Still looking for their first win of the season, the Bears face one of their stiffest challenges this week when they pay a visit to the 17-th ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs in Perkinston Thursday night. The Bulldogs enter the game with a 4-2 mark (2-1 in the MACJC South) after last week's 52-30 win over Mississippi Delta while the Bears are 0-6 (0-3) after a 30-17 Homecoming loss to Pearl River. Bears head coach Tucker Peavey said he is Gulf Coast is "a very talented football team. (They have) good size on the line of scrimmage (and they have) skill guys with good length and can run. They are an all-around good football team." In order for the Bears to come out on top in the game, Peavey said the Bears have "to eliminate a couple of those issues we have last week. We've got to limit their big plays and, of course, we've got to get rid of our turnover issues. We were a little better last week, but still, the only thing that's good is not turning the ball over." Peavey said his team needs to keep playing hard. "I think their effort's been good. We've just got to eliminate those little fundamental things that can make the difference in a ball game." Defensively, the Bulldogs are allowing only 125 rushing yards per game while giving up 237.8 through the air. So, will the Bears go in with plans to beat their hosts with the pass and hope they can surprise them with a few big runs? Offensive coordinator Cam Achord said the Bears will certainly have "to be able to run the football. I know they're not giving up much yardage on the ground. However, if you can't run the ball, then they can definitely load up and stop the pass. I thought we ran the ball a little better this past week than we've been doing (and) we've got to be able to continue that." "Obviously, when the pass plays present themselves and there are some open holes out there," Achord continued, "we've got to be able to throw and catch (the ball)." Achord said the Bears coaches "continue to stress trying to take care of the football. Because if we don't continue to beat ourselves we're going to be ok offensively. But, as far as their run game and pass game, we're going to try to establish the run and then take what they give us in the pass game. I think there are some holes out there, we've just got to find them." Defensively, the Bears face one of the more potent running attacks in the league this week. The Bulldogs are recording just over 302 yards on the ground (while getting only 117 via the pass). Defensive coordinator Kelby Bowman said the Bears will have to have a plan of trying to slow down the ground game and force the Bulldogs to pass. "I think that has to be the plan," Bowman stated. "They've always had a really good running game and they have (it) this year. They have two really good running backs and they can run the ball well." Deandre Torrey (5' 10", 190) had picked up 832 yards, with nine touchdowns, on 122 carries. Terrion Avery has carried the ball 88 times for 515 yards and three scores. "Yes, definitely, we're going to have to stop the run this week and we're going to have to put a lot more emphasis (on that)," Bowman continued. "But, we must keep in mind they also have some receivers that can go get it. They can catch the ball and score touchdowns." Bowman said his unit "is looking forward to the challenge" they face Thursday night. "We know Gulf Coast is a good football team. They're good every year. Our kids are going to have to be up for this game and I think they're ready for the challenge." Kickoff at A. L. May Memorial Stadium in Perkinston is set for 7:00. The game can be heard on WAKH 105.7 FM (K106). It will also be available on k106.net and southwestbearathletics.com.
Michael D. Gunnell
SMCC Sports Information Director