Curtis Meyer reporter
The first round of playoff football will be held here in Pittsburg, with the Gorillas facing the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds, who are 9-1, and winners of their conference, the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Coming from a smaller conference than Pitt, only six of their nine games were played in conference. Their lone loss came from Saginaw Valley State, a team with an 8-3 record on the year and in the same conference as last year’s champions Ferris State and the currently ranked no. 1 team Grand Valley State.
“We know that they’re going to be a very fast team, they’re going to want to run the ball on us, if we can stop the run then we’ll be good to go in the second, third and long to go situations,” said defensive linemen Zeke Wall.
UIndy has a couple of quarterbacks who have split playing time evenly, with Christian Conkling playing 8 games and Connor Kinnett playing 6. This has perhaps might be the reason that the Greyhounds are a run first team, with far more rushing yards than passing.
Combine this with 29 rushing touchdowns to just 19 passing, and you can see what kind of attack this team prefers. UIndy also boasts a very good run defense, only allowing 547 rushing yards all season, perhaps making it a challenge for Pitt State, both with stopping the run and running it on offense.
“Ever since growing up I’ve always been a guy that wants to stop the run and we want to celebrate being in the backfield at the end of third down,” said Wall.
Though it might be a challenge for Pitt State’s offense to run the ball on the Greyhounds, they have given up a lot of passing yards this season, and in a reverse of numbers allowing 7 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing.
This will give quarterback Chad Dodson more of an opportunity to make plays and will even give the running backs chances to perform in the passing game, as well as trying to protect Dodson as he hangs in the pocket.
“There’s always room to get better, especially when it comes to pass protection, things like that. Pass protection is good, just offensive awareness and knowing what the defense is doing and what’s next to come on the drive,” said running back Caleb Lewis.
Pitt State is coming off a win at home against Fort Hays and is undefeated on the season. With 18 members of the team earning all MIAA honors this season, they will look to bring their momentum into Saturday’s game.
Those MIAA honors include freshman of the year in wide receiver Kolbe Katsis and coach of the year in head coach Brian Wright. This is the first time that Pitt State has gone undefeated since 1961, when they also went 11-0. Pitt State has not had an outright conference title win since 2011, when they won the national championship.
This game Saturday is just the first step in what will be a long journey for the Gorillas if they can make it to the national level. For Lewis, this is a great opportunity to play at home in the playoffs, where fans can cheer on the team in their own hometown.
“I feel great, it’s going to be a great atmosphere, everybody that we know is going to be there. Maybe a few fans from UIndy, but for the most part I feel like it’s going to be a stadium full of Gorillas ready to see us play,” said Lewis.