SW Minnesota State's Sauter not afraid to ride his horse

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2013 - 7:11 AM

Southwest Minnesota State running back Tyler Tonderum

Photo: photo courtesy Southwest Minnesota State University

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Former Gophers quarterback Cory Sauter is the head football coach at Division II Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. Those who watched Sauter’s aerial assault under Jim Wacker, then watched a painful transition to an option offense in Glen Mason’s first year, might never guess it, but Sauter has one of the nation’s leading rushers on his team this year.

“Being a big-time quarterback, he likes to throw the ball,” said SMSU junior running back Tyler Tonderum. “But he also knows that in order to make the pass game easier, you have to establish the run.”

Tonderum has more than established it. After getting just one carry last season while playing behind talented seniors, Tonderum has 1,979 yards rushing this season — third in the country at all levels of NCAA football. His exploits, while running behind an offensive line full of five senior starters, have helped the Mustangs to a 7-4 record and their first berth ever in the Mineral Water Bowl. Tonderum is the first player in SMSU history to be named a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, given to nation’s top D-II player.

“It’s really been a huge surprise,” he said of his season and the team’s success.

The Mustangs run an up-tempo, Oregon-style offense that still includes plenty of passing (more than 3,000 yards this season). But Tonderum averages nearly 29 carries a game, a number boosted by his 50-carry performance (for 282 yards) in a 52-48 victory over Upper Iowa last month.

“Going into halftime, I was thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep this up,’” the 5-10, 191-pound Tonderum said. “But it was a tight game and the run game was there. I was tired but kept chugging.”

That philosophy served him well at Armstrong-Ringsted High in Iowa, just south of the Minnesota border. He played 8-Man football and finished with 6,395 yards rushing — a state record for that level at the time, which was broken earlier this year.

“I had been around a lot of football, so it wasn’t so much the schemes,” Tonderum said. “But three more people out there — it was an interesting transition.”

Turns out it was just three more people who had a hard time stopping him.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question