Missouri State Looks Toward 2014 Campaign

By Dan Lucy | dlucy@kolr10.com

Published 08/04 2014 08:45PM

Updated 08/05 2014 06:22AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo--It may be golf week in the Ozarks, but football is right around the corner.

In our Bear Nation report, Missouri State has already started practice and met the media Monday.

The Bears were picked seventh in the valley football conference preseason poll.     

The renovation of Plaster Stadium is a perfect metaphor for this upcoming Missouri State football season.

Terry Allen hopes to renovate his team.

He'll be starting his ninth Bears campaign, with just this season left on his contract.

"A football coach at the division one level that is at the end of his contract.  Yes it's embarrassing," said Missouri State coach Terry Allen.  "At the division one level it just doesn't happen that way.  It's just kind of embarrassing.  It is what it is and we just have to move forward."

His Bears team will be looking to build on last season's 5-7 mark, but Missouri State won four of its last five games.

"No one expected us to do that.  And leading into this season we have 12 more games," said Bears linebacker Christian Hoffmann.  "We're just going to try to hit the ground running."

Kierra Harris is back for is senior season at quarterback.

And the job is all his, no more sharing time or sharing starts.

But his play must also take a step up, he threw six touchdown passes in 2013, but nine interceptions.

"Last year I was kind of thinking I had to make that big play," said Bears quarterback Kierra Harris. "But I have tons of talent, I don't have to be that guy.  I don't have to make the big play.  I have talent all around me, I just have to go in there and manage the game."

The Bears will help with a run first offensive philosophy behind an experienced offensive line featuring three preseason All-Valley players.

"There are only five returning all-conference lineman in the entire conference.  And we have three of them.  So we expect to be really good up front." said Bears lineman Zack Cooley.  "This is probably the deepest line since I've been here."

"We have three really good running backs this year.  Speed, power, agility.  So with all the backs we have I feel like at least three or four should have good yardage each game," said Bears running back Ryan Heaston.

Defensively, Missouri State features All-American Caleb Schaffitzel at safety.

The senior is looking for a third straight All-American honor, but he would also love to earn a playoff berth in his last Bears season.

"If our team made the playoffs and made a playoff run, that would be unbelievable.  It would do wonders for this place.  And give a lot of excitement, especially for the younger guys coming up," said Bears safety Caleb Schaffitzel.

When the Bears kick off their first home game on Sept. 13th, Plaster Stadium will feature a new 4,000 seat student section, new locker rooms and a fresh carpet of artificial turf.

A $13 million dollar renovation paid for by a student activity fees voted on by the students themselves.

"The fans have showed that they care about us by this stadium.  So we want to give back to them by giving them an exciting year," says Bears running back Ryan Heaston.

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