The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 28, 2012

Gorillas set for spring game

By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer

— Pittsburg State head coach Tim Beck said his Gorillas have accomplished what they set out to do this spring.

They’ve competed, practiced hard and, for the most part, avoided injuries.

Today’s spring game — 10 a.m. at Carnie Smith Stadium — is the proverbial cherry on top.

“It’s been a pretty good spring,” said Beck, entering his third season as head coach. “We’ve gone at it and stayed focused. We weren’t practicing for long periods of time. We were physical and the bottom line is we were learning what we need to do to be ready for the fall.”

Anthony Abenoja, a sophomore who will take over at quarterback for Zac Dickey, gets his first shot of the year to put his arm on display for the fans after being named a team captain earlier this week.

“The big thing was starting life after Zac Dickey,” Beck said. “We felt like we had a good idea how things would be coming into the spring and Anthony has done a tremendous job and in turn was voted a team captain.

“That’s been a positive. He’s had a really good spring.”

Beck said the Gorillas will not alter the offense — which was keyed by the speedy Dickey last year — for the pass-first Abenoja.

“Things will stay the same,” Beck said. “I think we’ll try to be a more balanced team ... passing is Anthony’s strong suit. He can read defenses and throw hot routes. We’ll try to be pretty balanced for the most part.”

Beck said each squad will run “80 or 90” plays during today’s scrimmage.

“The biggest thing is just not making a lot of mistakes,” he said. “We want to get in and out of the huddle, not be jumping offsides ... just play cleanly.”

The Gorilla defense, much like the offense, returns some big names and some new faces. Beck said the coaching staff was looking forward to one final look at some of those new faces today, particularly cornerbacks Graylon Sanders and De’Vante Bausby.

Sanders is a 5-11, 191-pound senior transfer from Northwest Missouri. Bausby is a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Kansas City Hogan Prep.

“We’ve been back and forth on defense,’ he said. “We’ll have days where we look dominant and then we’ll drop off. We’re talented defensively. We lost some guys ... but we’ve got some guys stepping up.

Conner Combes — a 6-foot-5, 249-pound senior tight end — has been the lone serious injury of the spring thus far. Beck said he suffered a knee injury,