COLLEGE FOOTBALL · Sat (5/8) @ 12:00 pm ET
|Canvas Stadium, Fort Collins, CO|
Keys for Delaware
Will the left shoulder injury suffered by starting QB Noah Henderson last week, have much if any effect on his play today ?
Henderson has completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions this season.
Will Delaware’s defense be as effective as it has been all season, in which it allowed just 11.7 points and 223 yards per game, while holding opposing rushers to 3.3 yards per carry.
“We make ourselves hard to beat,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “We haven’t had a lot of penalties and we’ve protected the ball and taken the ball away. We’re kind of a hard out for a good team to take control of. “We can have balance offensively. We can find a lot of ways to finish a game and we’re solid in special teams. … We’ve got good depth in a number of positions. That’s allowing us to be in this position.”
Keys for South Dakota State
SDSU is in the playoffs for the ninth straight season, and is trying to reach the FCS national title game for the first time. This is also the first time they are at home for a semifinal game.
Can the running game which averaged 238 yards per game be able to run against a defense that has excelled against the run.
How will the SDSU defense fair against the biggest offensive line they have faced this year. SDSU has the No. 19 ranked defense in the country. They give up 288 total yards and 118 yards rushing.
How will freshman QB QB Mark Gronowski perform in the biggest game of his career to date. Gronowski has averaged 67.5 yards on the ground while throwning for 1,387 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.
The over/under opened 35 and is up to 37.5.
Delaware got off to a fast start at Jacksonville State last week and basically controlled the game, winning 20-14.
A Jacksonville State touchdown with 41 seconds left made the score closer, but the Gamecocks were shut down offensively as Delaware won their first road playoff game in 14 years.
The defense was dominant again holding JSU to a season-low 200 yards of total offense, along with 5 sacks (by 5 different players), and 2 interceptions.
It did not help that JSU starting quarterback Zion Webb was lost to a leg injury late in the first quarter.
“I thought Delaware played a very solid game and I’ve got to take my hat off to their quarterback. He played a good game and made good decisions. He was very accurate with the football.” said JSU Head Coach John Grass of Redshirt junior quarterback Nolan Henderson who was 18-of-28, throwing for 239 yards.
Delaware jumped out to a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter with scoring drives of 75 and 89 yards.
Delaware dominated time of possession 38:25-21:35
A negative was Delaware finished with only 108 rushing yards on 48 carries ( 2.3 ypa )
Starting QB Noah Henderson played the second half despite suffering an injury to his left shoulder. He’s expected to play Saturday but may be limited in practice this week.
Starting center Mickey Henry missed half the game with a back problem that had been bothering him lately. He was ably replaced by James Prince, a transfer from Howard U.
South Dakota State had to overcome a 13-point 2nd quarter deficit to overtake No. 14 Southern Illinois 31-26. The same SIU team that the Jackrabbits embarrassed at SIU 44-3 back on March 20.
Starting with a field goal at the end of the first half, SDSU scored 24 straight points including a 67-yard touchdown run by freshman QB Mark Gronowski to give the team its first lead at 24-20. Michael Griffin’s interception with 10 seconds to play sealed the win.
Gronowski finished the game 9-16 for 183 yards and two touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing with 155 yards on 13 carries, including the long TD run.
Gronowski finished as runner-up Monday in the balloting for the Stats Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award, honoring the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Fellow quarterback Cameron Ward of the University of Incarnate Word was named the award winner.
For the top-seeded Jackrabbits (7-1), this will be their third trip to the semifinals in the last four seasons, but the first to be played on their home field.