2019 South Dakota State Preview: Offense
Over the past seven seasons, a high powered offensive attack has propelled South Dakota State into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Jackrabbits are one of just two squads in the nation with a current postseason streak of that length (North Dakota State is the other).
In 2019, the Jackrabbits have more than enough weapons to make an eighth straight playoff run and try to move past the semifinals where the past two seasons have ended.
The strength of the offense is one of the key reasons why SDSU is picked third in the FCS media preseason poll.
Anchoring the offense is junior wide receiver Cade Johnson who is coming off of an All-American season with 67 catches for 1,332 yards and 17 touchdowns (tied for FCS best) in 2018.
Johnson says his game is still evolving as he heads into his third season in Brookings:
Things will look a bit different for the Jackrabbits on offense in 2019.
First, there's a new play-caller. Offensive line coach Jason Eck has added offensive coordinator duties to his title and Johnson says the new OC isn't breaking the mold but seems more willing to take chances:
The biggest question mark for the SDSU offense in 2019 comes at quarterback.
Junior Kanin Nelson is the only player with college experience, completing six passes last season, but the job of replacing Taryn Christion will fall on the arm of J'Bore Gibbs. The redshirt freshman from Chicago spent last season learning from Christion after passing for more than 2,000 yards and running for more than 600 yards during his senior year in high school.
Redshirt freshman Matt Connors will also get some snaps in practice.
Johnson likes what he sees from the quarterbacks so far:
The Jackrabbits are loaded at the rest of the skill positions.
Joining Johnson at wide receiver are seniors Adam Anderson who caught 47 passes for 718 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018 and Jacob Brown who caught a trio of touchdown passes last season.
Johnson says this is a confident group:
That depth extends to running back where the Missouri Valley's 2018 freshman of the year Pierre Strong Jr. is back for his sophomore season after becoming SDSU's first one thousand-yard rusher (1,116 yards) in four seasons.
He's joined by senior Mikey Daniel, who gained 630 yards, and sophomore CJ Wilson, who added 281 yards on the ground in 2018.
Johnson is excited about the explosiveness of this group:
Up front, the Jackrabbits welcome back starter Evan Greenway and part-time starters Eagan Lickiss, Eddie Miller, and Aron Johnson.
Senior center Matt Clark, a 13-game starter in 2016, will return for his first snaps in three seasons.
SDSU will be without injured senior Wes Genant to start the season.
Johnson says despite being past of the most successful years of South Dakota State football, he, and his teammates are still longing for more:
The Jackrabbits open the season August 29 at Minnesota.