, graphic design and social media.

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