No. 14 Gorillas host Southwest Baptist
Michael Bauer | sports editor
The Pittsburg State Gorillas may have never lost to the Southwest Baptist Bearcats before, but Tim Beck says his team will not be overlooking their foes in this week’s home game.
“The big thing is trying to stress to the kids is not to worry about the opponent as much,” said Beck, football head coach, “worry about us improving during practice.”
Potential-upset factors lined up
The Bearcats are entering the contest with a 0-2 record while the Gorillas remain undefeated.
From the outside, SBU may look overmatched, as the Gorillas crushed them, 52-9, last year.
But, their record is not as bad as it may seem. They fought hard in both of their losses.
Last week’s comeback-cut-short loss to Lindenwood, 35-27, was to a team which upset Pitt State at home last year, 44-33.
The dangerous aspect of that fact is enhanced by SBU’s new head coach, Craig Schuler. He helmed Lindenwood’s offense as coordinator when his team checked the Gorillas at Carnie Smith on Nov. 3, 2012.
In their opening week, SBU fell to Truman State, 40-37, in a game that was ultimately decided by a field goal with six minutes remaining.
“Both games, they’ve had an opportunity to win,” Beck said, “so they could just as easily be 2-0. We have to look at it that way.”
Tindal’s arm ‘pretty scary’
The Gorillas are also aware of the Bearcats’ offensive attack which starts with quarterback Willie Tindal.
He leads the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in averaging 350.5 yards-per-game passing and 369 total yards-per-game.
Tindal has also tallied 701 yards, completing 43 of 69 passes, with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“They score a lot of points and have been in a lot of games offensively,” Beck said. “They’re pretty scary. Their No. 1 player is one that we have to pay attention to.”
The Bearcat offense does not start and end with Tindal either.
His favorite wide receiver is Derwyn Lauderdale, who has hauled in 19 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
Lauderdale ranks No. 1 in the MIAA in receptions and No. 2 in receiving yards-per-contest.
“Their quarterback does a nice job of getting him (Lauderdale) the football and giving him some nice catches,” Beck said. “Plus their quarterback can pull down and run the ball if he doesn’t like what he sees. I feel like offensively and defensively, they have a lot of skilled players.”
Pumped-up, or cocky?
The Gorillas are coming off consecutive blowouts over Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma, respectively.
So far this season, the Gorillas have been fairly balanced, offensively, with 715 rushing yards compiled and 466 yards through the air.
Beck says he has enjoyed being able to show how versatile PSU is.
He has attributed that trait to offensive coordinator Steve Rampy’s play calling, adding that the opposing defense will dictate what the Gorillas have been able to do on offense.
“A lot of times we go to the offensive line, we’ve got two plays called and we’ll run with another run or pass … A lot of times, defenses dictate that a little bit,” Beck said. “It’s nice to see through the balance. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be as balanced, run-pass as we’ve been, but it’s been nice to see that up to this point.”
Junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja has averaged 219 yards per game passing with a total of 37 completions out of 48 attempts. He has not tossed an interception yet.
He has compiled 70 yards-per-game on average on the ground and two touchdowns.
Growing Gorilla versatility
The Gorilla offense is also led by sophomore running back Jeff Seybold Jr. who has put together 191 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
PSU has other options on the ground, with redshirt freshman running back Dre Holman getting 110 yards rushing.
Redshirt freshman running back Steven Sulivan has clocked 93 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Marquise Cushon has netted 58.
Beck says Seybold might be getting more carries as he eases into the season.
“I think that as our guys continue to get in better shape, I think there’s a chance that we’ll get to see Jeff Seybold carry the ball more,” Beck said. “He’s had a couple of issues and has had to come out for a bit but he’s battled back and got back in there.
“I think there will be a time where he carries it 20 times, or it could be Dre Holman, but as of right now we’ve got to rotate them a little bit and keep them fresh until we can get settled in on one.”
The Gorillas entered the 2013 campaign with limited options on the running game.
Briceton Wilson departed as senior running back Solomon Watkins tore his ACL and is benched for the season.
The game will kick off at 7:00 p.m. at Carnie Smith Stadium.