#1 Sam Houston State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Sam Houston State Bearkats

2012 Overall Rank: #1
#1 Southland
Sam Houston State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Sam Houston State Team Page


The 2011 campaign will not be forgotten any time soon by Sam Houston State…unless 2012 proves to be better. And there is only one thing left to make this year better than the last. The Bearkats cruised through the regular season, winning their first ever outright Southland title and then beat Stony Brook, Montana State and Montana en route to the national championship game. Of course they lost to North Dakota State in the title game, but with a slew of starters returning, Sam Houston State and Coach Willie Fritz could make it back.

2011 Record: (14-1, 7-0)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Willie Fritz (20-6 at Sam Houston State, 156-58-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Doug Ruse
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Stoker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tim Flanders, RB, 1,644 yards
Passing: Brian Bell, QB, 2,069 yards
Receiving: Richard Sincere, WR, 485 yards
Tackles: Darnell Taylor, S, 128
Sacks: Jarrett Brown, DE, 5.0; Andrew Weaver, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Dax Swanson, S, 8

Other Key Returnees: G Matt Boyles, DT J.T. Cleveland, OT Kaleb Hopson, S Kenneth Jenkins, DT Gary Lorance, CB Robert Shaw, OT Riley Smith, CB Bookie Sneed, TE J.D. Standley, WR Torrance Williams

Key Losses: K Craig Alaniz, WR Keith Blanton, G Chris Crockett, LB Kash David, DE Eddie Decambre, LB Will Henry, WR Grant Merritt, C Travis Watson

By the numbers the pass defense was not particularly good in 2011, but that has more to do with Sam Houston State’s domination of their opponents. The only close game they played in prior to the playoffs was an overtime victory over FBS member New Mexico. Other than that the Bearkats generally got out to big leads and the opposition had no choice but to throw the ball. The secondary boasts a few of the best players on the team. Safety Darnell Taylor led the team with 128 tackles, fellow safety Dax Swanson picked off eight passes and corners Robert Shaw and Bookie Sneed combined to break up 23 passes. Even though SHSU got thrown on quite a bit, it usually was not very successful. The front line also returns all of their starters from a year ago. Ends Jarrett Brown, Preston Sanders and Andrew Weaver all started at least seven games last season and provide Coach Fritz with a healthy rotation of pass rushers. Gary Lorance and J.T. Cleveland are back to man the middle. Those two are not the biggest tackles around, but they are mobile and have been starting for the better part of two years. The loss of linebackers Will Henry and Kash David will be felt for a while, but there are experienced options to replace them, most notably Darius Taylor, Eric Fieilo and Jesse Beauchamp.

Besides the kicking game, which needs to replace Craig Alaniz, there is not too much to be worried about in Huntsville, Texas. However, the passing attack led by Brian Bell could be more prolific. Bell is a very efficient quarterback. As a sophomore he threw for 2,069 yards, 20 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Yet, when Bell really needed to pass in the championship game, he came up short. Two of those seven interceptions came against North Dakota State and Bell completed just 12 of 31 passes for 115 yards. It is easier to be efficient when the opposition thinks running back Tim Flanders is going to run. Bell usually had time to throw and was rarely sacked, but a couple new starters will need to be found on the line after long time starters Chris Crockett and Travis Watson graduated. Matt Boyles, Kaleb Hopson and Riley Smith should step back into their starting roles and at least Dan Jenkins and Chris Rogers have some starting experience, but the offensive line is one of the few places that lacks experienced depth at this level.

The Bottom Line:
The line will look good when Flanders is running the ball. The 5-9 back rushed for 1,644 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2011 and even led the team with 34 receptions. Flanders is everywhere in this offense and he is not a bad player to build around. Neither is Richard Sincere, a wideout who led the team with 485 receiving yards and also rushed for 979 yards and nine touchdowns. Sincere is a superb playmaker wherever he lines up. The offensive trio of Bell, Flanders and Sincere are all just juniors. Mistakes that were made in the past will go away and the entire team grew up together during last year’s great playoff run. Flanders alone can lead this group to another Southland title and a return trip to the playoffs, but having a more experienced Bell under center has the Bearkats eyeing the one trophy they did not do get in 2011.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 255.93 (6th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 151.60 (103, 7)
Total Offense: 407.53 (27, 2)
Scoring Offense: 36.93 (4, 1)
Rushing Defense: 72.93 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 207.00 (61, 4)
Total Defense: 279.93 (3, 1)
Scoring Defense: 14.93 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.87 (2, 1)
Sacks: 2.00 (56, 3)
Sacks Allowed: .73 (8, 2)