#15 Sam Houston State FCS Football 2019 Preview

Sam Houston State Bearkats
Overall Rank: #15
#2 Southland
 Sam Houston State Logo
Sam Houston State will want to quickly put the 2018 season behind them. The Bearkats struggled to a disappointing, by their standards, 6-5 campaign. In K.C. Keeler’s previous four seasons leading the program, SHSU reached the semifinals of the playoffs three times and the quarterfinals once. Not making the playoffs is not acceptable and this group has something to prove.
2018 Record: 6-5, 5-4
2018 Postseason: None
Coach: K.C. Keeler (52-17 at Sam Houston State, 226-90-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan Carty
Defensive Coordinator: Clayton Carlin
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kyran Jackson, RB, 809 yards
Passing: Ty Brock, QB, 2,417 yards
Receiving: Nathan Stewart, WR, 1,063 yards
Tackles: Hunter Brown, LB, 97
Sacks: Royce See, LB, 5.5
Interceptions: Zyon McCollum, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: QB Mike Dare, WR Dee Bowens, S Earnest Harris, DB Tristin McCollum, DE Erick Fowler, DB Jaylen Thomas
Key Losses: WR Davion Davis, WR Tyler Scott, DL Derick Roberson, DB Adrian Contreras
Ty Brock is back after an up and down 2018 season. The sophomore signal caller threw for 2,417 yards and 15 touchdowns with a dozen interceptions. He took his knocks, but should come out of that season a better player. It will help having Nathan Stewart for one more season. Stewart has eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark in each of his three seasons so far and may save his best for last. Dee Bowens is also a big play threat out wide. Kyran Jackson leads a talented stable of running backs after rushing for 809 yards and eight scores in 2018. The Bearkats also add Texas transfer Toneil Carter. If the offensive line can replace some key departures effectively, this should be a much more efficient offense in 2019.
Without Sam Houston State’s typically explosive offense, the defense had a lot more to do last season. They ranked fifth in the Southland in scoring defense, but will need to clamp down against the run. The Bearkats have had some great linemen recently and Erick Fowler could be the next in line. He tallied 5.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss opposite the departed Derick Roberson and now it will be up to Fowler to generate most of the pass rush. Some new faces, most notably UTEP transfer Trace Mascorro, will help bolster the line. Mascorro earned Freshman All-CUSA honors back in 2017. Hunter Brown and Royce See were the top two tacklers a season ago and form the heart of the linebacker corps. Zyon McCollum, Tristin McCollum, Jaylen Thomas and Daniel Adams all return to a secondary that ranked first in the Southland.
The Bottom Line:
The schedule includes a non-conference slate against New Mexico, Oklahoma Panhandle and North Dakota. That will be a loss, a win and one of the more interesting non-conference FCS games of the season. That trip to North Dakota on September 14th is a game both teams could look back on at season’s end. The Southland will be very interesting as well after Lamar and Incarnate Word made their first ever playoff appearances. The Bearkats host both of those teams and last year’s other playoff representative, Nicholls. A trip to Central Arkansas on October 26th should be the toughest conference road contest, but the schedule sets up nicely for Sam Houston State to get back to the playoffs.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 124.2 (92nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 295.6 (11, 3)
Total Offense: 419.8 (34, 5)
Scoring Offense: 30.0 (41, 6)
Rushing Defense: 208.5 (94, 11)
Pass Defense: 219.5 (70, 1)
Total Defense: 427.9 (86, 6)
Scoring Defense: 28.1 (57, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.45 (89, 9)
Sacks: 3.36 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 3.18 (107, 8)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#171 Rance McInnis
#195 Jevon Leon
#199 Ife Adeyi
#229 Derrick Rose