MARYVILLE, Mo. — Opposing offenses’ issues with a rejuvenated Northwest Missouri State generally persist throughout games. But they peak at certain junctures and begin from multiple angles.
For the bulk of the MIAA Conference champion Bearcats’ prolonged late-season statement that included five straight triumphs over winning teams, they’ve unleashed a pass rush that includes league defensive player of the year Matt Longacre outside and first-team All-MIAAer Brandon Yost over center.
Regular presences in offensive backfields, Longacre and Yost have been further bolstered as the MIAA No. 1 defense’s newest — and most high-profile — addition’s playing time increased. The Bearcats (11-0) now possess a rare luxury for this level, and Collin Bevins continues to improve on a team that gave him a second chance after an early-career crisis.
“I feel expectations were high for me coming in, and I knew what I could do as a player. I just wanted to go out and earn these guys’ trust and show I could play with them and play to their speed,” said Bevins, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle who joined Northwest after transferring from Iowa State this summer. “It’s been big for me to come in here and be successful.”
Even though Bevins, who entered the Cyclones’ spring practice period positioned as a starter up front, comes off the bench at his second school, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound underclassman’s one of the key pieces for Super Region 3’s top-seeded team set enjoying its first bye week in four years.
With five sacks — fourth on the Bearcats despite far fewer snaps than the top three rushers on the MIAA’s premier quarterback-coralling team — and ability that once warranted scholarship offers from Iowa and Iowa State, Bevins will present powerful regional opposition with a significant quandary.
“It completely changes what offenses can do,” Longacre said of a multi-layered defensive front that has 33 sacks this season — already more than each of the past three seasonal outputs. “When (the defensive tackles) are getting push, it’s a lot harder to run the ball and during pass, it’s a lot harder for them to step up in the pocket, really puts (quarterbacks) back on their toes and it’s hard for them to throw the ball.
“It’s just huge all around.”
Link to the complete story at the St. Jospeh News-Press at http://bit.ly/18JsKmd.