Do the SDSU Jackrabbits Make Your Palms Sweat?

Photo: Joe Maiorana - USA TODAY Sports
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The Gophers open their 2019 season tonight vs. the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and Minnesota Sports Fan will be here, there (TCF Bank Stadium), and everywhere from now until the final moments of the postgame presser (and everything in-between). We have tons of coverage planned and it will come in all forms. We’ll have video, photo, and written content all day/night, and into tomorrow morning. Make sure you’re following all of our social medias (top-right corner of page) so you don’t miss a damn thing!

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Let’s start the day with our opponent. Is South Dakota State a threat?

They shouldn’t be… I know that’s not a good answer but it’s the best one I have, for the 3rd-ranked FCS team in the country. After really digging into their roster and researching some of their 2019 expectations, I do feel like the Gophers should run away with this game at some point, but there are some trip-wires to be cognizant of, when you play an FCS team of this caliber.

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The New QB on the Block |

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J’Bore Gibbs is a Redshirt Freshman QB who has big shoes to fill. He replaces a 3.5-year starter in Taryn Christion, who owns just about every passing record at SDSU. He is currently in camp with the Dallas Cowboys but won’t make the roster.

Gibbs can run but, from his HS stats, prefers to pass. PJ Fleck and Joe Rossi are definitely worried about the unknowns that come with a new QB but if the Gophers can stop the dangerous SDSU running game, I don’t think Gibbs will be able to stretch the field enough, through the air, to be successful.

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| Lots of Weapons at RB and WR but Plenty of Holes in OL |

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Gibbs has a lot of weapons to help with his inexperience. SDSU will play 3 running backs and they can all ball. Pierre Strong was Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year in a 2018 where he racked up over 1100 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, talented and reliable would be undervaluing their top-two wide receivers Cade Johnson and Adam Anderson. Cade Johnson is the most formidable threat, and the one with the most home run potential. He went for over 1300 yards last year and 17 touchdowns in 2018 and is on the preseason “Payton Award” (Offensive POY) watch list.

While the Jackrabbits’ skill positions are stacked for FCS standards, it’ll be interesting to see how much time and space their less-formidable offensive line can give them. The LT, Evan Greeneway is their only returning full-time starter but both guards started half of last season and their new(ish) center, Matt Clark, started in 2016; before being kicked off of the team for 2 seasons.

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| SDSU Defense: Know Where #2 is at all Times |

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It is impossible to avoid LB, Christian Rozeboom when doing research on the SDSU defense. He’s a monster. They say he is big, fast, strong, and usually the hardest working guy on the field.

Rozeboom has had over 100 tackles in all 3 of his previous seasons, already marking him 4th all-time at SDSU, in that category. He is a 2-time FCS All-American and on the 2019 “Buchanan Award” watch list for Defensive POY. Kirk Ciarrocca will always have #2 accounted for. But for a guy who has NFL aspirations, this is a major game where he has a chance to put good film up against a Big Ten school.

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| Is it Gametime yet? |

After doing the pregame work, this should be a fun little test for the Gophers. If our defensive line is going to be effective in Big Ten play, the OL of SDSU shouldn’t stand much of a chance. That should pose a huge problem for a RSFR QB that needs to rely on a steady run game to feel comfortable in this type of environment.

Offensively, the Gophers OL should look massive compared to the SDSU front-7 but the Jackrabbits have a ton of experience at those positions, where they return 6 starters (including Rozeboom) and have experienced players that go double-digits-deep.

All of the experience up-front for SDSU won’t make up for how green they are at DB, though. They’re dealing with 3 new starters + 2 injuries so we could see MASSIVE games from Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman…

This is a really good game for Tanner Morgan to get Gopher fans excited about what he can provide this season as a (RS)SO, compared to last.

It’s going to be a fun day, fam. Hang out with us for all of it!

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports fan

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