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Morning Sun
  • Gorillas off bye to face Central Missouri

  • By popular wisdom, bye weeks either a) derail forward momentum and make teams more or less start all over again or b) allow teams extra practice, scouting and healing time before their next game.



    Top-ranked Pittsburg State (4-0, 4-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) enjoyed its bye week last week as the other 14 teams in the conference played each other.

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  • By popular wisdom, bye weeks either a) derail forward momentum and make teams more or less start all over again or b) allow teams extra practice, scouting and healing time before their next game.
    Top-ranked Pittsburg State (4-0, 4-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) enjoyed its bye week last week as the other 14 teams in the conference played each other.
    “It seems like a long time but it’s really not that long,” Pitt State head coach Tim Beck said. “Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we practiced. Brought our offense back in Saturday just to try and keep some timing things going. We don’t want to have too much time between when we practice between Thursday and Sunday. We want to give them Sunday afternoon, give our players Monday afternoon off and then back to a normal routine. One thing about it is that we had some extra practices, so instead of going full pads on Monday and Tuesday this week, we just went full pads on Tuesday and helmets and shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday, which is not a real big deal but to the players sometimes that is because it feels like maybe they have a chance to get their legs under them a little bit better.”
    “I think we took advantage of it,” senior running back Briceton Wilson said. “Honestly, it was a bye week for us but we worked just as hard as we would if we were making preparation for our game. We came in on Saturday, the offense did, and we went a full practice to get our timing down.”
    “Coaches did a good job of kind of getting our legs back underneath us,” junior linebacker Nate Dreiling said. “Those four games in a row kind of wear down on you a little bit so we got a couple days off, which is nice. It’s always nice to have an extra week to prepare for a team. They had another opponent that they’ve been looking at so we got four or five practices to up them on. Hopefully, we’ll find out whether we used that time wisely or not.”
    Central Missouri (4-1, 4-1 MIAA) comes into the jungle today and presents the Gorillas with their strongest competition so far this season after games against Northeastern State, Central Oklahoma, Southwest Baptist and Lincoln.
    After playing four teams with losing records, now comes a six-game stretch against Central Missouri, Northwest Missouri, Missouri Western, Truman State, Lindenwood and Missouri Southern — all teams which currently have winning records — to finish the 10-game regular season.
    “We can’t worry about anything but Central Missouri right now,” Beck said. “Central Missouri lost the first game (against Missouri Western, 38-26) but other than that, they’re kind of on a roll and feeling good about how they’re doing. I think it’s going to be a great football game.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Offensively, the Mules feature strong-armed quarterback Colter Smith (listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds — Philpot size — from Ben Lomond High School in Odgen, Utah), running back LaVance Taylor and receiver Ronrei Lloyd, standouts among several contributors.
    Smith has thrown for 1,381 yards and 11 touchdowns on 120 of 185 passing, Taylor has rushed for 441 yards and six TDs on 79 carries and caught 17 passes for 167 yards and one TD, and Lloyd leads Central with 29 catches for 475 yards and four TDs.
    “He (Smith) throws the ball about as hard as anybody we’ve seen in a long time,” Beck said. “He can really throw the football. Obviously, against Truman, he threw four interceptions (nine on the season) but I’m not for sure all those were his fault. Man, he can really throw it hard and he spreads the ball around well and when he makes the decision where he’s going to go with it, he gets it there in a hurry. He’s definitely a good player, a big kid.
    “LaVance Taylor’s the guy though, whether he’s running it or catching it out of the backfield, he’s very dangerous. He scored on a fairly long run (77 yards) against us last year and had a nice little swing pass against Northwest Missouri that went 60-plus yards, probably for a touchdown. He’s a really fast player.”
    Despite the attention paid to the explosive Central Missouri offense, its defense features several dangerous players of its own. Senior defensive end Latavious Davis, senior linebacker Joe Carter and senior defensive back Patrick Lewis are three key Mule defenders.
    “Their defensive line’s good, fast and of course, Latavious Davis is a great pass rusher,” Beck said. “I think Joe Carter’s a really good football player as well, he’s one of their linebackers and you look at him as a linebacker but he plays out in space a lot. Central Missouri’s always been known for running to the ball defensively. They’ve always been that way. I think there’s no question they run to the ball better than they did a year ago, maybe even two years ago. They can get there in a hurry, very skilled, very fast and physical. When you put those things together, it makes for a good defense.”
    Davis leads the MIAA with 6.0 quarterback sacks (-44 yards) and 8.5 of his 19 total tackles have resulted in a loss. His statistics include two pass deflections and five forced fumbles. Carter and Lewis share the team lead with 37 tackles and Carter adds an interception to his accomplishments. Kadarius Green leads with two interceptions and four pass breakups.
    The battle upfront will be key today.
    “Yeah, no doubt, it’s the same thing every week,” Beck said. “You’ve got to be good upfront and we haven’t been spectacular upfront yet. We’ve had some moments but we haven’t been as consistent as we’d like to be and we’ve got to get off to a good start and we’ve got to be able to run when they think we’re going to throw it and throw it when they think we’re going to run it and keep them off-balance a little bit, keep them guessing a little bit. Their offense will be trying to do the same thing. Offensive-defensive line’s always a key and no doubt it will be that way this week.”
    Page 3 of 3 - The Gorillas have outscored their opponents 186-65 and defensive leaders include Dreiling (27 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and three pass breakups), junior safety Keeston Terry (22 tackles, 1.0 sacks and two interceptions), senior defensive end Gus Toca (22 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks and one forced fumble) and sophomore linebacker Tyler Disney (21 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, one breakup), a converted d-back.
    Offensively, sophomore quarterback Anthony Abenoja has passed for over 1,000 yards (1,049) and seven touchdowns on 69 of 101 passing (68.3 completion percentage).
    Wilson leads Pitt State with 225 rushing yards and six TDs on 34 carries, averaging nearly seven yards per carry and one TD every 5.7 carries.
    John Brown leads with 22 receptions for 386 yards and three TDs; Brown needs 70 receiving yards to become No. 3 on the PSU all-time receiving yardage list, passing Jermaine Carpenter.
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