After a tight 27-24 victory over the Lindenwood Lions, the eighth-ranked Gorillas are back in the Jungle on Saturday to face off against the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats. After playing such as close game against Lindenwood, the Gorillas are eager to get on the field back at home against Northwest.
“I think that any time during the season, you can face a lot of adversity, and come out on top” sophomore wide receiver Brenner Clemons said. “I think that’s great for morale, great for the confidence of the team, and it just so happened to come right in the middle of the season before this next few stretch of games that are going to be pretty tough. And I think that was huge for us to get that momentum on.”
After a 20-10 win over the Bearcats last season, the Gorillas are hungry for action and excited to see what difference a year can make and if they can keep it as low scoring of a game as last year.
“I think we’re similar in some ways because of the fact that our D line has been able to control the line of scrimmage up to this point,” head coach Tim Beck said. “So I think we’re very similar. Now we don’t run the same scheme defensively, but we’re similar in the fact that we’ve got good defensive linemen and there’s not anybody that’s not a good player on their defense, so don’t take that wrong, but it’s hard for those guys out front of defense.”
One major challenge for Gorilla defense will be working against Northwest freshman quarterback Braden Wright who currently has over 1,200 yards passing. Senior linebacker Demetrius Bernard is excited for the overall challenge that the game will bring, but has confidence in his team, and particularly in the defensive line.
“It’s about having good eyes, trusting what you see, not being overaggressive,” Bernard said. “You have to go cover somebody. You have to keep in mind that he can take off and run. That’s an advantage that we have in that we have such a great defensive line. Me as a linebacker, and other guys, we can go focus on our things and just trust that our D line will keep them back.”
Beck’s goal in defense is to keep the Bearcats to minimal first downs and get their offense off the field as quickly as possible. Although the D line is feeling strong, Beck is hoping he can see the same strength in his offense this time around.
“[Our offense] is definitely inconsistent,” Beck said. “We’ve looked good at times and we’ve looked not so good at times and you know a part of that is because of some situations that we’ve been put in because of personnel, but I think that we’re on the right track. We definitely showed improvement last week in a couple different areas. The week before we had 14 penalties. This last week we had three. So I definitely think we’re making some strides and I think we understand too that we have a lot of room to get better.”
The team feels like coming back home to play at Carnie Smith is always a great time, but they can’t wait to play game six back at home. The game will be Saturday at 2pm and they will be going for their twelfth consecutive win.
“It’s always huge to be at home, especially with our atmosphere and our fans,” Clemons said. “But we try not to look at it as any different game. We go into this week feeling 0-0 like we haven’t won the game yet and then we’re on to the next one. We take it with the same approach – doesn’t matter who our opponent is. We come out and play our best football.”