Monday, March 14, 2011

Sam Houston State Bearkats 2010 Review

2010 Record: 6-5 (4-3), Tied 3rd Southland
2010 Postseason: None
2010 Schedule/Results: @ Baylor, L 34-3, @ Western Illinois, L 56-14, Gardner-Webb, W 30-14, @ Lamar, W 38-10, @ Nicholls State, W 26-7, Southeastern Louisiana, W 57-7, Stephen F. Austin, L 31-28, L @ Northwestern State, L 23-20, McNeese State, L 33-28, @ Central Arkansas, W 20-13, Texas State, W 31-29


     After an 0-2 start, the Kats went on a seriously nice run, and it was starting to look like they could compete for the conference crown and a playoff birth. But then came a midseason run of bad luck, and they lost 3 straight to take them out of the race. Those three losses came by a total of 11 points. For another 4 points per game, the Kats could have been 9-2. They finished up strong with 2 close wins, but the damage had been done.
     The close losses could have been due to inexperience at QB, as SHSU went young with freshman Brian Bell. Bell was ok, but not great, and led the team with 1381 yards passing with 7 TDs to 4 picks. SHSU could not really open up the offense, and therefore had to find other suitable areas to focus the offense through.
     That meant that they had to power through with Tim Flanders, but even Flanders, who was very good at times, failed to reach the 1000 yard mark on the season despite rushing for 13 TDs on the season. Flanders finished with 907 yards rushing, but nobody else complimented him in the RB stable.
     The passing game weakness obviosuly had a negative reaction on the WR corps as well, with no receiver gaining more than 370 yards (Seth Patterson), and nobody reaching more than 35 grabs (again, Patterson). Only one other receiver had 20 grabs on the season.
     Defensively, the Kats were in bad shape as playmakers were not plentiful. With the exception of one game, when the Kats were winning, the scoring defense was awesome. When they were losing, they were giving up big points. In the 0-2 start, SHSU gave up 45 points per game to Baylor and Western Illinois. They gave up 30 or more in 2 of 3 of the season defining losses in the middle of the season. They gave up 29 or more points 5 times, and go figure, they lost 5 games.
      The Kats only boasted two players in the top 20 tacklers in the league, and the highest rated tackler was 13th in DB Darnell Taylor. Kenneth Jankins, another DB, was 15th. No member of the front seven ranked in the top 20. See the pattern here?
     Will Henry was the only Bearkat to rank in the top 10 in TFLs, and he had 14 total on the season. He didn't even register when it came to making the easy plays. JT Cleveland picked up 6 sacks, and it was good enough to make him the only Bearkat in the top 10 there as well.
     The secondary was a mess, as they allowed over 261 yards per game through the air. Not a winning number by any means. Bookie Sneed, Victor Carmichael, and Dexter Swanson did their best, but they were under assault on every down. Sneed was one of my finalists for FCS DB of the Year due to his big play skills, as he led the Southland in passes defended with a whopping 16. Carmichael was busy as well with 10, good enough for 3rd, and Swanson batted away 7. With all of the breakups, however, nobody managed to pick off more than 3 passes.
     Miquel Antonio attempted more FGs then any other Southland kicker, but his accuracy was not great. Antonio hit only 14 of his 23 FG attempts on the season, which stands to lack. Matt Foster was lacking at punter as well, as he only averaged just over 38 yards per punt on the season.

The Bearkats were so very close in 2010, but close does not count. Had the offense been just a little more productive in the passing game, the BEarkats could have stolen a playoff birth away from Stephen F. Austin, but those 11 points will haunt them for years. I will preach this until I die...playmakers win games. No playmakers, no winning. The BEarkats need people to make plays in the passing game, and in applying pressure up front. Without those key components, there will be much more heartbreak to come for Sam Houston State.

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