Sam Houston State Scouting Report: Defense

Fast-moving offense puts a lot of pressure on Bearkats' rebuilt 4-2-5 defense.

Saturday marks the home opener for No. 12 %%MATCH_16%% (1-0) when the Tigers welcome FCS foe Sam Houston State (1-1) into Death Valley for a 6:39 p.m. kickoff. The SEC Network will have the live television broadcast.

Yesterday TSD’s Hunter Paniagua took a look at the Bearkats’ high-powered offense, one which gunned its way to an astounding 105 plays last week in a home win over Alabama State.

Today I’ll bring our SHSU Scouting Reports full-circle with an examination of the Bearkats’ 4-2-5 defense under co-coordinators Mike Collins and Brad Sherrod.

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PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

DE (rush): Mouf Adebo (So., 6-1, 230)
NT: Gary Lorance (Sr., 6-0, 271)
DT: Sione Latu (So., 6-0, 276)
DE: P.J. Hall (R-Fr., 6-1, 270)
WLB: Myke Chatman (So., 6-2, 216)
MLB: Tristan Eche (Jr., 5-10, 200)
NICKEL: Darion Flowers (So., 6-0, 195)
CB: Trenier Orr (So., 5-11, 180)
WS: Desmond Fite (Sr., 5-10, 194)
FS: Michael Wade (Sr., 5-11, 187)
CB: Mikell Everette (Jr., 5-11, 185)

Key Backups: DT James DeLaRosa (So., 6-1, 278), DE Dwight Jackson (Sr., 6-1, 232), MLB Lance Duran (Jr., 5-11, 215) and S Eric Agbarogi (Jr., 6-1, 195)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Like any team whose offense operates full-speed-ahead from the no-huddle, Sam Houston State puts a world of pressure on its defense.

Consider what happened in the Bearkats’ opener at Eastern Washington (one of the top teams in the FCS): SHSU did manage to put up 35 points, but in doing so it also surrendered 56 points and 317 yards rushing to the Eagles. In the process Sam Houston’s pass-happy, go-fast offense also lost the time of possession battle, 35:48 to 24:12.

That’s the downside to playing the way they do offensively. Of course it also hasn’t helped that the Bearkats, in year one under head coach K.C. Keeler, have been extremely undisciplined, accruing 16 penalties for 159 yards in the opener followed up by 10 penalties for 80 yards in last week’s win versus Alabama State.

But the Eastern Washington game is an ominous sign for SHSU defense, which will face a similar-minded offensive opponent this weekend in LSU, one that also intends to flex its muscles in the ground game and doesn’t mind racking up time of possession to keep a dynamic offense on the sidelines.

Also going against the Bearkats in this one in a major way: size.

Collins and Sherrod employ a 4-2-5 scheme that features two interior defensive linemen averaging 274 pounds, a pair of linebackers that average 208 pounds and no player in the starting 11 taller than 6-foot-2 (weakside linebacker Myke Chatman).

One thing that does work in SHSU’s favor is legitimate depth across its defensive front. After Mouf Adebo, a freshman All-American from a season ago, the Bearkats’ can also bring in senior Dwight Jackson at end. Inside, sophomore James DeLaRosa has also proven to be a capable rotational player at defensive tackle. Together Jackson and DeLaRosa have combined for eight tackles, 2.5 for loss and two sacks off the bench in this young season.

The Bearkats’ will have to rely on that depth as LSU figures to pound away with tailbacks Leonard Fournette, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee.

Here are some additional notes/stats on the Sam Houston State defense …

- SHSU only brought back three starters from a season ago on that side of the ball, but the Bearkats do return a total of 19 players that played at some point in 2013 in a reserve capacity.

- Free safety Michael Wade is arguably the team’s best defensive player (along with Adebo). He led the Bearkats last season with 105 tackles and also notched two interceptions. Through two games in 2014 he’s third on the team with nine tackles and has already grabbed a pick.

- Like most defenses SHSU attempts to funnel ball-carriers to its linebackers. The Bearkats’ two leading tacklers two games in: Mike LB Tristan Eche (13.5) and Will LB Myke Chatman (12).

- The Sam Houston State defense gave up a total of 642 yards on 100 plays to Eastern Washington followed up by a concession of 402 yards (141 rushing, 261 passing) on 63 plays to Alabama State.



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