#4 Sam Houston State FCS Football 2017 Preview


Sam Houston State Bearkats


Overall Rank: #4

#1 Southland

Sam Houston State went undefeated during the regular season, but was surprisingly given the #5 seed in the playoffs. That meant after slipping past Chattanooga in the second round, the Bearkats had to hit the road in the quarterfinals. And that did not end well with SHSU getting crushed by eventual national champions James Madison 65-7.
2016 Record: 12-1, 9-0
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: K.C. Keeler (34-10 at Sam Houston State, 208-83-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Cramsey
Defensive Coordinator: Clayton Carlin
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Remus Bulmer, RB, 901 yards
Passing: Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, 4,602 yards
Receiving: Yedidiah Louis, WR, 1,152 yards
Tackles: Justin Johnson, LB, 97
Sacks: PJ Hall, DE, 13.0
Interceptions: Alfonzo McMillian, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Corey Avery, WR Davion Davis, WR Nathan Stewart, WR Jalen Harris, OL Tyler Tezeno, S Adrian Contreras, CB Carlos Teal, DL Spencer Williams
Key Losses: OL Bridge Blount, OL Curtis Riser, DB Darion Flowers, DB Tyrel Stokes, DL Mouf Adebo, DL Sione Latu, P Joseph Figenshaw
The Bearkats have a new offensive coordinator, but return all the starters from the skill positions. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe threw for an FCS record 57 touchdowns in 2016 and will attempt to surpass his own mark in 2017. And that might actually be obtainable with Yedidiah Louis, Davion Davis and Nathan Stewart returning. Louis led the receivers with 76 receptions for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns. Davis added 56 catches for 960 yards and ten touchdowns, while Stewart caught 52 passes for 1,004 yards and a dozen scores. Those are three very productive and experienced receivers. The passing game may get all the headlines, but unlike many other potent passing games, SHSU will run the ball too. And with Remus Bulmer and Corey Avery back, why wouldn’t the Bearkats want to run the ball? Bulmer rushed for 901 yards and eight scores last season, while Avery added 755 yards and ten touchdowns. The biggest losses are on the offensive line, but Coach K.C. Keeler has brought in some transfers to help fill the void.
Transfers will also make an impact on the defensive side of the ball, especially on the line where there are quite a few pieces to replace. But PJ Hall is back to lead the line after recording an impressive 13.0 sacks and 24.5 tackles-for-loss last year. The Bearkats averaged over three sacks per game and with Hall leading the way, they could again. Linebacker Justin Johnson led the team with 97 tackles and A.J. Davis added 63. The secondary returns safeties Adrian Contreras and Alfonzo McMillian. Those two are big time playmakers who will account for plenty of turnovers. Cornerback Carlos Teal will get some help from UNLV transfer Darius Mouton to help bolster a pass defense that was susceptible to big plays last season.
The Bottom Line:
The defense should be able to fill those holes and be at least as productive as they were last season. And the offense will be one of the best in the country. That makes this one of the most dangerous teams in the FCS and certainly a contender to win it all. The Bearkats will get an early season non-conference test this year against another playoff caliber team. They host Richmond on August 27th in what should be a very entertaining contest. On September 30th they will have what could be the toughest Southland game on the slate with a trip to Central Arkansas. A late October game at Southeastern Louisiana will not be easy either, but if Sam Houston State can get past Central Arkansas, they should cruise to another conference title and a high playoff seed.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 179.0 (37th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 368.3 (2, 1)
Total Offense: 547.3 (1, 1)
Scoring Offense: 49.5 (1, 1)
Rushing Defense: 171.5 (68, 5)
Pass Defense: 270.7 (100, 7)
Total Defense: 442.2 (103, 6)
Scoring Defense: 29.7 (77, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (42, 3)
Sacks: 3.08 (9, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (28, 2)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#1 Tyon Merchant
#5 Ty Brock
#59 Caleb Jolivette
#117 Tevyn Stevenson
#126 Zyon McCollum
#137 Tristin McCollum