2017 South Dakota State Preview: Offense
The 2017 football season is setting up to be something very special at South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits already have five straight FCS Playoff appearances under their belts - one of just four schools in the nation to accomplish that. Add to that, SDSU's first ever Missouri Valley Conference championship (shared with North Dakota State) last season, and there is a new level of enthusiasm surrounding the prospects of this team in 2017.
A lot of those expectations come on the offensive side of the ball, where the Jacks may have the most explosive unit in school history, and perhaps in all of the FCS.
Leading the way are a pair of senior All-Americans catching the football.
Tight end Dallas Goedert is coming off a school record 92 catches for nearly 1,300 yards last season. Wide receiver Jake Wieneke had his third straight 1,000 yard season in 2016.
With Goedert and Wieneke occupying the attention of opposing defenses, junior Alex Wilde and sophomores Adam Anderson, Jacob Brown, and Marquise Lewis are looking to provide quarterback Taryn Christion with additional targets in 2017.
Speaking of Christion, the junior enters the season as the reigning MVFC Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2016.
South Dakota State has depth running the football as well. Last season's leading rushers, senior Brady Mengarelli and junior Isaac Wallace, combined for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. Christion added another 335 yards on the ground and six rushing scores.
Sophomore Mikey Daniel is looking to bounce back form an injury that sidelined him for four games last season.
Up front, the veteran offensive line is anchored by senior center Jacob Ohnesorge, who achieved All-Conference status last season, his third straight as a starter.
Junior guards Matt Clark and Tiano Pupungatoa also return as starters.
At tackle, senior starter Charlie Harmon is back, while sophomore Wes Genant is expected to start at the other tackle.
South Dakota State's high octane offense will see its first action of 2017 in the season opener, Thursday, August 31, at home with Duquesne.
I talked with Taryn Christion about what we should expect from him and the Jackrabbit offense this season: