South Dakota State Football: 2018 Recap
The final chapter of South Dakota State's football season may have been one of disappointment, but there were plenty of positives for the Jackrabbits in 2018.
SDSU (10-3) posted back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins for the first time in school history and made it to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the second straight year.
The Jacks' run of seven straight postseason appearances is among the best the nation.
All pretty impressive accomplishments for a team that had the daunting task of replacing offensive threats Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke catching the football and overcoming a slew of injuries on both sides of the football during the season.
Statistically, the South Dakota State offense hardly skipped a beat, finishing fifth in the nation in scoring (43 points per game) and tenth in total offense (481 yards per game).
Individually, quarterback Taryn Christion finished his career as the all-time leader at the position in Brookings. The senior was tied for third in FCS with 32 touchdown passes, sixth in the nation in passing efficiency.
Wide receiver Cade Johnson emerged as one of the top threats in the country, tying for the FCS lead with 17 touchdown catches and finishing fourth in receiving yards (1,332).
The Jackrabbits running game found an unlikely leader. Redshirt freshman Pierre Strong Jr., listed as third on the depth chart when the season began, was pressed into duty because of injuries at the position and he responded with 1,116 yards - 916 of those coming in SDSU's final six games.
All of that offensive firepower was no match for top-seeded North Dakota State, who ended SDSU's season, 44-21, in the semifinals.
Bison quarterback Easton Stick led the NDSU attack with 169 yards and a touchdown passing and another 147 yards and three scores rushing.
The loss left South Dakota thinking ahead to 2019.
The Jacks return the vast majority of their offensive weapons but must find a replacement for Christion at quarterback.
Defensively SDSU has plenty of returning talent in the front seven but has some big holes to fill in the secondary.
I talked with SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier about the North Dakota State loss, the 2018 season and what's in store for the Jackrabbits in 2019: