With just one day to go before their first scrimmage of the preseason, the Missouri State Bears hit the practice field early Friday for their lone workout of the day.
Fine tuning on both sides of the ball remained the focus, particularly in game-type situations, as all three units enjoyed standout moments during the portion of practice devoted solely to red zone work. The offense sparkled early, putting the ball in the end zone on each of its first three series during the period, as both Glaser and Kierra Harris hooked up for long scoring strikes, before freshman Brodie Lambert led a third TD drive.
Not to be outdone, the Bears’ defense and special teams finished the day by coming up with some key stops and a blocked field goal attempt to thwart several scoring chances down the home stretch of the two-hour practice.
Key to the Missouri State defense’s ability to stop the opposition deep in its own zone in 2012 will most certainly be the outside linebacker corps. On a team with just 11 seniors, two projected senior starters will anchor outside linebacker jobs this fall for the Bears at a position that includes just four returnees.
Nate Davis burst onto the scene a year ago as a transfer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College and started the last two games of the season while compiling 44 tackles and recovering a pair of fumbles. Fellow senior Rodney Kelly’s rise to the top of the depth chart came in 2011 when he started all 11 games and collected 46 tackles.
“I’m looking for the two seniors to go out with a bang this season,” said outside linebackers coach Wayne Chambers. “They know what we’re looking for, and they should be finishing my sentences in position meetings. I think Kelly is ready to make an impact, and I hope he can pick up where he left off this spring.”
Junior Nick Canavan will also be in the mix after he started nine games as a sophomore and has compiled 103 tackles in his first 19 college games.
Another of the team’s seniors, Pat Fornadel played all 11 games a year ago, including special teams assignments and will add depth and a solid frame.
Westminster transfer Marcel Roberson and local standout Dylan Cole round out the outside linebackers and bring a wealth of physical talent and athleticism to coach Chambers’ troops.
“I’m hoping Nick (Canavan) will come out of the shadows and ready to take over,” said Chambers. “Pat (Fornadel) brings strength, power and determination every play. Those guys will play a lot, and we will bank on them and our senior leadership to get it done.”
Up next, the Bears will square off against each other in a controlled scrimmage Saturday morning at Plaster Field, beginning at approximately 10:15 a.m.