Despite delays, cancelations and the shuffling of schedules, the Missouri State football team will play Oklahoma University on Saturday, Sept. 12.
This is a long-awaited event for the program. Coaches and players alike are ready to finally play the game they have been preparing for since early June.
“It feels good,” said head coach Bobby Petrino in his media availability on Monday, Sept. 7. “We’ve put a lot of preparation into the game because of the length of time we’ve had, thinking we were going to play in the last weekend of August.”
It’s no secret that Oklahoma is a college football powerhouse. Over the last five seasons, OU has averaged 40 or more points per game, produced two Heisman Trophy winners and made four College Football Playoff appearances.
The MSU defense will have the tall task of stopping the prolific OU offense. Petrino is not asking the defense to be world-beaters; he’s just asking for effort.
“It’s gonna be a tremendous challenge. There’s no question about that,” Petrino said. “What’s important for us is that our guys can really understand what we’re asking them to do and play fast and fearless.”
On the other side of the ball, Petrino addressed the progression of the offensive line in its preparation for OU.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Petrino said. “The defensive line is ahead of the offensive line right now. We’re a working process as far as the offensive line goes. The encouraging thing is they play hard.”
Another part of the team that has made progress is the mentality of the team as a unit. Petrino is impressed with how his team has handled preparing for a football game in their current circumstances.
“They’ve shown a tremendous amount of dedication and toughness with this crazy pandemic that’s going on,” Petrino said. “Every day is a challenge. Every day is something new. They’ve done a great job of just being able to focus on learning and focus on going out on the field and playing really hard.”
Before the official depth chart was released on Wednesday, Sept. 9, Petrino announced that senior cornerback transfer Jeremy Webb would be starting alongside senior cornerback Zack Sanders.
“He’s tall and long and got really good feet,” Petrino said. “He’s got great instincts, so you’ll see him starting in the game.”
Other notable starters alongside Webb are redshirt freshman quarterback and newly appointed team captain Jaden Johnson, junior running back Myron Mason and redshirt freshman linebacker Lucas Eatman.
The program has shown marked improvement since Petrino’s arrival. However, it will take a lot for this team to go into Norman and upset the Sooners. Petrino’s main takeaway from the game will not be a win or a loss but rather the preparation process, as well as improving individually and as a team.
“First and foremost is going through the preparation and learning how we go about our business and the process it takes to get ready to play a game,” Petrino said. “We have to learn how we can execute and put things together. We have to learn how to do our job and rely on our teammates to do theirs.”
MSU will play OU in Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. CST.