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Jacks Look Ahead Without O'Brien

September 20, 2011, 10:05 PM by Jim Madalinsky

Jacks Look Ahead Without O'Brien
BROOKINGS, SD - The past 4 days haven't exactly gone as planned for the South Dakota State University Jacks. After a loss to Cal Poly Saturday, SDSU spent most of Sunday stuck at the airport in Minneapolis, then Monday brought the biggest blow as third-year starting quarterback Thomas O'Brien decided to quit the team.

"Seeing Thomas leave was shocking to all of us but he went on his own path. He made a decision and stuck to it," SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner said.

O'Brien struggled in the early season, tossing five touchdown passes and seven interceptions in the team's first three games.  But head coach John Stiegelmeier says the signal caller's job wasn't in jeopardy.

"We weren't planning on making a change. Our guys compete everyday and I know for you guys always asking who's going to be the starting quarterback. That was Thomas O'Brien," Stiegelmeier said.

With O'Brien out, redshirt freshmen and former Brandon Valley standout Austin Sumner has been named starter for this weekend's game at Illinois State.

"Thomas, he's not here right now but our players tand behind him in his decisions but Austin's been named the starter so we're going to rally around him and so we still have confidence and fully plan to go out Saturday and get a win," senior wide receiver  Dale Moss said.

"His success will be more on his ability to handle the mental part of the game rather than his arm strength and I think he'll be fine," Stiegelmeier said.

For Sumner, the opporunity may be a little sooner than he expected, but he doesn't plan on letting it slip away anytime soon.

"I've dreamt about playing college football since I was a little guy.  So, I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity and do the best I can," Sumner said.

While the news was a shock to the system for the Jacks, the conference schedule is upon them, meaning there's no time to worry about who is or isn't walking through the door.

"I really do feel that everyone is going to come out with more intensity. There have been distractions and some people can use it to make excuses but we're going to use it to make us better," Moss said.

"I see football as good medicine for tests, for girlfriend problems, anything that goes on and football is so intense that you can't play in the past. You have to move on and our guys do a good job of that," Stiegelmeier said.

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