Football season has finally arrived, and it wasn’t a pretty start for the Bears.
MSU headed out to Flagstaff, Arizona, for its first game of the season and returned home with more questions than answers for fans.
First of all, the Bears lost to a team they beat 40-8 just last year. This year, under a first-year head coach, Northern Arizona defeated Missouri State 37-23.
There were highs and lows.
A high point: senior quarterback Peyton Huslig didn’t throw any interceptions in Game 1. Last year, he threw four.
Head coach Dave Steckel said turnovers were something the Bears wanted to improve on. Huslig did that.
Rushing was a low for the Bears last week.
Last year, they had almost 300 rushing yards against NAU. They had 40 this year. The Bears have plenty of running backs capable of putting up good numbers.
Junior running back Donovan Daniels had 16 carries against the Lumberjacks on Thursday night for 26 yards, but a net total of 9 yards. Redshirt freshman transfer DJ Frost had six carries for 19 yards.
Redshirt sophomore running back Myron Mason also returned to the Bears this season. Mason played in 11 games and recorded two touchdowns during his true freshman season before redshirting his sophomore year due to an offseason injury.
MSU also had six receivers with two or more catches. Senior wide receiver Tyler Currie and Frost each recorded touchdowns for the Bears.
Huslig, who threw 20 completions for 289 yards, had a strong second half after a shaky first — 218 of his passing yards came in the second half.
He looked uncomfortable at first, but working with an entirely new offensive line might have partially contributed to that.
The defense also had several plays of their own that had the possibility of looking completely different than last year.
They held the Lumberjacks to just 88 rushing yards after opponents averaged 222.5 rushing yards last year.
One of the biggest struggles that the defense has to overcome before facing Tulane on Sept. 14 is penalties. Of 11 penalty calls, nine were defensive mistakes. Being the first game of the season, it was expected that players would be a little jumpy. If that continues into the season, though, it could cause many problems for the Bears.
Despite the challenges, there were plenty of moments that showed the Bears have promise for the season ahead.
The Bears have a bye this week, so they have plenty of time to prepare for a trip to New Orleans on Sept. 14.