With a wealth of experience returning at several key positions, including 22 players who drew starting assignments last fall, the Missouri State Bears opened preseason camp Thursday with equipment check-out, physicals and moving into the dormitory in the morning before meetings and a 90-minute workout at Plaster Field.
After some preliminary conditioning tests, the players participated in a general practice session Thursday night in their first official practice of the 2012 football season, which kicks off for MSU Sept. 1, with a 6 p.m. contest at No. 21 Kansas State.
The Bears spent a great deal of the 90 minutes on the turf working on formations and installing their first set of plays for the upcoming campaign. The club also did some initial work on special teams. Among the host of newcomers in attendance was Missouri transfer Ashton Glaser, a junior quarterback who officially joined the club late Wednesday.
MSU also learned its fate in the MVFC preseason poll early Thursday with conference coaches, media and sports information personnel predicting defending national champ North Dakota State as the preseason league favorite. MSU was picked 10th, giving seventh-year head coach Terry Allen reason to take notice.
“We have a lot of new personnel that nobody knows about, including at least one transfer at every position,” said Allen. “This may be one of the strongest defensive teams we have had, and I do not put much stock in preseason polls.”
The Bears will have 32 lettermen and 14 primary starters — including nine on the defensive side (10 counting Howard Scarborough who was injured in week five last year) — back from last season. Even though the club’s 2-9 ledger in 2011 lacked consistency, the Bears seemed to gain momentum late in the year and ended the season by splitting their final four contests. MSU posted victories in its final two road games, lost a double-overtime decision at home and dropped an eight-point decision at Plaster Field in mid-November.
This fall, the schedule appears to be less brutal, particularly after MSU takes on a pair of FBS opponents in the first two weeks. Following their season-opening trip to K-State, a Sept. 8 road date with Louisville will set up a pair of home games against Murray State (Sept. 15) and Southern Illinois (Sept. 22) to get the year started. The 2012 schedule features two FCS playoff teams from last year, but MSU won’t see defending champion North Dakota State or perennial league power UNI until November.
Friday’s schedule includes a single morning workout at 10 a.m., followed by Media Day activities, beginning with a team photo at 2:30 p.m. and press conference at 3 p.m. at Plaster Field.