#24 Sam Houston State FCS Football 2020 Preview

Sam Houston State Bearkats
Overall Rank: #24
#4 Southland
 Sam Houston State Logo
After reaching the playoffs seven straight times, Sam Houston State has now missed out on the postseason two years in a row. The good news is that Coach K.C. Keeler has never missed the playoffs three years in a row. And that dates back all the way to 1993 through his time at Delaware and Rowan. The Bearkats were not too far off last year though. They never lost to an FCS opponent by more than four points and only lost at New Mexico by eight.
2019 Record: 7-5, 6-3
2019 Postseason: None
Coach: K.C. Keeler (59-22 at Sam Houston State, 233-95-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan Carty
Defensive Coordinator: Clayton Carlin
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Donovan Williams, RB, 925 yards
Passing: Eric Schmid, QB, 1,733 yards
Receiving: Ife Adeyi, WR, 513 yards
Tackles: Trevor Williams, LB, 58
Sacks: Jevon Leon, DL, 8.5
Interceptions: Jaylen Thomas, DB, 3; Zyon McCollum, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Kyran Jackson, WR Chandler Harvin, WR Dee Bowens, OL Colby Thomas, OL Tyler Edwards, DB Tristin McCollum, DB Ke’Shon Murray, DL Trace Mascorro, LB Markel Perry, DL Joseph Wallace, P Matt McRobert
Key Losses: QB Ty Brock, WR Nathan Stewart, TE Woody Brandom, DB Will Lockett, LB Hunter Brown, LB Royce See
Eric Schmid missed four games last season due to an injury and was splitting time with Ty Brock on occasion too. Despite those setbacks, Schmid had a pretty good sophomore season, completing 58.8 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He will be the main signal caller this year and SHSU will need Schmid to stay healthy. Ife Adeyi, Chandler Harvin and Dee Bowens are a good trio of wide receivers and the passing game should be stronger than it was last year. The running game should be pretty good too with Donovan Williams leading the way. He rushed for 925 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. The addition of Ramon Jefferson, who rushed for 1,037 yards at Maine back in 2018, adds a little lightning to go along with Williams’ thunder.
No team in the FCS allowed fewer yards on the ground than Sam Houston State. The opposition averaged just 69.9 yards per game rushing in 2019. The top three tacklers are gone though and two of them are linebackers. Still, the front seven should be among the best in the nation again. Trevor Williams and Markel Perry are now experienced upperclassmen and ready to emerge as leaders in the middle of the defense. Jevon Leon grabs most of the headlines on the defensive front after tallying 8.5 sacks and 16.0 tackles-for-loss last season, but the return of Trace Mascorro and Joseph Wallace will make this a team that will get to the quarterback consistently and stuff some of the best running backs in the Southland. The secondary was the Bearkats weak point on defense last year, but the return of most key players besides leading tackler Will Lockett should help the unit. And there should be more depth too with a few transfers coming in and looking to make an impact.
The Bottom Line:
The rest of the Southland Conference does not fear Sam Houston State like they did a few years back. The schedule could be worse, but trips to Nicholls and Houston Baptist and a home date with Central Arkansas will certainly be very difficult games. During their playoff misses of 2018 and 2019, Sam Houston State was not far off from reaching the playoffs. It remains to be seen what the 2020 playoffs will actually look like, if anything, but if there is a season you can be sure the Bearkats will be right in the mix when it comes to the postseason.
Projected Postseason: None
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 146.9 (66th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 281.1 (21, 6)
Total Offense: 428.0 (24, 3)
Scoring Offense: 31.9 (32, 3)
Rushing Defense: 69.9 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 260.1 (106, 4)
Total Defense: 330.0 (18, 1)
Scoring Defense: 17.8 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.33 (34, 3)
Sacks: 3.58 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.67 (97, 8)
Madness 2020 Recruit Rankings:
#207 Briceon Hayes
#248 Jaylen Phillips