Bears Prepare for Saturday's Home Opener Against Skyhawks
UT Martin Skyhawks (1-0) at
Missouri State Bears (0-1)
Sept. 12, 2009, 3:00 p.m.
Plaster Field (16,300), Springfield, Mo.Quick Links:RADIOTELEVISION (Mediacom) . BEARS LIVELIVE STATSMISSOURI STATE GAME NOTESUT MARTIN GAME NOTESVALLEY FOOTBALL GAME NOTESTICKETS . SEASON TICKETS . FAMILY PLANWHAT'S NEW AT PLASTERBEARWEAR FRIDAYS . BUY BEARWEARVISITOR'S GUIDE
Today's Game: The Missouri State Bears return to Plaster Field for their 2009 home opener on Saturday, Sept. 12 when they take on the Skyhawks of the University of Tennessee at Martin. Game time is set for 3 p.m.
This will be the sixth meeting between the two programs and third matchup this decade. The Bears defeated UTM by a 51-44 score on Sept. 6, 2007 in Martin in the most-recent meeting between the schools.
The Skyhawks, from the Ohio Valley Conference, come to town riding a one-game win streak after destroying Iowa Wesleyan, 56-0, in their season opener on Sept. 3, in Martin. Miguel Barnes carried for 115 yards and three touchdowns, and redshirt freshman Jason McNair accounted for two touchdowns, 83 rushing yards and 148 all-purpose yards to earn OVC Newcomer of the Week honors. Cade Thompson went 21-for-34 for 273 yards through the air with three TD passes to lead UTM which held IWC to just three first downs.
The Bears lost their season debut, 48-10, against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sept. 5, in a game played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Missouri State is 8-1 this decade in its home openers, and has also won 10 of its last 11 home openers.
Overall, Missouri State is 432-435-39 (.498) in 97 seasons all-time, including a 192-142-12 (.572) record in 67 seasons at Plaster Field, 63-86-1 (.423) mark in MVFC play, and 145-149-3 (.493) record at the NCAA Division I FCS level.
The Series: Missouri State leads the all-time series, 5-0, including a 3-0 mark at Plaster Field. The series dates back to 1996, and the Bears have outscored the Skyhawks by an average margin of 46.2 to 15.6 in the previous five games.
In the most recent meeting, Sept. 6, 2007 in Martin, Tenn., the Bears jumped on top 14-0 in the first three minutes and stayed in front the rest of the night in a 51-44 upset of the 16th-ranked Skyhawks. The win ended a string of 11 straight road losses for MSU.
The two ballclubs amassed 987 total yards between them. Gerald Davis with 83 yards and Kingjack Washington with 80 led the Bears on the ground while Matt Krapfl's 5-of-10 throwing night included two TD tosses as he finished with 140 yards. Eric Davis had five catches for 99 yards to go with his four kickoff returns for 84. The three field goals by Nathan Stokes matched his career high. Defensively, the Bears got nine solo stops among 13 tackles by LB Jeron Poole while CB Derek Miller was in on nine stops and LB Sam Block had eight.
The Coaches: Missouri State head coach Terry Allen (Northern Iowa, 1976) is 107-81 (.569) overall as he begins his 17th season as a head coach. Allen is 12-22 (.353) in his fourth season at Missouri State. He is also 86-45 (.656) in Missouri Valley Football Conference games, including his tenure at Northern Iowa (1989-96). Allen is 1-0 against UT Martin.
With the Bears, Allen is 8-9 at home, 4-13 away, 6-15 in conference play (4-7 at home), 6-7 in non-conference games (4-2 at home), 1-0 in overtime, 0-1 in shutouts, and 5-7 in games decided by 10 points or less.
Coach Allen spent 10 years as an assistant coach at UNI (1979-88) before taking over the head coaching duties there in 1989 where he spent the next eight seasons (1989-96). He was 72-26 at UNI and five-time MVFC Coach of the Year, taking the Panthers to the NCAA FCS playoffs seven straight years. He took over the head coaching duties at Kansas in 1997 and was 20-33 in five years with the Big 12 Jayhawks (1997-2001). Prior to coming to MSU, he spent four seasons (2002-05) as associate head coach at Iowa State.
UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson (Southern Miss., 1994) is 22-14 (.611) in his fourth season with the Skyhawks and overall as a head caoch. He is 16-7 in Ohio Valley Conference games and was 8-4 overall a year ago while finishing 6-2 in the OVC. In his previous two seasons, the Skyhawks were 4-7 (4-4 OVC) in 2007 and 9-3 (6-1 OVC) in his first campaign in 2006.
Simpson is 0-1 against Missouri State (2007), and has previous assistant coaching assignments at Chattanooga, Texas State, Blinn Junior College, Jacksonville State, and Delta State.
First and Ten: Ten Missouri state quick hits relating to today's game:
Radio: All Missouri State Bears games can be heard on KTXR, Springfield (101.3 FM), the flagship station of the Missouri State Bears Football Radio Network. Play-by-play man Art Hains will provide the game description. Color commentary duties will be split this between third-year commentator Scott Opfer and KYTV Sports Director Ned Reynolds. Opfer will handle seven dates, while Reynolds will work the Sept. 5, Sept. 12, Oct. 3 and Oct. 24 games.
Hains first began calling Bears' action in 1977 and is in his second stint and 30th season overall as the Voice of the Bears. He called Bears games from 1977-81 and returned to that post in 1985. The UT Martin game is Art's 311th MSU football broadcast.
MSU football can also be heard on the seven-station, Missouri State Bears Football Radio Network on the following affiliates: Ava - KKOZ (92.1 FM/1430 AM); Jefferson City - KJMO (97.5); Kansas City - KCWJ (1030 AM); Monett - KKBL (95.9 FM); Poplar Bluff - KLID (1340 AM); St. Louis - KFNS (100.7 FM); and Springfield - KTXR (101.3 FM) (flagship).
On-Line: Select games this season will be shown on Missouri State's on-line video channel -- Bears Live! Bears Live is a premium, broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand Missouri State streaming video & audio. This broadband video channel is the ultimate place for Bears fans on the web and can be accessed through www.MissouriStateBears.com, the official web site of Missouri State Athletics.
Links to live game stats, and the free audio stream (through www.RadioSpringfield.com) can be found on this week's game notes page on www.MissouriStateBears.com or at the Fan Central link on the home page.
Television: Today's game will be shown on Mediacom Connections (Channel 22 locally) and the Missouri Sports Cable Network throughout the state of Missouri, on a tape-delayed basis. Play-by-play man Don West will call the action, while Mike McClure is the color commentator for the games, and Corey Riggs is executive producer.
Last Game: The Bears gave up a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play of the game and didn't settle in until Arkansas was up 14-0 early in the first quarter, eventually falling to the Razorbacks, 48-10, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. The announced crowd of 55,572 was the second-largest in Missouri State history.
The Bears threw an interception on their opening sequence after they advanced past midfield and seemed to be moving the ball well against the Southeastern Conference foe. After Arkansas converted the turnover into seven points to make it 14-0, Cody Kirby (Jr., QB, Rogers, Ark.) marched the Bears to the Arkansas 36 before the team settled for a career-long 53-yard field goal by Matt Hottelman (Sr., PK, O'Fallon, Mo.) to make it 14-3.
Arkansas took just 99 seconds to drive 74 yards on its next possession to go up 21-3, , and then capped an 83-yard drive in 16 plays, consuming just under eight minutes to make it 28-3.
The Bears then put together their biggest drive of the evening, marching 53 yards on 10 plays for their only touchdown of the game. After Clay Harbor (Sr., TE, Dwight, Ill.) was blatantly held in the endzone on a fourth-and-five play, the Bears were given new life after the pass interference flag gave MSU a first-and-goal at the two. From there, Jonathan Davis (Jr., TB, Tampa, Fla.) carried it in to the end zone, making it 28-10 at the time.
Newcomers Chris Douglas (So., TB, Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Mikael Cooper Falls (Fr., TB, Springfield, Mo.) accounted for 38 and 34 rushing yards, respectively to lead the Bears, while Kirby passed for 107 yards on 12-of-20 with two interceptions. Harbor led six Bears' receivers with catches on the night, collecting four passes for 61 yards.
Defensively, the Bears were led by newcomer Antoine Wilkinson (Jr., LB, Magnolia, Miss.) who brought down 11 Razorbacks, including eight solos, while Derek Miller (Jr., S, Olathe, Kan.) had nine tackles and seven solos.
Team Captains: Missouri State will have five co-captains for the 2009 season, including a pair of seniors and three juniors. The Bears' 2009 Bears includes tight end Clay Harbor (Sr., Dwight, Ill.), cornerback Cedric Alvis (Sr., Columbia, Mo.), guard David Arkin (Jr., Wichita, Kan.), quarterback Cody Kirby (Jr., Rogers, Ark.), and safety Skylar Smith (Jr., Springfield, Mo.). Kirby was also a co-captain in 2008, which made him just the third MSU sophomore captain since 1953 (joining Corky Martin, 1999, and Kevin Sears, 2005).
Scouting UT Martin: After giving up just 78 yards in their season opener, the Skyhawks boast the nation's top total defense. Likewise, the team's 555 yards in total offense against Iowa Wesleyan makes it the No. 2 offense in the Division I FCS ranks.
Individually, Miguel Barnes ranks 19th nationally in rushing (115.0) and is tied for the national lead in scoring (18.0). At 83.0 yards per game, Jason McNair is tied for 38th nationally in ground yards, while his 16.5 punt return average ties him as the No. 6 punt returner in the nation. McNair is the OVC Newcomer of the Week.
As a team, the Skyhawks also rank among the nation's top 10 in seven other statistical categories and are among the Ohio Valley's top three teams in 15 different categories.
About Missouri State: Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive university system with a mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons while achieving five goals: democratizing society, incubating new ideas, imagining Missouri's future, making Missouri's future, and modeling ethical and effective behavior. With an enrollment of 21,688, MSU is the second-largest institution for higher learning in Missouri, and its identity is distinguished by its statewide mission in public affairs. This mission requires a campus-wide commitment to foster competence and responsibility in the common vocation of citizenship. Missouri State University-Springfield is a selective admissions, graduate level teaching and research institution.
MSU athletics compete at the NCAA Division I level and is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference with affiliate membership in the Mid-American Conference for field hockey and men's swimming and diving.
Notable Missouri State alums include: Ryan Howard (first baseman, Philadelphia Phillies), John Goodman (actor), Kathleen Turner (actress), David Glass (owner, Kansas City Royals), John Q. Hammons (businessman, hotel developer), Bob Holden (43rd governor of Missouri), Bill Mueller (2003 American League batting champ), Jackie Stiles (NCAA Division I women's basketball career scoring leader), and Blake Ahearn (NBA D-League MVP and All-Star Game co-MVP).
Streaks and Milestones: Clay Harbor needs 5 receptions for 100 in his career ... Tyler Horner needs 2 passing yards for 1,000 in his career ... Matt Hottelman needs 7 yards in kickoffs to give him 10,000 in his career ... Cody Kirby needs 14 pass attempts for 600, and 137 passing yards to reach 4,000 in his career ... Kirby also needs 70 rushing yards for 500 in his career ... Skylar Smith needs 12 tackles for 100 in his career ... Byron Hightower needs 15 tackles for 100 in his career.
Starting to Become a Habit: Four Bears have started at least 10 consecutive games. Leading the list is Clay Harbor (Sr., TE, Dwight, Ill.) with 24 straight starts, followed by David Arkin (Jr., OG, Wichita, Kan.) 23, Cody Kirby (Jr., QB, Rogers, Ark.), 20, and Cedric Alvis (Sr., CB, Columbia, Mo.) 12.
