South Dakota State’s John Stiegelmeier on Butler Game [AUDIO]
2012 was a memorable year for the South Dakota State football team. A second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference and a home playoff win gave Jackrabbit fans plenty to get excited about.
Saturday night in Brookings, SDSU begins their follow-up to arguably the most successful football season in school history when they host Butler.
One thing that has been a nemesis for the Jacks in 2013 is the weather; cold and miserable in the Spring, disrupting several practices; now scorching hot in the Summer, again forcing head coach John Stiegelmeier and his staff to alter their workout plans:
The one thing the weather can't alter is the calendar, and this week is game week, which means everything changes for this team from the routine they've been in since Spring practice:
The Bulldogs shared the Pioneer League title last season with San Diego and Drake, and feature a spread out offensive attack that can beat you a number of different ways.
Leading the offense is junior quarterback Matt Lancaster, who threw for 2,700 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, while being picked off just 3 times.
His favorite target is receiver Jeremy Stephens, who caught 62 passes for 8 touchdowns in 2012.
On the ground, running back Trae Heeter averaged 100 yards per game last season.
There's plenty there to keep the Jackrabbits defense busy:
SDSU counters with a veteran offense of their own, with talented junior quarterback Austin Sumner and junior running back Zach Zenner returning behind a veteran offensive line. Having all of those pieces in place makes for a very confident head coach:
The question marks on defense are at the linebacker position, where the Jacks are working in a few new faces, with mixed results so far:
One of the biggest positives for SDSU heading into the opener, an extremely short injury list. A far cry from the 2012 opener when starting quarterback Austin Sumner missed the entire first half with a hand injury:
Saturday's late kickoff is the first of three straight evening starts to begin the 2013 season. Stiegelmeier says that's a big plus for his players:
Kickoff at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is 6:00pm Saturday.