BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — SDSU is picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, stands third in the FCS preseason poll, and hopes a shakeup on defense will help vault the Jackrabbits to number one.
SDSU has turned up the volume on defense in recent seasons.
“I think it starts with the coaches and just the tradition that we have here. It’s a tradition of success and not expecting that, but working for it every year,” SDSU senior LB Christian Rozeboom said.
The Jackrabbits finished top-4 in the Valley in interceptions, sacks, and scoring defense last season, but lost defensive coordinator Clint Brown to Abilene Christian. SDSU filled the vacancy by promoting Jimmy Rogers and Brian Bergstrom to co-defensive coordinators.
“How’s it going? It’s been phenomenal. I think our defense is an confident as it’s ever been. They’ve put more stuff in than we’ve ever have and our guys are mastering it, so I’m excited about that side of the ball,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said.
“Established what we’ve wanted to defensively and I think we’ve done a really good job of sticking in what we wanted to do and then putting the game plan together. Our players have really taken it and done a really good job,” SDSU co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Rogers said.
Adjustments to the playbook have been minor, but fans may see a slight change in style of play.
“I would say being just a little more aggressive, but it’s been good. We’re having fun putting in some new stuff and we’ll see how it works,” Rozeboom said.
“Some things are the same and some things are a little bit more aggressive, different looks, so you’ll see our defense being in attacking mode more and get off the ball and play aggressive-style defense,” Rogers said.
The Jacks plan to be championship contenders, and Rogers says the defense is eager to do its part.
“Our job is to do our job and that’s to dominate our opponent and play physical defense and get off the field on third down,” Rogers said.
SDSU opens the regular season Thursday, August 29th at Minnesota. Kickoff is set for 8:00 at TCF Bank Stadium.