Overall, MSU returns five offensive starters from last season -- Harbor, Arkin, Kirby, Brent Chojnacki (Jr., OC, Olathe, Kan.) and Justin Fuselier (Jr., WR, Tulsa, Okla.). The Bears also return four regular defensive starters -- Alvis, Waylon Richardet (Jr., DT, Perryville, Mo.), Byron Hightower (Jr., LB, Raytown, Mo.), and Skylar Smith (Jr., S, Springfield, Mo.).
Kirby Home Demonstration: Cody Kirby (Jr., QB, Rogers, Ark.) has enjoyed great success at Plaster Field during his time at MSU. In 11 career home games, including 10 starts, Kirby has thrown for 2,215 yards (201.4) and 17 touchdown passes, including seven 200-yard performances. The Bears are 5-5 in Kirby starts at home and 8-12 in his 20 starts overall. He has been the MSU quarterback in 53 of the team's 58 plays this season.
Honors Continue for Tight End Harbor: Bears' tight end Clay Harbor (Sr., Dwight, Ill.) continues to collect preseason All-America honors from various publications and organizations.
During the 2009 preseason, he has been named to All-America teams by The Sports Network, College Sporting News, Consensus Draft Services, and Lindy's College Football Preview.
After collecting 40 receptions for 457 yards in 2008, Harbor earned Associated Press FCS All-America second-team honors. Harbor is a two-time, first-team All-MVFC pick as well as twice being recognized on the AP All-America list, including a third-team honor in 2007.
Harbor is also ranked as the No. 12 overall player -- and top tight end -- in the NCAA FCS, according to the ranking source for Phil Steele. The top 20 players are: 1. QB Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State, Sr.; 2. WR/RS Andre' Roberts, The Citadel, Sr.; 3. QB Cameron Higgins, Weber State, Jr.; 4. WR Terrell Hudgins, Elon, Sr.; 5. FS Mark LeGree, Appalachian State, Jr.; 6. DE Larry Hart, Central Arkansas, Sr.; 7. QB Dominic Randolph, Holy Cross, Sr.; 8. RS Leroy Vann, Florida A&M, Sr.; 9. RB Trevyn Smith, Weber State, Sr.; 10. OT James Williams, Harvard, Sr.; 11. DE James Ruffin, Northern Iowa, Sr.; 12. TE Clay Harbor, Missouri State, Sr.; 13. OG Matthew McCracken, Richmond, Sr.; 14. WR/RS Marc Mariani, Montana, Sr.; 15. TE Scott Sicko, New Hampshire, Sr.; 16. RS Scotty McGee, James Madison, Sr.; 17. OT Vladimir Ducasse, UMASS, Sr.; 18. RB William Ford, South Carolina State, Sr.; 19. DE Austen Lane, Murray State, Sr.; 20. DT Mychal Savage, Youngstown State, Sr.
Coors Player of the Week: Antoine Wilkinson (Jr., LB, Magnolia, Miss.) was named Coors Player of the Week for the Bears season opener at Arkansas on Sept. 5.
For his part, Wilkinson dominated at middle linebacker, posting a game-high 11 tackles in the contest and posting one tackle for loss. His eight solo stops were also a game-high and his tackle total was just one less than the combined total of the three other starting linebackers: Michael Keck (6), Terian Washington (3) and Adam Beauchamp (3).
The transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College made quite the impression in his Missouri State debut, and Coors is proud to salute him for his efforts against Arkansas!
In 2008, Cody Kirby (QB, Rogers, Ark.) was named 2008 Missouri State Coors Player of the Year after earning second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Honors and throwing for 2,014 yards and 15 touchdowns, finishing second in the league in total offense and 53rd nationally. He led the Bears to three fourth-quarter go-ahead or tying scores in 2008.
MVFC Preseason All-Conference Team: The Missouri Valley Football Conference released its preseason all-conference team on July 20 at its annual Media Day festivities in St. Louis.
Three Bears were named to the Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team, including Clay Harbor (Sr., TE, Dwight, Ill.), David Arkin (Jr., OG, Wichita, Kan.) and honorable mention selection Cody Kirby (Jr., QB, Rogers, Ark.).
