March 20, 2013
Bearcat football spring preview: Offense
Just one season removed from putting up record setting numbers on offense, the Northwest Missouri State football team continued its prolific scoring pace in 2012. Since taking over as the offensive coordinator before the 2007 season, Head Coach Adam Dorrel’s squad has scored over 600 points three times and averaged 40.7 points per game.
Last season, the Bearcats led the MIAA with 41.91 points per game – fourth best in NCAA-II – and have finished first in scoring in the MIAA four of the last five seasons. With most of the offense returning intact, Dorrel will look for the experience gained in 2012 to add depth to an offensive line that was depleted early in the season by injuries.
Another vital position race for the Bearcats will take place at receiver. The Northwest wide receiving core looks to replace Tyler Shaw and John Hinchey. Five Bearcats finished the season with over 300 yards receiving, however, Shaw, Hinchey and Bryce Young were the only receivers of that group.
Although the versatility of Jordan Simmons may not be found in the backfield this spring, the Bearcats continue to have one of the deepest stables of running backs in the MIAA. Although a 700-yard season is admirable, senior James Franklin will look to duplicate a season similar to his 1,200-yard campaign in 2011.
Not only are the Bearcat running backs a group of dynamic athletes, but they enter spring workouts extremely tested. Returning with Franklin is senior Billy Creason and junior Kohlman Adema-Schulte. The trio has a combined 590 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in 13 playoff games for the Bearcats.
An impressive mix of power and speed best describes the group of Creason, Franklin and Adema-Schulte, which would make a unique law firm name. Northwest also enters with a number of red-shirt freshmen that should push the trio and help make the Bearcat backfield one of the best in the MIAA.
The Bearcat quarterback position starts and ends with senior Trevor Adams. Adams enters 2013 as a two-year starter with three playoff wins under his belt and was a team captain in 2013. The Odessa, Texas native improved nearly all of his numbers in his junior campaign throwing for 2,515 – 300 yards more than his 2011 total – and moved into the top 10 on the all-time list for passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage at Northwest.
Although Adams enters as the starter, talented sophomore quarterback, Brady Bolles – brother of former Bearcat quarterback Blake Bolles – enters as the No. 2 on the depth chart.
Bolles saw action in 10 games for the Bearcats with the majority of snaps coming in the absence of an injured Adams against Fort Hays State and Nebraska-Kearney. The multitalented Bolles became the first Bearcat quarterback to rush for 100 yards and pass for 100 yards in the same game in over a decade as Northwest defeated Fort Hays State in his first career start.
Also entering the mix is red-shirt freshman Kyle Zimmerman. Bearcat coaches saw a lot of improvement from Zimmerman who should continue to improve and hopefully push Adams and Bolles both this fall.
Possibly the biggest question mark for spring practices at Northwest will be ‘Who will emerge at wide receiver?’ The last two seasons the Bearcats have lacked consistency at receiver and need more production to continue the prolific offensive numbers they are accustomed to.
With Bryce Young as the only wide receiver to finish with more than 100 yards receiving last season, the Bearcats have considerable holes to fill.
Although the Northwest offense runs a spread style system that distributes the ball to a number of receivers and backs, only two touchdowns return from the receiving corps – both of which are from Young. Receivers that have seen action include senior Clint Utter and junior Jason Jozaites but the pair combined for only seven catches last season. The consistency of Utter and Jozaites could determine this unit’s outlook considerably.
As coaches continue to challenge the Bearcat pass catchers to improve and get tougher, as many as eight different receivers will vie for experience this spring while hoping it turns into playing time in the fall. The work ethic of this group will play an important role in 2013, as the Bearcat coaching staff will look for the right mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen to make another postseason run.
One of the most competitive position battles on either side of the ball will take place at tight end. Joel Gantz stepped up in 2012 by proving his worth as a starting tight end for the Bearcats. The senior caught just eight passes however a two tight end front by the Bearcats saw more blocking assignments than in recent years.
Continuing with the theme of spring practice, adding depth and a second tight end will be crucial for the Bearcats.
Dorrel speaks highly of the athletic group that includes Mike Kastel, Alex Visk, Brock Behrndt and Creighton Morris leading to one of the deepest positions for the Bearcats.
Only losing one starter makes for high expectations on the offensive line for the Bearcats. All-America Rod Williams leaves an open spot at left tackle; however, the Bearcats return a group that has seen lots of game action.
A healthy C.J. Keeney returns along with two-year starter Cole Chevalier at center. Six other Bearcats also saw significant action on the offensive line last year, including several starts throughout the season.
Among the returners include: Cody Carlson, Jake Scarbo, John Petroff, Bryce Johnston, Shane Smith and Savontae Brown.
Dorrel also sees a number of linemen in backup roles that will continue to push the veteran group all season.
Entering the spring Dorrel – whose responsibility is the offensive line – feels better about the depth up front after five red-shirt freshmen tested well during offseason workouts. Zach Callahan, Luke Guenther, Jamie Thieman, Dylan Morris and Chase Sherman could not only push the veterans in the spring, but see valuable playing time in the fall.
Check back Thursday for Part 4 of 4, as we take a look at an impressive defense that finished second in NCAA-II in scoring defense and returns six starters from last season.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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