After loss, Jacks shift focus to playoffs

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KSFY) - The regular season ended for South Dakota State with a 24-21 loss at the University of South Dakota on Saturday.

It was the Coyotes' first win over the Jacks in the Division I era.

Sunday's announcement that SDSU would get the number seven seed and a first-round bye was a reminder of the ups and downs of playing the game.

"There was surely a disappointment from last night," said John Stiegelmeier, SDSU head coach. "But that's sports. That's how a game goes. You can have a tough play, if you play in the present, you can have the best play of your life the next play and so that's one of the cool things about sports and one of the tough about sports."

"You know we've gone thru a lot of adversity, there's no way around it," said Mikey Daniel, SDSU senior. "That's the testament to our team getting a top-eight seed. The committee had obviously seen that you know we're a lot better than our record shows."

The extra week off will give the Jacks time to heal in what's been an injury-filled year. Starting quarterback Keaton Heide is banged up. So is star-running back Pierre Strong, Jr. to name a few.

"You talk about the health, you talk about the mental rest of not grinding football another week," Stiegelmeier said. "The whole week you talk about two thanksgivings instead not one thanksgiving. You talk about being with your loved ones, all that stuff is important."

"There's a lot of guys that are thankful for a week off," said Christian Rozeboom, SDSU senior. "Get our bodies back. Get the opportunity to play here again."

"We're beat up right now, so the opportunity to go home and spend the time to spend with your family for Thanksgiving and then just getting some bodies back - depth is going to be big and we know that coming down the final stretch here," Daniel said.

The Jacks will host the winner of the first-round game between the University of San Diego and Northern Iowa University. SDSU just beat UNI at home 38-7 a little over two weeks ago.

"Yeah we'll prepare for both teams and we'll watch the game on Saturday and we'll see what happens," Stiegelmeier said. "There is confidence in knowing we've won against UNI but they're a good football program, a really, good football program. If they win, they'll be angry when they come up here."