We continue getting to know the Sam Houston State Bearkats as we get ready for the game this Saturday evening. Here, we will take a look at how the offense and defense of Sam Houston State like to play, and see how they matchup with the Bears.
To put it bluntly, this is a rushing offense, pure and simple. But how they run the ball is anything but simple or straight-forward. Sam Houston State rushed for 3839 yards last year, good for 256 yards per game, and they did it from a variety of formations and looks. They utilized quite a bit of Wildcat formations last year, with their multi-position star Richard Sincere leading the way.
The Bearkats like to spread the field as well, and put their play makers in one-on-one situations. They utilize quite a bit of the zone-read in their rushing scheme and use the option as a minor tool. They also do quite a bit of misdirection running plays, such as counters, draws, and trap rushes that are designed to get the defense guessing.
They do pass some, but it is more off of play-action or short screens that are all based off of their rushing attack. Their leading rusher, Tim Flanders also had the most receptions last year, and they use him on screens and flare routes. This was something that the Bears let SMU have with Zach Line in their first game, and something that the Bears will need to adjust. Flanders is much more dangerous in the open field than Line was, and the Bears will need to do a better job of spying on him.
Baylor will need to do as good of a job tackling and hitting as they did in week 1. Stopping the run and making Sam Houston State pass is the key to stopping their offense. If they can rush the ball and keep the clock moving, the Bearkats can keep the Baylor offense off of the field. A couple of 5-7 minute drives for touchdowns is the last thing Baylor fans will want to see early in this game.
I expect to see more of the 4-man front from the Bears this week, especially early. Baylor will need to maintain a strong point of attack and just keep their linebackers and safeties clean to make tackles. I don't expect Baylor to blitz much, as they should have the athletes to keep the Bearkat skill players in front of them.
You can pretty much just call this defense the opposite of a bend-don't break defense. The Bearkats attack the football, and send a bunch of blitzers at the quarterback. They do a good job of staying in their lanes though, and stopping the run, but if you can get past the first line of defense, they can be beat. That is when they depend on their linebackers and safeties to make plays in the middle of the field to stop those big plays.
Sam Houston State recorded 31 sacks last year, just over 2 per game. However, they had 17 players record at least one sack, and no player had more than 5. They will send people from every angle and will try and surprise the Bears offensive protection schemes. In addition to the sacks, they also recorded 133 tackles for loss (8.87 per game). To compare, the Bears averaged just 4.77 tackles for loss per game.
Again, this is a very aggressive defense that depends on their corners to play one-on-one man coverage the majority of the time. The Bears have fared very well against teams like this in the past (cut to Gary Patterson nodding his head), and it will be interesting to see if Sam Houston State stays with what they do best, or try and matchup better with the Bears.
I would expect them to come out hot and heavy at first, and it will be up to Nick Florence and the Bears receivers to read their hot routes, and make the right plays. If the line gives Florence time, expect more of a deep passing game, compared to what we saw at first against SMU. I also expect to see more screens plays and draw plays that take advantage of blitzing teams.