Oct. 28, 2011
Back in the saddle Christopher and ‘Cats ready for Lions
By David Boyce
All week Northwest Missouri State senior quarterback Blake Christopher has been at ease heading into Saturday’s game at Missouri Southern.
Do not get the wrong impression that Christopher is taking Missouri Southern Lions lightly.
It would be easy for a quarterback in Christopher’s position to get slightly overconfident. A week ago, Christopher returned from a concussion against undefeated Washburn and blistered the Ichabods for 406 yards and three touchdowns in an impressive 52-28 victory over the No. 3 team in Division II.
Those numbers were particularly awesome when you factor in Christopher missed the previous two weeks recovering from his head injury.
Christopher, though, is not overconfident and walking around with a swagger that the Bearcats should have no problem beating Missouri Southern, which is 2-6. Missouri Southern is coming off a 68-28 victory over Southwest Baptist.
The reason Christopher is at ease is because early in the week he knew he was going to start.
“Last week I didn’t know until Thursday morning if I would be able to play,” Christopher said. “I finally passed my concussion test. It wears on your mind wondering what the result will be.
“That’s the most frustrating part. The second injury was a little more frustrating. With the hand, it is a physical thing and you can feel you are not ready to go. With the head, I felt perfectly fine but for whatever reason, my brain was telling me I was not ready to go. I had to sit out that week. It wasn’t fun.”
Christopher has missed four games because of two different injuries. For a player who has put in four years in the program to get an opportunity to start and then to get hurt twice, it seems fate is playing a cruel trick on Christopher’s psyche.
“At the beginning of the year I would have never drawn it up like this,” Christopher said. “But it is what it is. I feel like everything happens for a reason. God has a plan. You try to live by that and that is what keeps me going during those down times.
“The guys in the locker room supported me. That was a big boost, a big help.”
Head coach Adam Dorrel is another big supporter. He recruited Christopher and has always liked his work ethic.
“Those kids that work really hard and they don’t play until late in their career, I don’t think people understand how hard that is,” Dorrel said. “It’s the amount of work they put in. It is easy to work hard if you are playing right away. Just to persevere like that, I am so proud of him.
“I think his individual story is as good as we’ve had at Northwest since I’ve been here.”
In only four games, Christopher has put up all-conference numbers. He has thrown for 1,264 yards, completing 73 percent of his passes. He has tossed 11 touchdowns and thrown only one interception.
Christopher is also willing to run the ball to keep defenses off-balanced. He is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has run for two touchdowns.
“He’s not afraid to run the ball,” Dorrel said. “He likes doing it. He is confident doing it. To me, in college football, if you have a dual-threat quarterback, that is what makes you deadly.”
Because of the play of sophomore quarterback Trevor Adams, Christopher had time to heal without rushing back.
Adams has also started four games and has thrown for 1,288 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Trevor is a great quarterback,” Christopher said. “I think everybody knew that all along. The team knew that before the season. With Adams getting all that experience, it is only going to help us in the long run.”
Christopher hopes the injuries are behind him. He knows they are part of football. But the concussion he suffered late in the fourth quarter against Pittsburg State left him in a weird state.
“I woke up the next morning at my parent’s house and that’s when it hit me that we actually lost to Pitt,” Christopher said. “I really don’t remember a whole lot. It is a strange feeling. It is almost an out-of-body experience. You are not sure what is going on.
“I don’t think you play this game without expecting to get some dings and get hurt at some point. It is one of those things about football. Concussion is a part of it. Our staff does a great job of making sure you are healed before you come back. I have faith in our trainers and coaching staff. They know what they are doing.”
Christopher is enjoying the final few weeks of the regular season. He chuckled when asked if the Bearcats should be the underdogs this week like coach Dorrel said they were last week against Washburn.
“It worked for us last week so we might as well take the same role again,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody else would put us in that role.”
After Saturday’s game, there are just two regular season games left. Even with the injuries, the season is zooming by for Christopher.
When you can put up 52 points against a gritty Washburn defense, it means many things are working right for the Bearcats.
“He has a lot of good people around him who are hungry like David Mosley and Taylor Pierce, and Tyler Shaw is playing at high level,” Dorrel said. “I think we have two good tight ends and then if you can run the ball like we can with our two backs, obviously your play-action passes are going to be a little more open.
“Blake is playing well. I think his position coach does a good job of getting him ready each week. I think Blake takes it into the video room and takes it a step further.”
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