HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Missouri State.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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MVFC (Mo State finished 9th in 2018)
COACH: Dave Steckel – At School: 5th year (12-32) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 1990
2018 OFFENSE: 23.0 ppg. (96th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 36.0 ppg. (103rd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Sept. 21 vs. Kennesaw State: This nonconference game is Missouri State's chance to catch the attention of the FCS. KSU is coming off a trip the quarterfinals and will likely be nationally ranked at the time of this game.
SUM IT UP: The Bears showed some positive flashes last year. They raised eyebrows around the nation in September with two consecutive wins against ranked opponents. Missouri State beat up on No. 20 Northern Arizona 40-8 and then kicked off MVFC play by defeating No. 9 Illinois State 24-21. It also beat Indiana State 29-26 a couple of weeks later, a team that was on the playoff bubble.
But things went downhill from there. The Bears ended the season on a five-game losing streak, losing by 37 points or more in the final three games against opponents that made the playoffs.
Missouri State hasn't had a record over .500 in the 2010s. It's a struggling program, but we feel it has a chance to be more competitive under head coach Dave Steckel.
One emphasis in 2019 is improving the defense after being near the bottom of the FCS with 36 points allowed a game. On paper, it looks like the unit could get much better with nine of its top 11 tacklers returning. Angelo Garbutt and McNeece Egbim are a fantastic duo at linebacker and combined for 195 tackles in 2018. Egbim was named the best player to wear No. 52 in our FCS Kickoff Countdown.
Offensively, Peyton Huslig has started at quarterback the last two seasons. He threw for 2,113 yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2018 while also leading the team with 366 rushing yards and six more scores. The Bears do lose their top running back and to protect Huslig from taking too many hits, Jeremiah Wilson and Donovan Daniels will need to step into bigger roles after combining for 538 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. It'll be key for Missouri State to fill a few holes on the offensive line to get the run game going. Only Casey O'Brien and Matt Platko return up front from the final game last year against Northern Iowa.
The passing attack has a good chance to be a strength of this team. The top four pass catchers are all back in Tyler Currie, Lorenzo Thomas, Jordan Murray and Damoriea Vick.
OUR TAKE: As we said above, this program has a chance to be good and has shown that in spurts. But tough nonconference slates and the brutal schedule in the Valley has kept this team under .500 for a number of years. The Bears stuck with an 11-game schedule in 2019 and it's challenging again. They have a rematch at NAU this year and also travel to FBS Tulane. But keep an eye on that KSU game we discussed above. KSU is rebuilding most of its offense and this could be a statement game for Mo State. We'll need to see what the 2019 squad looks like in the nonconference before determining how much noise it can make in the MVFC. But with the experience coming back, this team should be one year better than its 4-7 overall record.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./LB Angelo Garbutt (All-Conference HM, 99 total tackles)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./LB McNeece Egbim (AC HM, 96 total tackles); Sr./WR Tyler Currie (AC HM, 35 rec. for 548 yards and 5 TDs); So./TE Jordan Murray (MVFC All-Newcomer and HERO Sports Freshman All-American, 33 rec. for 378 yards and 4 TDs); Sr./DE Matt McClellan (MVFC All-Newcomer, 10.5 TFLs and 6 sacks); Sr./QB Peyton Huslig (2,113 passing yards, 13 TDs and 16 INT, 366 rushing yards and 6 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: So./DE Anthony Payne (Kansas State transfer, ranked the 13th-best strongside DE in 2017 by 247Sports)
THE QUOTE: "I'm very excited at this time of year. Through countless hours of evaluation and recruiting, our staff has assembled a strong class that meets the current and future needs of Missouri State football. I can't thank our coaches, their families, and the entire Missouri State community for their unwavering commitment to our program." — head coach Dave Steckel said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Missouri State Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The MVFC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast