Bearcats eager to face Gorillas
Allen, Bearcats relish the opportunity
Trent Johnson | Sports Writer
The home opener for Pittsburg State last Saturday was not as easy as expected; with another mediocre opponent awaiting them this Saturday, the Gorilla faithful will expect a blowout win.
Playing in front of the second-largest crowd in school history, the Gorillas had high expectations for their first game of the season at Carnie Smith Stadium. The parking lot was buzzing with the Pitt State faithful, beginning hours before the game and continuing all day long.
The Gorillas left Carnie Smith Stadium with a W, bringing their record to 2-0. However, the Gorilla offense may have put up huge numbers, but it never seemed to click. The defense stepped up throughout the game, and it was the driving force for the Gorillas for most of the night.
The Gorillas will hit the road on Saturday for the second time this season, when they head to Bolivar, Mo. to take on the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats. Again, on paper, this should be a fairly easy game for the Gorillas. It doesn’t mean the game isn’t important. The Gorillas shouldn’t take the Bearcats lightly because the Bearcats are ready for them.
“Everybody wants to play the best team in the nation, and this is the best team in the nation. So what are you going to do with the opportunity to play the best, what are you going to do,” said Keith Allen, SBU head coach. “That’s how we’ve addressed it.”
Remember, the Gorillas needed late heroics from Zac Dickey to beat an easy Truman State team in the third game last season. Nonetheless, the Gorillas should leave Bolivar with a win.
It is always said that defense wins ball games. For SBU, if there is any part of the team that Allen is comfortable with, it is the defensive front.
“D-line wise, I think we’ve been stepping up and the d-line’s been doing a really good job,” Allen said. “Secondary, we’ve given up some big plays. It’s not a schematic deal, it’s just one kid getting his eyes in the wrong spot and giving up a big play.”
This week it will be interesting to see how the offense will attack the Southwest Baptist defense. Yardage should not be a problem; the Bearcats are giving up more than 350 total yards per game, and PSU quarterback Anthony Abenoja has more than 650 passing yards in his first two starts for the Gorillas. Abenoja also looked more comfortable running the ball out of the zone read last week. However, the Gorillas may be without backup running back Jeff Seybold after he suffered a left ankle injury in Saturday’s win. That means we may see more of Solomon Watkins, who is coming off an injury from last season. Abenoja and the offense shouldn’t have much trouble sustaining drives and keeping the Bearcats defense on the field, and they should be able to score often this weekend.
The Gorillas defense gave up 336 yards on Saturday, but they made huge plays when they needed to, sacking the quarterback three times and forcing two turnovers. Overall, the defense has played well this season, but they still need to improve a few things in the upcoming games. Getting pressure on the quarterback in third-and-long situations would be beneficial. The third down pass would most likely improve with some slightly better cornerback play. With the departure of Elijah Olabode, the team is still looking for that number one guy, which could prove costly against team that is confident about its receivers.
“Oh I feel like when they play they can be one of the best out there. When they play together, they do their jobs and they execute at a high level, then I feel talentwise that we’ve got some really, really good talent at the wide out position,” Allen said.
Playing a team that has only three offensive touchdowns in two games will be a great opportunity for the coaches to get a better idea of which packages work and which ones don’t.
Saturday’s kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the Gorillas look to stay perfect, and keep their six-game road-winning streak alive.