McPherson College football fans will get a glimpse of what to expect this fall on Saturday.
The Bulldogs, coming off a 5-6 season which included a 4-5 mark in the KCAC, will be on display at 2 p.m. at McPherson Stadium in the annual Spring Game.
First-year head coach Steve Fox, who had served as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator before being elevated to the top spot following the resignation of Pete Sterbick, said he plans to keep things pretty simple.
The Bulldogs have been going through the paces in accordance with KCAC rules, which allow 15 spring practices.
“It’s been going pretty good so far,” Fox said. “We’re a little thin in the offensive and defensive lines, but that’s to be expected at this point.”
Fox added that those have been the areas the Bulldogs have concentrated on in recruiting, as he expects 15 newcomers to arrive in August to bolster the ranks.
Fox said the defense has had some bright spots, including Dominique Henderson, Grant Narcisse, Trent Forrester and Ben Kimbrough. The Bulldogs had some outstanding moments on the defensive side last year, including a shutout of Graceland and it allowed only seven points in each of the final two games to Bethany College and Southwestern, respectively.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have plenty of holes to fill after a season where at times they were quite prolific, including 74 points in the final two games.
Jordan Hoffman is coming off a 2,000-yard passing season, but is expected to be pressed by talented redshirt J.T. Levenseller, a transfer from Washington State who was in Bulldog camp throughout last year. However, Levenseller injured a thumb two weeks ago and won’t be in action Saturday.
Running back also is a concern, as expected No. 1 rusher Terrance Jones is still recovering from knee surgery. Highland Juco transfer Austin O’Bannon, one of the all-time leading rushers in McPherson High history, is in the mix. Former Bullpup teammates Collin French and Jaelon Barnes, who also were at Highland last year, are expected to contend this fall for starting roles in the offensive line.
Fox said he’s working with 55 players, which is about the norm around the KCAC. With 35 to 40 newcomers scheduled to arrive in the fall, he’s hoping to have a squad size around 90.
The Bulldogs’ mettle will be tested early, as they open the season with three straight road games. The first two opponents, Bacone College and MidAmerica Nazarene, figure to be nationally ranked. Mac plays at Bethel in the third week for its KCAC opener before finally opening at home against Kansas Wesleyan.