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Interview with the Enemy: Missouri State

We chat with Wyatt Wheeler about the Bears’ QB, and how they could give the Cowboys problems

NCAA Football: Missouri State at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State will open the 2018 season with a scrimmage real game against Missouri State on Thursday. This will be the eighth time the two teams have squared off, with Oklahoma State undefeated in the match-ups so far.

To learn a little bit more about the Bears, I reached out to Wyatt Wheeler, a Missouri State grad who covers the team for the Springfield News-Leader.

The Bears are entering year four under Head Coach Dave Steckel, the former defensive coordinator at Missouri. So far he’s gone just 8-25 in his rebuilding job.

One surprising thing I learned from Wyatt, is that Missouri State plays in what’s considered “the SEC of the FCS.” The Missouri Valley Football Conference includes FCS powerhouse North Dakota State and South Dakota State, as well as South Dakota and Northern Iowa. All four of those teams made the FCS play-off last year. Plus, there’s Youngstown State.

All that aside the Bears, and fans, are expecting to take a few steps forward in the program this year.


Phillip Slavin: Let’s start with this; What are the strengths of this Missouri State team?

Wyatt Wheeler: “I really like the linebackers. They’ve got Angelo Garbutt, McNeese Egbim, two outside linebackers. Garbutt is a transfer from Iowa. He gets to the ball pretty well, he’s pretty quick. And them Egbim on the other side, he’s right up there with him. So they’ve got some pretty good linebackers. Steckel has always been known for producing some good linebackers, back to his DC days at Mizzu. I really just say the linebackers right now because there’s so much uncertainty on offense. I really like they’re offensive line. They have a lot of returners. They’ve been pretty much the best part of the team for the past three years I’d say, and they’ve got four returners. I think they have a talented offensive line that they’re pretty excited about, and I can’t blame ‘em.

PS: Let’s talk about quarterback Peyton Huslig. What are some of the strengths he’ll bring to Stillwater on Thursday?

WW: Peyton Huslig the quarterback, he’s shown to be a lot more comfortable with the offense they’re running. They’re throwing in a little RPO stuff going into this week and this season. Preseason stuff we’ve seen he’s looked a lot more comfortable. He;s pretty athletic, he led the team in rushing last season. And he’s not the worst passer either. If they can stay away from too basic of an offense and let him throw the ball downfield, and he’s making the right decisions, I think he can be pretty good. His athleticism definitely sticks out. He’s been a winner. He transferred over from garden city community college, before last season. He led them to a National Championship his first year there, and then I believe he was state runner-up in high school. He’s a winner and last year was a little different for him. I think his athleticism sticks out a lot.

PS: Who are a couple of defensive players that might stand out?

WW: I really like Matt McCllelan. He’s a new guy they just got this off-season, a junior college transfer. In the scrimmages he’s been a starting defensive end. McClellan, he’s kind of skinny, but he’s got some long arms and he can get to the quarterback pretty quickly. He’s someone I could see having a really good year. They’ve got two pretty big defensive tackles in the 4-3, that plug up the middle pretty well. Then their other defensive end is a kind of stockier, not really a pass-rush guy, but he can stop the run. So I could see this new defensive line surprising.

The secondary hasn’t been too impressive over the years. Darius Joseph was one of their all-conference teams at the beginning of this year. Nothing’s really stuck out with them the past few years so that should be interesting.

PS: Obviously, there’s no assumption that Missouri State is going to win this game. But, is there a spot they could give Oklahoma State some challenges?

WW: “Yeah. If you look back to that Mizzou game, their opener last season. They went up to Columbia and they actually gave them some fits in the first half. Mizzou’s defense was just all out of whack, and the game ended up being like 70-40. MSU had a lead at the end of the first quarter and led most of the second quarter. I think maybe, MSU could do some things, if Oklahoma State’s not ready for some of it. if these receivers are ready to break out, a bunch of new guys. The offense can be explosive at times. That would be the only chance. Maybe if they get some turnovers. MSU picked off Drew Locke a couple of times last year in the first half. If they can create a couple of turnovers off Taylor Cornelius, I think maybe they can give them a nice little fight for a half or so.