Glenn Landberg


Andrew Ford

After nine months without football, the toughest obstacle facing the Missouri Southern Lions may be the fact they’ll be facing an opponent other then themselves.

“Yesterday there were coaches for the first time in eight months saying game week, and it was kind of foreign to us really,” said senior quarterback Adam Hinspeter.

The Lions first challenge will be against a Harding University team they dominated last year, up 38-7 after the first half and finishing 48-20.

“It’s time now here in the first week to kind of, figure out how good we are after all that training, after spring ball and summer conditioning,” Hinspeter said.

The Bison won five of their last six games and were ranked third nationally in passing offense and second in the Gulf South Conference in total offense in 2007.

Entering 2008, Harding is ranked 22nd by the Sporting News and received votes in the AFCA coaches poll.

Orchestrating the Bison’s offense is David Knighton, the 2007 GSC Offensive Player of the Year. Knighton amassed more than 3,000 yards on nearly 300 completions with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Fans should be interested to see which Bison quarterback shows up; the one that played most of last season or the one that struggled heavily against the Lions last year.

In last year’s game, Knighton was 24-for-35, but with three interceptions, part of a turn-over-prone offense that also included four fumbles with half of them ending up in Southern’s hands.

The number of turnovers last year, five, is likely in the mind of a Southern defense that was top in the MIAA last year. It certainly is for senior cornerback Jordan Patton.

“We aim for turnovers in every game,” Patton said. “We have a minimum of five turnovers that we have to do or we do bears after practice.”

One of the most interesting match ups of the night could be 5-foot-7 Patton lined up against 6-foot-5 Bison wide receiver Kurt Adams.

“Height plays a big factor, but you know, we have a defense that doesn’t allow things like that to get to us,” Patton said. “I know I’m a short corner and height doesn’t make a difference to me because you have to put yourself in a position to make a play. No matter how tall or how short you are, you still have to make a play.”

When Head Coach Bart Tatum was asked if there was any way the players were overlooking Harding to the next game, he let out a roar of laughter and said “No, sir.”

“The assumption you make going into a season is that everyone gets better, that’s the assumption,” he said.

“At least in our philosophy, in our way of doing things. So where we stack up, that’s what we begin to get a much clearer picture of on Saturday.”

With three potent Bison receivers in Zac Ross, Kurt Adams and Alan Webster, it won’t take long for the Bison to score. Whether or not they can keep the ball is another matter.