SIOUX FALLS vs. ST. CLOUD STATE
Game time: 7 p.m. Thursday
Stadium: Husky Stadium (4,198)
Series: First meeting.
Radio: 1450-AM KNSI
Coaches: USF (Jed Stugart, 18-5); SCSU (Scott Underwood, 33-14)
2011 records: USF 5-4; SCSU 9-3
SCSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR PRAISES DEFENSIVE END
St. Cloud State defensive coordinator Jim Louis admits to being surprised by a few players during the course of fall camp.
But a junior defensive lineman has stood out more than most. Chris Hansen will start at STUD defensive end for the Huskies in their season opener against the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Hansen got the starting job when sophomore Bo Putrah went down with an arm injury. Putrah won’t play against the Cougars, who will be making their Division II and NSIC debut Thursday.
“Chris Hansen is a guy who came in on a small scholarship. He was a linebacker (at Tracy-Milroy-Balaton High School),” Louis said. “He moved to the D-line in his first fall camp. He was undersized, but worked really hard. He’s played for us in small roles, but I’m telling you, he looks good right now. Bo’s starting spot was already in jeopardy before he got hurt. I expect Chris to play 45-50 snaps each game.”
Hansen will be joined up front by senior defensive tackle Chris Rupe, junior nose guard Jared Cross and sophomore defensive end Jeff Bias. Redshirt freshman Nick Goldsmith and sophomore Luke Sebald will also see plenty of time inside while sophomore Aaron Pavek will back up Hansen and redshirt freshman Villamu Sioka Latu will back up Bias.
“We have a lot of depth on the line,” Louis said. “We graduated five guys, but we have a solid two-deep of guys who can play. They got a lot of playing due to injuries at the end of last year.”
Louis is also excited about the team’s linebackers and secondary players. Mark Martin and Todd Bestgen are slated to start at linebacker while Brad Wignes will get the nod at the Zombie linebacker spot. The Zombie is basically a secondary position. Junior Miky Woods will also see plenty of time at the Zombie. Thomas Johnson and Tate Christopherson are providing depth behind Martin and Bestgen.
Martin has been playing most at weakside linebacker while Bestgen has been getting reps at the middle spot.
In the secondary, junior Eric Poggenburg will start at free safety and sophomore Kyle Risinger will start at the boundary safety. Senior All-American Marvin Matthews and junior Jack Moro will get the nod at the cornerbacks with redshirt freshman Jordan Sefon, sophomore Jarek Kunz and redshirt freshman Bobby Wills providing depth.
“Everyone in the DB unit played last year, along with those guys at linebacker,” Louis said. “We feel good about the way we’ve looked on defense. We have the same expectations that we had last year with the crew that’s going out there.”
Louis knows his defense will be tested against Sioux Falls, which brings back senior quarterback Taylor Perkins, senior running backs Jordan Taylor and Kristian Porter and wide receiver Jeremiah Oates.
Perkins played in six games last year and threw for 11 touchdowns and three picks. Taylor rushed for 677 yards and four touchdowns and Oates had 26 catches and nine touchdowns. Porter missed last season with an injury, but rushed for 644 yards in 2009.
“They’re very good. They should’ve beat North Dakota in their last game last year,” Louis said. “They’re physical, well-coached and and play well on special teams. We keep reminding our guys that they have to be ready to go. They’ll come in here with a chip on their shoulders. Sioux Falls wants to show that it belongs. They’re going to want to prove it against a team that is ranked high in the NSIC and the nation. Our job is to get the guys ready for that.”
USF COACH HIGH ON THE HUSKIES
Sioux Falls head coach Jed Stugart is entering his third season with the Cougars. He’s compiled an impressive 18-5 record in his first two seasons, including a 5-4 mark last year in a transition year. Sioux Falls lost in the NAIA national championship game in 2010 during Stugart’s first season.
Stugart’s happy his team is opening against St. Cloud State, a team that was picked to finish second in the NSIC and is ranked 16th in the AFCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll.
“I want to go against the best and I want to find out where we’re at to get a gauge of how tough these opponents are going to be,” Stugart said. “I know (SCSU head coach) Scott Underwood coached here and he has respect for our program. St. Cloud will not overlook us. That’s exciting. We have to improve if we really want to be champions and winners. I like how tough our schedule is.”
Stugart has been impressed with SCSU junior quarterback Phillip Klaphake on film.
“He’s consistent. Any time you have a seasoned player like that who is athletic and accurate, obviously it makes it tough,” Stugart said. “He really manages that offense.”
- SCSU sophomore linebacker Matt Boerner left the team earlier in camp due to a reoccurring neck injury. Boerner is from Hartland, Wis.
- Stugart said safeties Robert Virgil (five interceptions last season) and Michael Frericks could be two of the best in the NSIC. “They are impact players,” Stugart said. “They’ll make it tough for teams to throw on us.”
- Underwood is hoping his more inexperienced players will be ready to play under the lights of Husky Stadium. “I know some of our young guys will make mistakes,” he said. “We have to play hard and hope that our offense, defense and special teams can carry the load. It’s a great challenge. I expect Sioux Falls to come in here with extra motivation. Every time they played in a big game last year, they rose to the occasion. They should’ve won one or two more games.”
- This is the Huskies’ first season-opening game at home since 2009 when they lost to Augustana.
- Porter enters the game just 15 yards shy of the 1,500 career yard mark.
- Sioux Falls blocked a school record seven kicks last season.