SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The Missouri State Bears will kick off the new football season three weeks from Thursday when they go to Northern Arizona.
This is Dave Steckel’s fifth season as the Bears boss and he’s looking to improve on last year’s 4-7 campaign.
Thursday the players gathered for media day which consists of taking pictures for game programs, and speaking with reporters.
Dave Steckel’s fifth season as the Bears boss kicked off with one mantra, protect the ball.
“It’s going to be absolutely critical. I’ve been preaching it since we got here. It was an embarrassment,” said Stec.
And the first person he challenged was returning starter and senior quarterback Peyton Huslig.
Last season, Huslig threw for more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
But he also threw 16 interceptions, and the offense fumbled the ball away ten more times.
Stec:”He’ll improve if he protects the football.”
“I think he’s 100 percent right. I think the biggest difference last year was the turnover margin. I think if we can fix that one problem it’ll change a lot of things for us. Just don’t force anything really. If we have a run play called keep it but if they’re going to take it away don’t force it. So I feel like we have a lot of guys, a lot of weapons this year,” said Bears Quarterback Peyton Huslig.
One of those other play makers is senior receiver Tyler Currie.
He was the Bears leading receiver with five touchdowns last year and is excited about the new season.
“Me being a senior. Just taking account, having fun with the guys, enjoying each moment. And just being better then we were last year is the main focus,” said Bears Receiver Tyler Currie.
Stec says an improved offensive line will help as well.
And that focus on the ball goes to the defensive side as well.
Seven starters are back including the dynamic duo of linebackers Angelo Garbutt and McNeese Egbim.
Those two combined for nearly 200 total tackles, and look to improve on that in their senior campaigns.
“We punch the ball everytime we get close to the ball. And that’s the thing the offense has to understand. They have to hold onto the ball because we’re coming for it. Relentless, every play,” said Bears Linebacker Angelo Garbutt.
Both want to make their last season at Missouri State memorable.
“I just want to make sure we never quit as a team. Not one of us quits. I want to make sure I’m there for my teammates. And we finish strong. With a winning record. And then go deep in the playoffs and win it all. That’s pretty much it,” said Bears Linebacker McNeese Egbim.