McFeely: USD has Superman Streveler and little else in loss to Bison
It's too bad Chris Streveler couldn't play defense for South Dakota. The Coyotes might've had a chance against North Dakota State if that was the case. As it was, USD tackled as if the Bison had the Zika virus, leaving their head coach disgusted and accomplishing the near-impossible task of making the long bus ride back to Vermillion even longer.
Streveler did a lot of things for the Coyotes on Saturday at the Fargodome, including running and passing and probably filling water bottles and making sandwiches, but even a Superman performance from the senior quarterback wasn't nearly enough. The Bison won 49-14 to calm the masses after a loss to South Dakota State last week.
"He's pretty unique," USD coach Bob Nielson said. "I've had some awfully good players over the years. I feel bad. We had a handful of guys that left it out there and he was certainly one of them. We just didn't have enough today."
If last week's turnover-fest in Brookings had Bison fans nervous this season was going to crumble into a pile of ashes, the beatdown of Coyotes should've served as a salve. NDSU quarterback Easton Stick was near-perfect and the Bison ran the ball like crazy, just like the good old days of a month ago. Let the Frisco Train start chugging again.
There wasn't much good to report for USD, a team that was once the surprise darling of the Football Championship Subdivision but is now fighting for a spot in the playoffs with one week left in the regular season. About the only positive was Streveler, perhaps the closest thing you'll get to a one-man team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Without the benefit of NFL-level receivers like those who play with quarterback Taryn Christion for the SDSU—or much of an offensive line—Streveler accounted for 325 of USD's 419 offensive yards. He was his team's leading rusher with 93 yards and he completed 30 of 47 passes for 232 yards.
He escaped pressure, he found receivers on the run, he extended plays with his feet, he plowed ahead for extra yards and he scraped himself off the artificial turf more often than he should have. It never occurred Nielson to take his franchise player out of the game in the fourth quarter, even after the score was far out of reach.
"You talk about a most valuable player to a football team, even when it was 42 or 49-14 you always thought they had a chance because of what he can do," Bison coach Chris Klieman said.
Streveler made the 18,623 fans inside the dome nervous on the game's first possession. He sprinted for 10 yards on a third-and-7 on the game's third play and finished off the drive nine plays later on third-and-13 by escaping pressure and running 19 yards for a touchdown. The Coyotes were up 7-0 and the Bison defense that couldn't get off the field last week against the Jackrabbits was back on its heels again.
There were more flashes from Streveler over the course of the afternoon. He's fun to watch. He has the demeanor of kid playing football in the backyard, casually dropping back and running around as needed to make a play.
Streveler's value can be summed up by a play he made with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Bison defensive end Stanley Jones broke free on a pass rush and got both his hands on the quarterback. But Streveler shook off the tackle and sprinted around left end for 17 yards.
"He's a really an athletic quarterback, probably one of the more aggressive quarterbacks, too," Bison cornerback Tre Dempsey said. "Most quarterbacks just want to slide when you get a hand on them, he wants to outrun you or run your over. Last year was the same way. We were whacking him and he's like a running back, he don't care. He hopped right up."
The problem for USD was that Streveler was limited to playing quarterback. Defensively, the Coyotes couldn't tackle and, in Nielson's mind, didn't put much effort into it. NDSU ended up with 647 yards of offense. That's the type of number the Coyotes were putting up earlier in the season.
"I think Chris Streveler played a heck of a game today," Nielson said. "He didn't get a lot of help. He made plays with his feet, he stood in the pocket against a lot of pressure. ... I don't think there's better competitor in FCS football than Chris Streveler and I think he showed that today."
Unfortunately, even Superman has limits. The scoreboard showed that.