The Northwestern State Demons will wear white at Turpin Stadium for the first time since 1967 when they host the Missouri State Bears Aug. 28.
In what is dubbed the “White Out” game, Demon fans are encouraged to wear white NSU gear.
“We’ll be here in Turpin Stadium and it’s a good thing,” NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. “Our support here has been really fantastic for our home games. We’re just excited about getting it going. A lot of our guys are looking forward to lining up against someone else and we’re kind of tired of beating on each other at this point.”
On the field, NSU and Missouri St. are completing the back end of a home-and-home series for the two squads.
Last season, the Demons opened the Thomas era by traveling to Springfield, Mo. and downing the Bears 23-17 in the first ever meeting between the two schools.
According to Thomas, both teams should know each other well heading into tonight’s tilt.
“Last year was the first for both teams to line up against one another, so there will be a little more familiarity between both squads this year,” Thomas said. “Missouri State is a good football team. They’re well coached.”
Bears head coach Terry Allen enters into his 36th year of coaching that includes 21 years of head coaching experience at Missouri State, Kansas and Northern Iowa.
Last season, the Bears started slowly at 1-6, but won four of their final five games to end the season 5-7 with each win coming in the conference.
“Last year was a physical battle and I expect it to be the same way this go round,” Thomas said. “They’re physical on defense and they’ll give you some multiple looks. They return an All-American safety and both inside linebackers are good football players.”
Senior safety Caleb Schaffitzel was the first Missouri State player to receive first-team Academic All-American honors at the Division I level after recording 111 tackles and four interceptions during the 2013 season.
With an incredible nose for the ball, Schaffitzel had double-digit tackles in six games last season.
“Going into the game [last year], they were replacing some of their offensive line, but they return all those guys this year,” Thomas said. “They have an All-American at center and a couple of preseason All-Conference players on the offensive line.”
Junior center Robert Booker was named as an All-American by the Associated Press and anchors the offensive line.
Last year, the linemen were instrumental in keeping the quarterback upright by only allowing 16 sacks giving time for Kierra Harris and Ashton Glazer to make plays with their arms and feet.
Although Glazer has graduated, Harris is capable to man the quarterback position full time after throwing for 1220 yards and rushing for 329 yards last season.
“He’s a dual threat,” Thomas said. “He can hurt you running and he can hurt you throwing the football. He’s a talented guy.”
For the Demons, the offense begins with senior signal caller Zach Adkins, who returns after throwing for 2726 yards and 21 touchdowns a season ago.
Against the Bears last season, Adkins made the most of his debut by completing 24 of his 37 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown---a 51-yard strike to Shakeir Ryan that would be the deciding score.
“Zach’s really worked on fine-tuning his game in the offseason,” Thomas said. “He had a stellar camp and he’s added some bulk. The ball is hopping out of his hands. He’s a student of the game and a gym rat. He’s really grown a lot and it’s been really neat to watch him grow.”
The Demons and Bears will square off at 6 p.m. in Turpin Stadium.