BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Though there’s been some moving parts, South Dakota State’s secondary has still found success, as they’ve played a big part in a defense that ranks in the top 15 nationally in scoring.
A year ago, the SDSU secondary was part of a defense that gave up just 15 points per game and seven passing touchdowns the entire season.
“I see a lot of glimpses of greatness. I think we’re building coming off of last season, we’re improving kind of where we lacked from last season. I think we’re a more physical group,” SDSU senior safety Michael Griffin II said.
The scheme has remained the same but the personnel is a bit different. The 6’1 200 pound junior Isaiah Stalbird has made the permanent switch from safety to SAM linebacker.
“When you’re learning a position in the back-end, you’re really learning what’s going on in front of you at the same time, and we had a need at the end of the year that he could fill and he did a great job with it,” SDSU Co-Defensive coordinator Brian Bergstrom said.
But more adjustments would be coming. Senior star cornerback Don Gardner would sustain a serious injury week 3 against Indiana State.
“He actually played hurt at the end of the half. They asked him if he was okay and he was like ‘I’m good’, you just know how competitive Don is, he wont come out. He has to break something off the bone,” Senior cornerback Dyshawn Gales said.
With Gardner out for an extended period of time, Gales and Malik Lofton have seen their roles increase.
“Don’s still a great leader to the group, but when they’re out on the field they’ve stepped up in that way and Dalys Beanum and Steven Arrell are two guys that are “up and comers” that have seen their role elevate. But ultimately, the whole group has stepped up which needs to happen,” Bergstrom said.
And they’ve done so behind the guide of Michael Griffin II.
“Griff’s an awesome person first and foremost. And it’s fun to see him and be around him as a leader, and just his maturity, and then you combine that with great football instincts and ability and some pretty special genetic ability. Just “physical-ness”, he’s a special one,” Bergstrom said.
SDSU will look to get back in the win column this Saturday as they visit Western Illinois. Kickoff is set for noon.