No bucking for the Bronchos
Trent Johnson | Collegio Sports Reporter
The Gorillas opened 2012 with a convincing 41-20 victory over the Northeastern State Riverhawks last Thursday, dominating the MIAA newcomers from Tahlequah, Okla., in virtually every aspect of the game.
This week will be the first of five games at Carnie Smith Stadium for the Gorillas, as they will face the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos. The last time these two teams met was the 2010 season opener. That game was a close one, but the Gorillas escaped Edmond with a 31-20 victory. The score this Saturday will not be that close.
If you picked up the season preview, then you saw that the Bronchos’ projected record is 1-9. They will not get that win this week. The Gorillas will impose their will early and often, and it should be over midway through the third quarter.
Last Thursday, the Gorillas’ offensive line made a good football team look average at best. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Abenoja set a school record with 378 passing yards, though he was quick to give credit to his teammates.
“It’s the weapons that we have out there, and our o-line can block for that long,” Abenoja said.
The offensive line also paved the way for the Pittsburg State rushing game to add 184 yards. All-American receiver and return man John Brown did his fair share, adding 270 all-purpose yards.
UCO is coming off a season-opening loss against Missouri Southern. The Bronchos nearly completed an 18-point comeback in the fourth quarter but they fell just short in the end. The offense struggled throughout the game’s entirety and had only 249 total yards. Nick Bobeck, first-year head coach, wasn’t entirely pleased with the way his team played.
“We made too many mistakes and didn’t do enough to win the ball game,” Bobeck said.
Saturday will be one of the toughest opponents the Bronchos will face all season. The Gorillas are bigger, faster and stronger and would be expected to win by several touchdowns. Pittsburg State’s offensive line shouldn’t have much of a problem winning the battle in the trenches. The Bronchos have no defensive lineman over 280 pounds so they will be physically overmatched against the Gorillas’ offensive line. This bodes well for the Gorillas’ rushing attack and should give Abenoja plenty of time to stand in the pocket and throw. Matching last week’s huge numbers won’t be out of reach for Abenoja and the offense.
The Gorillas’ defense shouldn’t have much of a problem, either. They have one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in the MIAA, and PSU should be able to wear down and frustrate Bronchos quarterback Adrian Nelson. The one spot the Gorillas need to improve is preventing big plays. The majority of the yards they gave up last week came on big plays.
Lastly, the Gorillas have one of the most dangerous special teams units in the nation. With Brown returning kicks and Tyler Disney as the X-factor on punt and kick coverage, the Gorillas will win the battle for field position the entire game.
The key Saturday will be simple: Don’t play to the level of your competition. Looking ahead shouldn’t be a concern for the Gorillas because they will face another historically weak opponent, Southwest Baptist, next week. In the end, look for the Gorillas to come away with a lopsided victory and look for the reserves to get plenty of valuable playing time.