SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The Missouri State Bears will kick off the new football season in a little more than a week.
And they’ll do it as the eighth-ranked team in the nation in the FCS coaches poll.
One big reason for the high expectations is quarterback Jason Shelley.
He’s only played in a dozen games as a Bear, but Jason Shelley has rewritten the Missouri State record book.
The senior quarterback set five single season Bear records, engineered four fourth quarter comebacks, and led MSU to the NCAA playoffs.
For 2022, Jason Shelley wants to set the bar even higher.
“I’m just trying to make the right reads. I try not to force anything. I still have those moments when I try to force passes when I’m not supposed to. But that’s a work in progress,” said Shelley.
Missouri State football fans can’t wait to see the finished product.
Shelley returns his favorite receiver in Ty Scott, and has a power five transfer running the ball behind him in Jarcardia Wright.
“If people want to double and key on Ty, we have other guys who can go out there and go for 100. I think other teams should be aware that they need to play honest. Play honest football because I’m not the type of person wo force it on one person. I’ll find the open man,” said Shelley.
“We challenge him everyday. That’s one of the things our quarterbacks understand, diamonds are formed under pressure. So we put a lot of pressure on them to basically work to be perfect in practice. Make the right decisions, be accurate with your throws, take your weapons,” said Bears coach Bobby Petrino.
Patience is something Shelley is working on this preseason.
Take the time to go through your progressions, read the defense and make the right decision.
Petrino:”The struggle when coaching a quarterback is, you don’t want to take away any of his aggressiveness but I want him to understand he has guys around him that can make plays.”
The first three games will be a big test to that patience.
On the road at Central Arkansas, then home to Tennessee-Martin, then a trip to the SEC’s Arkansas Razorbacks.
“We’re excited to go up there and show the world that we’re a good team. And we’re the team to be afraid of, to circle the schedule, oh shoot we’re about to play Missouri State football. I think those three games to open up the season will open the eyes of everybody else,” said Shelley.
Last year, Shelley was a Walter Payton award finalist.
In 2022 Shelley wants to win the honor as FCS’ best player.
“But I think the thing he understands is, if and when he wins that award, it’s a team award. The best player on the best team in the country. That’s how you win a Walter Payton. That’s how you wn a Heisman. Everybody on our team needs to take pride in the fact that him and (Montrae) Braswell are up for these awards. And lets all go out and win it as a team,” said Petrino.