Bulldog football picks up first two wins of shortened season

The Truman State University faithful can finally cheer on another fall sport that got delayed until this spring, as the Bulldogs’ football season officially kicked off April 1. 

The Bulldogs opened the season with a road victory against Southwest Baptist University, with a final score of 38-20.

Cody Schrader is a running back in his sophomore year returning to play after such a long layoff.

“It’s just great when you get to be back out there with your brothers, your teammates,” Schrader said

The idea of a team has become more flexible, in the way that a team prepares for a new season.

One positive aspect that Schrader noticed is that incoming players had more time to study film and learn the system.

“We lost a lot of big name seniors last season,” Schrader said. “It was almost like a blessing in disguise to give our new guys all that time to prepare.”

Although reviewing film and learning playbooks was made easier with the extended time, other aspects presented a challenge.

Like most collegiate sports this season, weekly COVID-19 testing is mandatory for the football team.

“We do weekly tests every Sunday afternoon,” Schrader said. “I think Truman State [University] has given us a great opportunity to be able to play.”

Another COVID-19 related challenge, Schrader said, was finding ways to stay in shape with so many gyms closed over the summer.

Despite the setbacks presented this season, the team still managed to pick up its previous season success and bring it to 2021.

“I feel like we were firing on all cylinders [Thursday], but we still have a lot to work on as well,” Schrader said.

Although the players were elated to return to the field, Head Coach Gregg Nesbitt was even more enthusiastic about putting his team on the field.

Nesbitt was coming off of a 10-2 record last year and capped the great season off with a bowl victory as well. 

“Personally speaking, it was an awesome feeling,” Nesbitt said regarding playing Thursday. 

However, the head coach described that it was most important for the players to get back to doing what they love. 

It was a sweet return to the field, but even Nesbitt acknowledged the challenge of acclimating new talent into the program.

“It’s a challenge, pandemic or not, with getting new guys situated,” Nesbitt explained. “It still is a lot of fun every time [I] get to do it, though.”

Nesbitt has been coaching for over 10 years, and hasn’t had a season riddled with this kind of universal hindrance. 

The veteran coach still hasn’t given up his nose-to-the-gridiron mentality, however, and Thursday’s win was just the first step.

“Each week, our organizational goal is to go 1-0,” Nesbitt said. “We don’t apologize for it, but we take each game as its own.”

Nesbitt also elaborates on the idea of unforeseen events that can’t be game planned, stating that there are ‘no do-overs’ in sport.

With this way of thinking in mind, the Bulldogs have turned their attention to their home game April 10 against William Jewell College.

“Our guys will be tremendously excited to play anywhere, but certainly at home,” Nesbitt said.

The Bulldogs will trudge through this bizarre season after their 34-15 victory over William Jewell.

They will be in action Thursday against Missouri S&T.