Sept. 19, 2013
Longacre, Defense Prepare for Tigers on SaturdayFootball vs. Fort Hays State | Saturday, September 21, 2013 | 7 p.m. | Hays, Kan.
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By David Boyce
MARYVILLE, Mo. - A few hours before practice Tuesday afternoon, Northwest Missouri State junior defensive end Matt Longacre was sitting on the couch in one of the assistant coaches office.
Several of his defensive line teammates were in chairs. Some were starters, some second string. All of them were studying film and talking about their next opponent.
Instead of using the free time for a quick nap or a snack, they were treating Fort Hays State like a first-round playoff opponent.
“It is usually about an hour,” Longacre said. “Early on in the week, it is looking at their blocks. Later on, it is kind of game planning, their formation and the kind of plays they run.
“Some people it helps a lot and some don’t think a lot about it. Against Saginaw, we had a couple of things keyed in like where the back was set and if the tackles were doing certain things.”
Northwest, off to a 2-0 start, is focused 100 percent on Fort Hays. The Bearcats take on the Tigers, 0-2, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lewis Field in their first road game of the season.
The Bearcats want to be as prepared as possible when they face Fort Hays. The opponents’ record is irrelevant.
It is the mentality the Bearcats must have over the next month. Northwest’s next four opponents have a combined record of 0-8.
“We can’t take any team for granted,” Longacre said. “Each team is going to play us the best. They all circle us as the team they want to beat. This is their homecoming. We know they are going to come out flying.”
Bearcats realize if they become complacent bad things start to happen.
All the extra film work prepares the Bearcats for the worst-case scenario.
A week ago, Northwest fell behind 17-0 against Central Missouri 10 minutes into the game.
Without the hours of all the volunteer film watching, the defensive players might not have had the trust in each other to put the Mules offense in lockdown mode.
Central scored only one more touchdown the rest of the game.
“A lot of us have been there in the past,” Longacre said. “We played in games like that two years ago when we played at Missouri Western and at Midwestern State. So we know when we get down early, we can’t panic. We really have to get together, calm down and focus. Coaches, they make the right calls.
“We trust each other. That’s all you can do in situations like that.”
The defense is also talented. The Bearcats return a number of starters from last year, both on the line and the secondary.
“It started off in spring ball when we knew we had something pretty special going on,” Longacre said. “We returned a lot of guys. We have a lot of guys step up who haven’t played a lot in the past who are getting to this year. They have made a lot of great plays for us so far.”
Despite a 2-0 record, the Bearcats have had a few miscues, particularly in the first half when they fell behind in both games.
“We have to start strong,” Longacre said.” Hopefully, this week we start strong and don’t get in a 17-0 hole.
“We really try to focus on us and fix the little things we did wrong the past two weeks and fine tune ourselves.”
Anybody who walks past the coaches offices early in the afternoon during the week can see numerous players taking steps to be better on their own time.
It is confirmation that it takes more than talent to win a championship.
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