The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Beyond the Box Score

October 26, 2012

BLOG: Injuries have hurt Pitt State secondary

It's no secret that for the last five quarters of the season -- the fourth quarter against Northwest Missouri and all four quarters against Missouri Western -- the Pitt State defense has struggled.

To be fair, a good chunk of the 84 points scored against PSU in those 75 minutes had little to do with the Gorilla defense. Northwest used a pair of turnovers to set up scores with short fields. Missouri Western had an interception return for a touchdown and then benefited twice when Pitt State -- trying desperately to get something going in the second half -- tried and failed to go for it on fourth down deep in its own territory.

That's a quick 35 points that came as a result of a turnover or a short field.

Still, the Pitt State defense is on the ropes.

A big reason for the uncharacteristic slump is the situation in the secondary.

The Gorillas are already without starting safety Chas Smith. Smith -- for all intents and purposes -- is done for the year, never having fully recovered from a torn ACL last season, when he earned All-MIAA honors despite playing in just six full games.

Keeston Terry -- a transfer from KU -- filled in nicely and had a pair of interceptions this season before a leg injury of his own kept him out against Northwest and Western. Deron Washington likely would have been a replacement and would have seen increased playing time, but he's inactive with a knee injury.

The result?

While the Gorillas haven't given up huge passing numbers -- 192 to Northwest and 213 to Missouri Western -- Bearcat and Griffon receivers were able to burn the PSU secondary for big plays, including the first two touchdowns that sparked Western to its improbably explosive first half.

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