Jacks hope to build momentum in first home game after promising performance
Coming off a hard-fought 59-41 loss versus 15th ranked Texas Christian, the South Dakota State football team moves onto a vastly different task Saturday night: opening the new Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
Saturday’s game versus Drake University Bulldogs caps off the three-day Jacks Bash event celebrating the stadium’s inauguration, and it could be easy for the Jackrabbit team to overlook the Bulldogs amid the festivities, especially considering how well SDSU played for three quarters last week against stellar competition.
Drake is coming off of a 38-35 loss in their season opener against Division II opponent Quincy University. The Bulldogs went 5-6 last season but defeated the University of Dayton, a playoff team.
The Jackrabbit defense needs to fix some of the holes TCU’s offense, and quarterback Kenny Hill, exploited Saturday night to the tune of more than 600 yards. An effective Drake offense sustains drives by running the ball and taking what the defense gives them through the air.
SDSU can counter that with its front seven providing consistent pressure and making tackles, something Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Ends Coach Clint Brown said they didn’t do well versus TCU.
“We did not do a very good job of getting those guys to the ground and getting them wrapped up,” Brown said Monday during the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show. “That was probably one of the bigger disappointments coming out of the game…we kept a lot of drives alive.”
However, there were many positive takeaways from the week one loss. The secondary made a couple big plays in the first half, keeping SDSU in the game. Interceptions by Makiah Slade and Jordan Brown on back-to-back throws by Hill led to 14-straight SDSU points.
Sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion, making only his fifth career start, made plays that gave Jackrabbit fans reason to be optimistic. He connected early and often with junior receiving standout Jake Wieneke, including a perfectly placed 34-yard touchdown at the end of the third to cut the deficit to seven.
Wieneke was named co-Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his eighth catch, 196-yard and two touchdown performance. The Maple Grove, Minnesota, product also became just the third Jackrabbit to surpass 3,000 career receiving yards in the game.
The Jackrabbits (0-1) dropped one spot in the STATS rankings this week, falling from eighth to ninth.