Portland State football’s 2016 schedule includes the usual number of 11 opponents. But there is one hidden opponent the Vikings don’t see on that schedule and they will come up against every week of the season: Expectations.
The excitement of a break-through 2015 season for PSU lingered through the off-season in the Portland area. Now the Vikings must back up that performance.
That process went into action on Tuesday as the Vikings opened their 2016 camp. Second-year Head Coach Bruce Barnum led the team through two hours of drills during a misty morning session.
Portland State finished 9-3 overall, reaching the NCAA playoffs, and compiling its best record ever in 20 seasons of Division I football. Now the Vikings must avoid the rebound effect that sometimes occurs when a team in any sport exceeds expectations in a given season. Fortunately, the Viking football program has just the answer for handling the inflated expectations for 2016, a head coach with a calm, steady hand to guide the way.
Barnum, the Big Sky Conference and FCS National Coach of the Year in 2015, led the Vikings to a handful of landmark wins over Washington State, North Texas, Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington. Now he must find a way for his program to live up to the lofty expectations of 2016.
“The game has changed for this team,” Barnum said. “All of a sudden Portland State football has become relevant and now they must live up to it. This is why we do it. It sure is a lot more fun.
“Our expectations are for our kids to be great. They know that and we prepare them for it. And that’s not just football. That is from going to class to community service to how they act and represent their school and their team. That is how we reach our expectations as a football program.”
THOMPSON GETS A SCHOLLY: Running back Mitch Thompson walked on to Portland State from Oregon City High School in 2013. Thompson, a diminutive 5-7, 170 pounds, spent a year on scout team, played in one game in 2014, then earned time at special teams and running back in 2015. He had a total of nine tackles on special teams and rushed a total of nine times for 92 yards. His 68-yard breakaway touchdown run in a 66-7 win at North Texas was a highlight in a Viking season filled with highlights. As a result of his growing contributions, Head Coach Bruce Barnum surprised Thompson by presenting him with a scholarship on Sunday night in the team’s first meeting of the season. The presentation brought a raucous celebration from Thompson’s teammates. SEE THE VIDEO AND THOMPSON’S TD RUN
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? A number of Viking players are toiling in NFL camps in preparation for the 2016 season. Here is a list of Vikings on NFL rosters as of Aug. 8.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
DeShawn Shead, DB, Seattle Seahawks
Adam Hayward, LB, Washington Redskins
Patrick Onwuasor, S, Baltimore Ravens
Kameron Canaday, LS, Arizona Cardinals
Sadat Sulleyman, DE/LB, Denver Broncos
Mitchell Van Dyk, OL, Indianapolis Colts
Marquis Jackson, DL, Chicago Bears
Cornelius Edison, C, Chicago Bears
COLEMAN CLEANING UP ON PRESEASON HONORS: Xavier Coleman has received a myriad of honors heading into the 2016 season. Coleman was named preseason All-American by three media outlets: College Sports Madness (1st), College Football Game Plan (2nd) and STATS (3rd). Coleman was also named preseason Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year (College Sports Madness), and preseason All-Big Sky Conference (league media).
Upcoming Portland State Football Pre-Season Practice Schedule
Sun., Aug. 14: Off Day
Mon., Aug. 15: 10 a.m.-Noon
Tues., Aug. 16: 10 a.m.-Noon, 5-6:30 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 17: 4-7 p.m. (scrimmage)