5 Players to Watch - Sam Houston State

Who should the Bears watch out for this Saturday against Sam Houston State? Get to know some of the Kats inside BearsIllustrated.com

Let's start getting ready for the game this Saturday by taking a look at Sam Houston State. The second ranked team in the FCS division comes into Waco this Saturday evening looking to build on a break-out campaign in 2011, as the Baylor Bears look to continue their 2012 season on a winning note. Here, we take a look at 5 key players for the Bearkats and how they use them.

Tim Flanders - RB
Week 1 Stats: 15 rushes, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns

One of the top running backs in FCS, Flanders is pretty much the exact opposite of the runner the Bears faced in week 1, Zach Line of SMU. The 5-9 Junior from Midwest City, Oklahoma is a former Kansas State Wildcat, and transferred to Sam Houston after sitting out his true freshman year at KSU in 2009.

Flanders got off to a great start when he got down to Huntsville, earning Southland Conference "Freshman of the Year" in 2010 with 948 yards and 13 touchdowns. Flanders built on those numbers and became the Southland Conference "Player of the Year" and led the conference in rushing (109.6 yards per game) and scoring (144 points) and finished 2nd in all purpose yards per game with 137.2.

Flanders is a small and quick one-cut back who can be a threat out of the backfield on dump off passes. He does a good job of getting lost behind his offensive line and finding a crease to gain yards. Despite his limited size, he does a good job of finishing runs and getting those extra yards at the end of the play.

Brian Bell - QB
Week 1 Stats: 12-19 passing, 157 yards, 2 touchdowns, 7 rushes, 28 yards

If the name sounds familiar, it should to Baylor fans. He is the brother of former Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell and grew up in the same China Springs system under their father, Mark Bell. Brian returns as a 3rd year starter, after ranking second in the Southland conference in passing efficiency in 2011. Bell threw for 2069 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, while also rushing for 266 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Bell is similar to Nick Florence, in that he is not an elite runner or athlete with tremendous speed, but he is a capable threat out of the back field and can take advantage of defenses leaving him to focus on the running back on the zone/read play.

Bell will be depended on to lead a new more up-tempo scheme that the Bearkats unveiled this season. Last year, Sam Houston State attempted 46.67 rushing attempts per game, and just 18.26 passing attempts per game. Will this new offense allow for more passing attempts? In their only game this year, the Bearkats attempted 50 rushes and just 20 passes, but it is hard to tell what their true offense will look like, since this game was a blow-out win.

Darnell Taylor - S
Week 1 Stats: 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 1 pass broken up

As you can see, Darnell Taylor is a man that does a lot on the field for Sam Houston State. He does a little bit of everything from his spot in the back of the defense. The returning defensive player of the year for the Southland Conference led the Bearkats in tackles last year with 128, and also added 3 sacks and an interception.

Taylor will move all around the defensive formation and will rush quite a bit as both a pass rusher and a run stopper. They depend on him to lead the defense and make big lays for them. At 6'0 and 195 pounds, he is a bit undersized when close to the line of scrimmage, but he plays much bigger than he looks.

Darius Taylor - LB
Week 1 Stats: 9 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

The other Taylor on this defense is just as good from his linebacker position. Taylor is a multi-year starter for Sam Houston State, and brings good experience to their defense. He is a good sized linebacker at 6'0 tall and 240lbs. He plays strong and is good against the run. The Bears will have to make sure they get a lineman on him, because if they let him roam free, he has the size and speed to bring any of the Baylor ball-carriers down.

Taylor is the key man in their defensive scheme up front, as they use him to run the front 7 in their 4-3 or 4-2-5 schemes. They play multiple fronts and move guys around quite a bit. They are excellent and forcing pressure and turnovers, and Darius is a big part of that.

Richard Sincere - WR/RB/QB
Week 1 Stats: 2 rushes for 8 yards, 0-1 passing, 1 reception for 30 yards

Sincere is another player that will play all over the field for Sam Houston State, this time though on the offensive side of the ball. He primarily lines up at receiver, but last year got quite a bit of action on counters, reverses, and bubble screens. He rushed for 979 yards last year on 129 attempts and caught 26 balls for 484 yards and totaled 13 touchdowns. Sincere even attempted 5 passes last year, and personally, I expect to see him attempt a few passes this weekend against Baylor.

The Junior athlete is the player that runs the "WildKat" formation and handled the ball quite a bit last year. He is a strong player that is more quick than a pure speed guy. He can make people miss in space, and is tough to handle in the open field.

Bears Illustrated Top Stories