The #9 ranked Cats (9-3) are in Brookings, South Dakota this weekend to take on #7 South Dakota State (8-3) in the second round of the FCS playoffs. ‘Nova beat St. Francis 31-21 at home last week to advance and face the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State, champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, received a bye into the second round. Kick-off is at 3:00 p.m. EST and the game can be watched on ESPN3 or listened to on 610 Sports (WTEL-AM). This is the first meeting between the two schools.
South Dakota State is ranked eighth among all FCS teams in both total offense (481.7) and passing offense (314.4). The Jackrabbits are led by sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion (3,369 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 8 interceptions. Christion has 385 rushing yards and leads South Dakota State with 6 rushing touchdowns. The Jackrabbit rushing attack is led by Brady Mengarelli (700 yds, 5.8 avg) and Isaac Wallace (519 yds, 6.3 avg) but the receiving corps is more lethal - featuring two players averaging over 100 yards per game - Jake Wieneke (109.5 per game, 16 TDs) and Dallas Goedert (104.2 , 10).
The Jackrabbit defense is led by Christian Rozeboom (107 tackles, 5.0 TFL, and 3.0 sacks) and Jesse Bobbit (95 tackles, 3.0 TFL, and 1.0 sacks).
- which dominant side will prevail - the Jackrabbit O or the Wildcat D?
- which non-dominant side will exceed expectations the Jackrabbit D or the Wildcat O?
- can the Cats put pressure on Taryn Christion (and contain his running) to relieve some the pressure on the Wildcat defensive backs?
- Will MVC COY, John Stiegelmeier out-scheme Andy Talley and his Assistants?
Here is what Villanova, Senior, linebacker, Austin Calitro had to say earlier this week about how his defense matches up with South Dakota State: “I watched film …and I noticed right away that they have a pretty big line and pretty big tackles on the edge. They are going to try to establish some kind of run game to get their tight end and their big wide receiver on the edge the ball but if we can take away their run game and make them one dimensional it will be a lot easier for us and Coach Crocker to call plays and run defend them”.
Coach Talley was asked how important it was that they get pressure on the Jackrabbit’s QB and had this to say: “South Dakota State really is a very very impressive football team when you take a look at the way they played against TCU and then their win against North Dakota St. They have some signature win in their program and are certainly one of the elite teams in the country. Their quarterback is probably the best quarterback that we have seen all year and he is difficult to put pressure on because he has great feet and can run. The problem that you have is if you pressure them he can take off and run and break you down and hurt you and he is a threat. He is really fast. He is a running threat that can really get down the field and he has a great arm. They have a package that is very similar to ours - a quarterback that can run and throw and they put immense pressure on you - on top of which their size is tremendous, they have division one size across the front. Very impressive team. We played a lot of teams during my stay here at Villanova and I would put them in the Top 2 or 3 in the country in terms of what we have had to face.”
Later, he was asked what team he would compare South Dakota St. with and responded “I would have to say that they would probably be the elite team. We played Pitt and Pitt was certainly very impressive and I would put them close to the Pitt category, seriously. JMU is really good - we were able to hold JMU down and if we had played a little better on offense it might have been a better game. But this team can run and throw and they have a great package and they play really good defense. So, it is as tough of an opponent as you could have and of course playing on South Dakota you are a long way from home.”