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Jacks prepare for unusual Montana State offense

ABBY+FULLENKAMP%0AJunior+quarterback+Taryn+Christion+readies+for+the+next+play+during+the+first+half+of+the+Nov.+4%2C+2017+game+against+North+Dakota+State.+The+Jacks+beat+the+Bison+33-21.+
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Jacks prepare for unusual Montana State offense

ABBY FULLENKAMP
Junior quarterback Taryn Christion readies for the next play during the first half of the Nov. 4, 2017 game against North Dakota State. The Jacks beat the Bison 33-21.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior quarterback Taryn Christion readies for the next play during the first half of the Nov. 4, 2017 game against North Dakota State. The Jacks beat the Bison 33-21.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior quarterback Taryn Christion readies for the next play during the first half of the Nov. 4, 2017 game against North Dakota State. The Jacks beat the Bison 33-21.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior quarterback Taryn Christion readies for the next play during the first half of the Nov. 4, 2017 game against North Dakota State. The Jacks beat the Bison 33-21.

Trenton Abrego

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It might be one week late, but after 12 plays against Iowa State and a 12-hour day on the road, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits will be back in Brookings to play their season opener.

Since the game was canceled, none of the accumulated stats during the game will count for season totals.

After a disappointing trip to Ames, Iowa, the Jacks will now shift their focus to an unconventional offense that features a running back as their quarterback.

Montana State didn’t have any issues with the weather in its game against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Although, the Bobcat defense did have some issues stopping the Leatherneck offense.

In that game, the Bobcats offense was outgained by 78 yards, lost the time of possession and punted more times than the Leathernecks. Despite the disparities in stats, the Bobcats came out on top with a 26-23 victory.

This season, the Bobcats are without their two-year starting quarterback, Chris Murray, who will instead take the year off and focus on his academics.

The absence of Murray forced Montana State head coach Jeff Choate to get creative.

Former starting running back and linebacker, Troy Andersen was selected as the signal caller.

Offensively, the Bobcats like to run a speed option, with just one running back. This allows Andersen to run the ball, while the defense concerns itself with the possible pitch to the running back.

“[It’s] not your traditional option, where you have everyone assigned to things,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “It’s one-back much of it so you’re really depleted.”

Against Western Illinois, Andersen was able to make a difference in the game with the option plays.  

Andersen rushed for 145 yards on 24 attempts and found the end zone twice. Through the air, Andersen completed 12 passes for 81 yards and threw an interception.

As a team, the Bobcats earned 158 yards on the ground and 81 yards through the passing game.  That’s something that the Jacks are expecting to remain the same this week.

“It’s pretty glaring what they want to do,” Stiegelmeier said.

When they do go to the passing game, one of the targets for Andersen is listed on the roster as a quarterback.  

In the spring, Andersen won the job over Travis Jonsen, an ex-Oregon Duck commit and four-star recruit. After leaving Oregon, Jonsen played quarterback at Riverside Community College where he played in ten games.

“I think he’s one of the best athletes on our team,” Choate said. “We got to make sure that if he’s not playing quarterback, he’s playing somewhere.”

For the Jacks, they have a full game of tape on the Bobcats – a luxury that Montana State does not have.

“In a good program, the things you change are not drastic,” Stiegelmeier said. “[We] finished third in the Nation last year, we’re not revamping the program.”

That was proven to be true in Ames, Iowa. On the first play against the Cyclones, the Jacks ran a play they used to use to get Goedert open, according to Choate.

One of the main keys for the Jacks heading into the week is to play their own brand of football – which means incorporating the passing game.

“They could play football for another 100 years there at South Dakota State University and they may not have a guy who won as many games as this guy [Taryn Christion] is going to end up winning,” Choate said.

In order for the Jacks to have success on offense, they will have to make sure that the offensive line protects Christion.

Tyrone Fa’anono and Derek Marks are listed as the starting defensive ends for the Bobcats. Marks had a sack against the Jackrabbits last year in Bozeman and finished the year with four sacks.

Defensive backs for the Bobcats made a difference and showed they can make quarterbacks pay for their mistakes. In their win over the Western Illinois Leathernecks, they had two interceptions – one by Jahque Alleyne and the other by Brayden Konkol.

The Bobcats scored three points on their two turnovers.

According to Choate, the Jacks defense themselves got stronger from a year ago.

“This may be a more athletic overall defense than they had a year ago,” Choate said.

Stiegelmeier and the Jacks added Brandon Snyder during the off-season and will have a strong linebacker corps led by Christian Rozeboom and Logan Backhaus.

The Jacks and Bobcats are slated to start at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept., 8 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

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Jacks prepare for unusual Montana State offense