The second game of the 2012 football campaign will feature an emerging football power-house Texas school. The Bearkats of Sam Houston State are an emerging power in the Football Championship Series, falling in the National Championship game to North Dakota State last season for their only loss.
SHS bring back a very experienced team next year, losing just 5 senior starters, including their kicker. They return 10 players with 20 or more starts. They are the odds on favorite to win the FCS crown this year. This is a good football team that will be coming to Waco, TX. Are they good enough to beat a FBS squad on their home field? Absolutely.
Last Year- 14-1 (8-0), Lost in FCS Championship Game
Conference Membership- Sunbelt Conference
Coach- Willie Fritz, 3rd year, 20-6 at SHS, 117-53 overall
Spring Practice Dates- Spring Game, April 18th
Major Forums- www.gobearkats.com
Returning starters- 9 starters
Key Losses- Travis Watson, Center; Chris Crockett, Guard;This was the best offense in FCS last year, behind a spectacular rushing attack. Sam Houston State runs a spread option offense that averaged 255 yards per game rushing and 152 yards passing per game.
They are returning a very experienced offense, with Brian Bell, their 3nd year starting quarterback coming back for his Junior season. This year though, they are going to a more up-tempo version of the spread, and will feature a no-huddle offense. Behind the switch is new offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, from Western Illinois.
Last year, the running game carried the Bearkats to their finest season ever. They featured Tim Flanders, who finished with 1644 yards rushing and 24 total touchdowns. He was named the conference player of the year. He also added 34 receptions which led the team, and 414 receiving yards which was good for third on the team. Flanders is a Kansas State transfer who red-shirted for the Wildcats in 2009 and then transferred to Sam Houston.
Alongside him are two dangerous wide receivers. The first is Richard Sincere, who had 485 receiving yards, but added 979 rushing yards as well, primarily off of the Wild BearKat formation that they ran last season quite a bit. He threw very little last season, completing just 1 of his 5 pass attempts, so this is primarily a running formation.
Alongside him is their best pass catcher in Torrance Williams, who averaged 14.6 yard per reception and is their deep threat.
Guiding all of these very dangerous offensive weapons is Brian Bell. The starter at quarterback since the 3rd game of his freshman season, Bell has guided the Bearkats offense better each season. With this being more of a rushing offense, Bell last season only averaged 147 yards per game in the air, but had 20 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. He also ran the ball effectively, gaining good yardage each time he had a rushing play called.
With the new offensive system in place, it will be interesting to see what they do differently. According to what I have read, they had a bit more movement in the new offense, and also tried to get the passing game going more. They also put in more plays for the tight end in the offense.
Returning starters- 9 starters
Key Losses- David Kash, Linebacker; Will Henry, Linebacker; Ed DeCambre, Defensive End
The Bearkats use a 4-3 defense/4-2-5 defense that forced an FCS high 42 turnovers last year, including 23 interceptions. They return 9 of their main starters, and 15 guys that started at least 1 game. They play with a lot of speed and activity, and will swarm after the ball carrier.
SHS had the 2nd ranked scoring defense (14.93 ppg), 3rd in total defense (279.93 yards per game) and the 4th ranked pass efficiency defense. Where they really excelled at was stopping the run, allowing an FCS fewest 72.9 yards per game on the ground.
Sam Houston State returns all 5 of their defensive backfield starters, featuring conference defensive player of the year, Safety Darnell Taylor. Taylor was their leading tackler last season with 128 tackles, and added 3 sacks and 1 interception. Alongside him is Kenneth Jenkins at safety and their two starting cornerbacks.
The Bearkats are returning their top 3 tacklers and six of their top 7 overall tackle leaders. They also are returning a bunch of their sack leaders. The only game I saw of theirs was the national championship, and they use a lot of different players to blitz.
They did not send 6 or more any times, but they sent the 5th guy from a bunch of different places. The stats prove they did this throughout the season. They had 16 players with at least 1 sack, but had no one over 5. They had 31 sacks on the season and that goes along with their aggressive defensive philosophy. They keep the ball carrier up and try to get the ball out, which led to 21 fumbles last season.