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Missouri State Defensive Preview: Back to the Basics

The Pokes open the season in the Boone with the Bears. Pistol Pete is going hunting.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After a heartbreaking and eye-opening loss to Florida State, Oklahoma State returns to the House That Boone Built to gain an even footing on its season record. Next up are the Missouri State Bears, and the Pokes will have to avoid the "Big Game Hangover" if they don't want to follow in the footsteps of Iowa State.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears will have a few threats should JW Walsh want to sling the ball through the air. Caleb Schaffitzel snagged four interceptions last season, returning one for a touchdown. He will be aided by Jeremy Springer, who last season only caught two passes, but returned those for an average of 42.5 yards and scored one touchdown.

Schaffitzel is also the Bears' returning defensive star, leading the team with 109 total tackles and averaging at least one sack per game. He will be joined by Brandon Cheaton, 61 total tackles and averaging three tackles for loss, and Martin Montgomery, who while only earning 35 tackles, averaged 5.5 TFL for 29 yards.

As a whole unit, the Bears typically hold opponents to an average of 23 points per game. However, they've graduated a large number of seniors from last season, so they're a young team with a plethora of question marks that makes OSU's beginning-of-season queries look near-comical. But they are not an opponent to take lightly. Missouri State is a young team in the lower tier of football with nothing to lose, so the Cowboys will need to take care of business early to keep from repeating Iowa State's fate from last week.

If JW Patton and friends stay focused like they were against FSU, fans should be able to see Gundy in visor time relatively early, maybe a Daxx Garman sighting, and the Pokes coasting to victory.