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South Dakota State University right tackle Trevor Greger (66) blocks a player during a college football game. Greger is a Wagner native. (Photo courtesy of SDSU media relations)

Wagner native Greger and SDSU O-line protect record-setting backfield

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Wagner native Greger and SDSU O-line protect record-setting backfield
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

WAGNER — Talk about Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner’s production on the football field is a frequent topic of discussion around South Dakota.

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South Dakota State University’s quarterback and running back have continued to rack up hundreds of yards this season, but they wouldn’t be able to do so without their offensive line.

“The line is the start,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We have a lot of veterans and they work really well together. They set the tone for the whole offense.”

The offensive line consists of senior left tackle Bryan Witzmann, senior left guard Alex Parker, senior center Taylor Suess, redshirt freshman Mike Shoff and junior right tackle Trevor Greger, a Wagner native.

Witzmann leads the group as a four-year starter. Greger has started in SDSU’s last 22 games with Parker seeing playing time in the last three seasons and Suess in his second year as the Jackrabbits’ starting center.

“It definitely helps out that we have a lot of veteran guys,” said Greger. “Bryan definitely sets the tone for the O line and has helped me throughout my time here. With this group, the chemistry is there.”

This season, the Jackrabbits (3-3) have racked up 930 rushing yards and 1,372 passing yards for 2,302 yards of total offense in six games. SDSU averages 383.7 yards per game this season.

The Jackrabbits have had the most success on the ground this season, scoring 13 of its 19 touchdowns that way. Zenner has crossed the 100-yard mark five times this season and has rushed for 858 yards and 12 touchdowns on 130 attempts.

Yet, SDSU’s passing game looks to be as strong as ever as Sumner broke the SDSU record for career passing yards (6,165) last week.

Greger said the line worked hard in the offseason to ensure offensive success, adding SDSU’s conditioning coaches instilled motivation in the players.

“They said the difference between national championship teams and teams on the bottom are fundamentals,” Greger said. “During spring ball, fall camp and up until now, we’ve spent time on fundamentals and it has helped us out, and I hope it continues.”

In getting plenty of playing time in the last three years, Greger has improved in more ways than one.

“Trevor’s surely gotten stronger over the years,” Stiegelmeier said. “His techniques improved tremendously and his confidence is high where he knows he can play that position and dominate at times. “I love Trevor. He’s very sincere and respectful. He’s hardworking and the picture of what you want in a student-athlete.”

After winning their first three games of the season, the Jackrabbits are in a three-game skid. Greger said all the team can do is approach the challenge ahead and try to be 1-0 this week. The Jackrabbits have lost their only two Missouri Valley Football Conference games this season, falling to North Dakota State and Southern Illinois.

SDSU, which is ranked No. 13 in the Sports Network Top 25 and No. 18 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week, travels to take on Western Illinois at 3 p.m. Saturday in Macomb, Ill., in another conference game.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.