Harbor, a preseason All-America pick by several agencies, snagged 40 receptions for 457 yards in 2008 for the Bears, both tops on the squad, and earned Associated Press FCS All-America second-team honors. Harbor is a two-time, first-team All-MVFC pick as well as twice being recognized on the AP All-America list.
Arkin was named a preseason Third-Team All-America pick at offensive guard by the Sports Network. He graded out at 86 percent during the 2008 season, starting all 11 games at offensive guard. He was named the team's Offensive Lineman of the Week four times in 2008, also gaining the squad's Offensive Player of the Week distinction twice. He was a 2008 All-Valley preseason selection in addition to being named to the league's All-Newcomer Team and Second-Team All-Conference squads the past two seasons.
Kirby, who found a spot on the MVFC Preseason Team as an honorable mention pick, earned All-Valley second-team honors as a sophomore in 2008 after throwing for 2,104 yards and 15 touchdowns while posting 2,227 yards of total offense and scoring nine touchdowns. At 183.1 yards per game, he is the league's top returning passer and No. 2 returnee in total offense (202.5 ypg). Kirby was the league's preseason All-Valley quarterback in 2008 and was the 2007 MVFC Freshman of the Year.
Individual Statistical Leaders: The following active Missouri State players rank among the Missouri Valley Football Conference's top 20 individual performers in the categories indicated:
Valley All-Time Football Team: As a part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference Silver Anniversary Celebration, fans are invited to participate in the selection of the Valley's All-Time Football Team. The ballots are accessible through the the Missouri Valley Football Conference web site or at www.Valley-Football25.org. (one ballot per site visit).
There are 14 Bears on the ballot, including: DeAndre Smith (QB, 1987-90), Clay Harbor (TE, 2006-present), Brad St. Louis (TE, 1996-99), Mark Christensen (OL, 1986-89), Matt Irvin (OL, 1989-92), Wayne Boyer (PK ,1993-96), Travis Brawner (PK, 1997-99), Jon Scifres (PK, 2002-05), Michael Fox (DL, 1989-90), Bill Waler (DL, 1988-91), DeLaun Fowler (LB, 1992-95), Matt Soraghan (LB, 1985-87), Adrion Smith (DB, 1989-91), and Marcus Shipp (DB, 1989-91).
MVFC All-Select NFL Team: Former Missouri State football Bears Brad St. Louis and Jason Whittle have been named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference "All-Select NFL Team," the league announced Monday (July 20) in St. Louis.
Whittle, most recently an offensive lineman with the Buffalo Bills, is preparing for his 12th NFL year in 2009. He signed a free agent contract in the 2003 off-season with the New York Giants. He later moved to the Minnesota Vikings for the 2006 campaign before joining the Bills in 2007. An offensive and defensive line standout at Missouri State from 1994-97, Whittle signed with the Giants in 1998 and was a regular lineman and deep snapper for the team. His play in the 2001 Super Bowl was the first time an MSU product had played in the NFL title game.
St. Louis is entering his 10th year with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009, making him the longest-tenured player on the Bengals' roster. He starred for MSU at tight end from 1996-99 and played in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl after his senior MSU season prior to signing with Cincinnati. He has operated as the Bengals' regular deep snapper each of the past six seasons with additional work at tight end.
The team includes 35 players from current and former MVFC schools. The team includes four NFL MVPs, 15 Pro-Bowl selections and other 23 Super Bowl appearances by 12 players. Sixteen former league players are active in the NFL.
National Leaders: As a team, the Bears rank 7th nationally in net punting (42.0), but also have several individuals already ranking high nationally. Jermaine Saffold (Fr., WR, Grandview, Mo.) ranks 12th in kickoff return average (32.50), while Antonio Brown (Fr., CB, Midwest City, Okla.) ranks tied for 8th in interceptions (1.0). Jordan Chiles (So., P, Hillsboro, Ill.) ranks 19th in punting (41.6), while Matt Hottelman (Sr., K, O'Fallon, Mo.) is tied for 24th in field goals per game (1.0), and Antoine Wilkinson (Jr., LB, Magnolia, Miss.) ranks tied for 26th in tackles (11.0).
