By: Rick Kindhart
First and Ten
- Missouri State squares off with No. 21-ranked South Dakota on Saturday (1 p.m.) at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Both teams are 1-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this spring with the Bears boasting a 1-0 road record in league games and the Coyotes playing their first home game of the campaign.
- Newcomer Jeremy Webb (Sr., East Mims, Fla.), shares the FCS lead with 3 interceptions on the season. The Virginia Tech transfers recorded his first pick against an MVFC foe in Saturday’s game against NDSU.
- The Bears will play their remaining three conference road games all in domed stadiums with upcoming games at Northern Iowa (March 20) and North Dakota (April 3) after this week’s trip to the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
- Kevin Ellis (Jr., Fort Worth, Texas) is 6 total tackles away from 100 in his career. The MVFC Defensive Player of the Week on March 1, Ellis has played in 26 career games and has 46 solo stops to his credit.
- Jordan Murray (Jr., Lee’s Summit, Mo.) has recorded a pass reception in 25 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in program history. In 2018, Murray broke the Bears freshman receiving record with 33 catches for 378 yards while earning FCS Freshman All-America honors. Last season, he caught 24 passes for 280 yards last season with a team-high 5 touchdown catches.
- Offensive lineman Daniel Allen (Sr., Miami, Okla.) has started 16 straight games.
The Bears and their opponents are both averaging 11.4 yards per reception this season
- Lorenzo Thomas (Sr., Jasper, Texas) and Damoriea Vick (Jr., Oklahoma City, Okla.) rank 18th and 19th, respectively in career receiving yards for the Bears. Thomas has 95 career catches for 1,170 yards in 36 games, while Vick has 90 career receptions for 1,129 yards in 27 games (26 consecutive starts).
- Vick is also 91 yards away from 1500 all-purpose yards in his career (rushing, receiving and returns). His 306 receiving yards this season ranks 13th nationally.
Missouri State is seeking its first win over a ranked opponent since a 24-21 home victory over No. 9 Illinois State on Sept. 29, 2018. MSU clinched that win with a blocked field goal as time expired.
- Kicker Jose Pizano (So., Lehi, Utah) has converted 6-of-8 (.750) field goals this season and is a perfect 8-for-8 PATs. The transfer from Snow College (Utah) converted a season-long 47-yard field goal attempt at UCA in week 2 and ranks 4th nationally in total field goals (6), 21st in field goals per game (1.2) and 24th in FG accuracy.
- Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino is shooting for his 70th career conference victory in Saturday’s game. Against conference foes in his career, Petrino is 69-43, now in his 15th season.
- Bears quarterback Jaden Johnson (RFr., Memphis, Tenn.) is 207 yards away from 1,000 for his freshman season. He already has a pair of 200-yard passing games this season with a high of 278 yards at Western Illinois. In the win in Macomb, Johnson completed 7 passes of 20 yards or more, including his first career TD pass – a go-ahead 22-yard completion to Isaac Smith (Sr., Kansas City, Mo.) in the fourth quarter.
- Through 5 games this season, the Bears have already surpassed last year’s season total for sacks. A year ago, Missouri State recorded just 9 sacks (for 78 yards), while this year, MSU has 14 sacks (for 77 yards) with 12 different players contributing to the Bears pass rush. Ellis (3.5) and Isaiah Sayles (2.5) lead the team in sacks.
- In his first year as the Bears primary punter, Grant Burkett (RFr., Joplin, Mo.) is averaging 42.6 yards per attempt, which ranks No. 9 nationally. He had a 75-yard punt at UCA on Oct. 17 and has 7 punts inside the 20.
- Missouri State signed a total of 22 players to National Letters of Intent during the December (18) and February (4) signing days. Though not all eligible for the spring semester, seven early commitments are already on campus, particularly players on the active two-deep Ryan Suliafu (OL), Nick Gallo (OL), Tobias Little (RB), Kyriq McDonald (DB), and Ron Tiavaasue (TE).
Coach Bobby Petrino
- Missouri State University officially introduced Bobby Petrino as its new head football coach in a news conference at JQH Arena on the Springfield campus, January 16, 2020.
- He is currently 120-60 (.667) in his 15th season as a head coach. He is 1-4 at Missouri State — 0-2 at Robert W. Plaster Stadium and 1-2 on the road. He has never coached against South Dakota.
- Petrino previously served as head coach in two stints at Louisville as well as Arkansas and Western Kentucky. He spent 14 seasons at the FBS level and led his programs to 11 bowl appearances with seven teams ranked in the top 25 at season’s end.
- The Helena, Mont., native is in his 32nd year of collegiate coaching in 2020. He has guided his programs to top-six final rankings in the Associated Press poll three times (2004, 2006, 2011), directing some of the nation’s top offensive programs along the way.
- His clubs have finished in the top five nationally in scoring offense three times, while his 2004 club at Louisville led the country in scoring at 49.8 points per game. He has developed 34 NFL Draft selections during his illustrious career, including four in the first round, and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
- Petrino and his wife Becky have four children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby and Katie — and six grandchildren. Nick Petrino is Missouri State’s offensive coordinator, while sons-in-law Ryan Beard (defensive coordinator) and L.D. Scott (defensive line) are also on the MSU coaching staff this season.
- South Dakota leads the all-time series, 4-2, including a 3-0 record in Vermillion against the Bears.
- Last year, Austin Simmons threw four TD passes to lift the Coyotes to a 45-10 win in Springfield. STATS