Change was the buzzword at South Dakota State's just completed Spring football camp.

The Jackrabbits are working in new coordinators on both sides of the ball and looking for someone to replace four-year starter Taryn Christion at quarterback as they try to make it eight straight years in the FCS Playoffs.

On offense, former line coach Jason Eck takes over the play-calling duties after former offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness moved on to the same position at Northern Illinois.

His biggest challenge in 2019 is finding Christion's replacement among a quartet of players.

Junior Kanin Nelson was Christion's back-up for the past two seasons but has only thrown eight passes during that time.

Junior Kurt Walding is a transfer from Arizona State. He completed five passes for 55 yards in Saturday's (April 13) Spring game.

A pair of redshirt freshmen are also in the running for the starting job. J'Bore Gibbs threw for 148 yards and a score in the Spring game, while Matt Connors completed eight passes for 108 yards and ran for a touchdown.

When it comes to running the football, SDSU has plenty of talent back with senior Mikey Daniel and sophomores Pierre Strong Jr. and C.J. Wilson all returning.

There's plenty of depth at wide receiver with seniors Adam Anderson and Jacob Brown, junior Cade Johnson, and sophomore Deyon Campbell all back.

Up front, the Jacks were thin in the Spring due to injuries. They've got some holes to fill with the graduation of two starters. Tackle Evan Greenway center Wes Genant, and guard Eagan Lickiss all return.

Defensively, co-coordinators Jimmy Rogers and Brian Bergstrom take over for Clint Brown, who is now the defensive coordinator at Abilene Christian. Rogers was the linebackers coach with SDSU last season, Bergstrom was in charge of the safeties.

Up front, everyone is back including senior Krockett Krolikowski, who missed action at the end of last season with an injury. He's joined on the line by seniors Austin Smenda, Spencer Hildahl, and Ryan Earith, and junior Xavier Ward.

The linebackers are anchored by senior Christian Rozeboom and junior Logan Backhaus. The Jacks will need to find a replacement for Dalton Cox, who graduated in May.

SDSU graduated three players from the secondary but will return seniors Marshon Harris, Zy Mosely, and Larenzo Williams, who have all seen playing time in the past.

The placekicking duties are in good hands with senior Chase Vinatieri, while sophomore Ben Dinkel is expected to take over the punting duties after the graduation of Brady Hale.

Here's my conversation with South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier about his assessment of Spring camp:

The Jackrabbits' season kicks off in Minneapolis, Thursday, August 29, with a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

2019 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

  • August 29 - at Minnesota
  • September 7 - LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY (Dairy Drive)
  • September 14 - at Drake
  • September 21 - SOUTHERN UTAH (Beef Bowl)
  • October 5 - SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Hobo Day)
  • October 12 - at Youngstown State
  • October 19 - at Indiana State
  • October 26 - NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Dakota Marker/Hall of Fame Game)
  • November 2 - at Missouri State
  • November 9 - ILLINOIS STATE (Military Appreciation)
  • November 16 - NORTHERN IOWA (Precision Ag Bowl/Senior Day)
  • November 23 - at South Dakota

The 12-game regular season is SDSU's longest in five years.


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