Postseason History: The Bears have appeared in three postseason games during their NCAA Division I era (1982-present).
In 1989, the Bears were ranked No. 9 in the FCS poll when they hosted Maine at Plaster Field on November 25. A 33-yard field goal by Chris Potthast with eight seconds left gave MSU a 38-35 win and sent the Bears to the national quarterfinals at Stephen F. Austin.
The Bears gave up 613 yards in total offense at SFA and fell 55-25, despite trailing just 23-10 at the half. MSU finished the year with a 10-3 record, by far their best in the era.
In 1990, MSU hosted No. 13 Idaho at Plaster Field in the first round of the playoffs. After a field goal by Richard Grote on the first play of the fourth quarter tied the game, 35-35, the Bears gave up field goals of 29 and 50 yards later in the quarter, and the potential game-winning drive stalled at the Idaho 45 with 30 seconds remaining in a 41-35 defeat.
Prior to their Division I days, the Bears appeared in three bowl games, falling 34-20 to Emporia State in the 1948 Mo-Kan Bowl, dropping a 21-14 decision to Northern Illinois in the 1963 Mineral Water Bowl, and coming up short, 14-8, to Adams State in the 1966 Mineral Water Bowl.
MSU is 1-5 all-time in postseason.
Plaster Sports Complex: Home of the Missouri State Bears since 1941, the 2009 campaign marks football Bears' 68th season in the facility (the school did not field teams two years during World War II (1943-44).
MSU has a 192-142-12 (.572) record for 346 games in Plaster, including five undefeated and untied home seasons -- 1948, 1963, 1974, 1989 and 1992.
The Bears were 5-1 at home in 2007, 1-4 at home in 2008, and are 8-9 at Plaster under Terry Allen. The team enters the 2009 campaign riding a two-game home losing streak.
Originally named SMS Stadium (1941-70), the facility was renamed Briggs Stadium (1970-1991) in honor of former head coach and long-time athletics director Arthur Briggs. A four-phase expansion project that began in 1987 saw the addition of artificial turf (1987), an all-weather track (1988), additional student seating (1990), and second grandstand level and press box (1991) added. The facility was renamed Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex in 1991 at the conclusion of the expansion initiative.
The Bancorp South video scoreboard was added over the summer of 2008. The multi-million dollar system features a high-quality video system, enhanced graphics package, and live scoring and timing capabilities. The Football ProStar LED Video Display has a 4.4 trillion color-capable display; 23mm pixel spacing and 153,600 total red/green/blue LED's. The top of the scoreboard is more than three stories from the surface and extends 40 feet in width.
One of the top FCS facilities in the nation, Plaster Field seats 16,300 spectators and features 24 skyboxes and a 40-seat University box. The complex includes 12 racquetball courts and locker rooms, as well as the Plaster Strength Center -- a 7,200-square foot weight room which is one of the largest in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Plaster Field is also home to the Missouri State men's soccer, women's soccer, field hockey, and women's track & field squads.
Postgame Interview Procedure: MSU Head Coach Terry Allen meets with his team in McDonald Arena, then returns to the Plaster Field Press Box for a radio show, which can be heard on the press box intercom. After the radio show, Allen has a media availability in the Plaster Sports Complex racquetball lounge on the ground floor of the stadium, west side (just east of the stadium elevator entrance and souvenir stand).
To get to the Interview Area, take the press box elevator to the Ground Level. Exit the building to the right, and turn left (east). Go directly through the double doors ahead, and you will see the postgame room directly in front of you. Credentials are required for this area.
A member of the Missouri State Athletics Communications staff will accept Bears player interview requests from media members and bring those players to the racquetball lounge in advance of Terry Allen's media press conference (based on availability).
Media members will be escorted to this area after the game for interviews.
The Missouri State locker room is closed to all media following the game.
The opposing head coach will be available immediately after the game in the interview area. The opponent locker room will also be closed following the game.
Up Next: Missouri State continues its three-game home stand next Saturday (Sept. 19) when it welcomes fellow Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State to Plaster Sports Complex for a 3 p.m. start.