Football enters season with high expectations

The football team is entering 2019 with high expectations. In the GLVC coach’s poll, they were picked third in their conference. 

Truman State University received 37 total points in the poll. They also received one of eight first-place votes. The defending champion, University of Indianapolis, was at the top of the poll, receiving the remainder of the first-place votes. Lindenwood University was picked second in its first season in the GLVC. 

The Truman football team is coming off a season in which they finished 6-5 overall and 5-2 in the GLVC, which earned them third in the conference. This was an unexpected result considering how the season began. They began the season with three losses out of the GLVC, but quickly bounced back in the next game against Valparaiso University, a Div. I (FCS) opponent. That win kicked off a six-game winning streak. However, with a chance to win the GLVC outright, the Bulldogs lost the final two games against the University of Indianapolis and Missouri S&T. 

The team has not been able to reach the same heights they did when they won a share of the GLVC championship in 2016. In that season, the Bulldogs finished 8-3 overall and 7-1 in conference en route to a share of the GLVC crown with Southwest Baptist University. 

Head football coach Gregg Nesbitt is entering his tenth season for the Bulldogs. He has a career record of 49-49 with Truman and is five wins away from being the third-winningest coach in program history. 

“Well, generally the expectations never really change,” Nesbitt said. “We’d like to be the best football team we can be, whatever that looks like. Specifically, we’ve got our fair share of experience. We’ve got as many as what we call ten starters back on defense. We’ve been pretty solid over the past six years from a defensive perspective.”

 Nesbitt went on to talk about the high level of defense that Truman has been playing for the past several seasons. 

“Offensively, I think as many as eight starters back,” Nesbitt said. “Certainly very specifically you’ve got two of the all-time greats in Jaden Barr and Jordan Salima. We’ve got some depth at both those positions and at wide receiver. We’ve got to turn over our offensive line. We just returned two starters, so we have some work to do there.”

He did not put much stock in the preseason poll. 

“This is my 40th year and what you or I think of each other going into the season isn’t going to matter when we tee it up and play football,” Nesbitt said. “We’ve been first or second four of the six years we’ve been in the league, so we’ve certainly had a chance to consistently compete at a pretty high level and we certainly hope to this year.”

2019 will be the senior season for many star players including quarterback Jaden Barr, running back Jordan Salima and defensive lineman Sam Reeves. All these players will try to end their careers with a big season for Truman.

Reeves became Truman’s all-time leader in tackles for loss last season. He is also one sack away from becoming Truman’s all-time leader in sacks. 

Salima also ranks highly in all-time Truman stats where he is eighth and 11th in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns respectively. 

Finally, Barr is coming off a season in which he set a Truman record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback. He is also in the top 10 all-time in school history for nearly every passing statistic. 

The season kicks off Sept. 7 at Drake University. The home opener is the following week when the Bulldogs take on Wayne State at Stokes Stadium. GLVC play opens Sept. 28 at Quincy.