SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In a little more than five week, and just 133 days after a playoff loss, Missouri State football will retake the gridiron to start the 2021 season against Oklahoma State.
“Belief and confidence has really changed,” Bears head coach Bobby Petrino said.
In the MVFC preseason poll released on Tuesday, the Bears were picked to finish sixth in the conference, the highest since 2010.
“Our players will have a chip on their shoulder and feel like we need to get more respect,” Petrino said. “We are going to utilize it as doesn’t matter where you start it’s where you finish. We are going to do everything we can to finish higher than sixth.”
Montrae Braswell was named first team all-conference at the defensive back position. Five of the seven Bears on preseason lists are on defense.
“It’s a strong defense. Bras(well) is a guy who can line up one-on-one and allow us to do different things in the secondary,” Petrino said. “Kyriq McDonald is another really good player at safety and I have always felt the defensive line was the strength of the defense.”
Also on the all-conference second team: Landon Bebee (OL), Kevin Ellis (DL), Eric Johnson (DL), Tylar Wiltz (LB), McDonald (DB), Jose Pizano (PK).
There will be plenty of change on both sides of the ball. With more transfers, some announced some not, Petrino says he expects more competition. That includes at the quarterback position with Jaden Johnson, Jake Van Dyne and Utah State transfer Jason Shelley. Matt Struck, who played in seven games last season, is no longer with the team.
“We’ve tried to hit just about every position and make it more competitive. I think that;s what we had to do was compete and get better in practice.”
With COVID still a concern this fall, the conference announced forfeits may be required. Missouri State is nearing the 85 percent vaccinated threshold, which results in an ease of testing and contact tracing procedures.
“I think our players have made a good committment and have worked hard at it. Obviously they have done some research and we’ve had some people come in and talk to them. Where we are at right now, it’s a good thing we are there.”
The Bears will begin fall camp on Friday, August 6th.