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April 6, 2014

SHSU FOOTBALL — Kats get crash course with officials enforcing rules

HUNTSVILLE — The Bearkats realize they to have play with measured precision when the referees come to practice. Penalty flags point out the sloppiness.

Those are aspects of the player development Sam Houston State coaches are observing with only two practices left before the Orange-White Spring Game this Friday.

Overall, first-year Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler said the ability to re-emphasize the rules helped the Kats on Saturday.

“I thought it was really good work today with the officials,” Keeler said. “With what we want to do offensively, there are some things the officials can help us work through. And just in general, when you have the officials out there, they’re calling offsides and recognizing that illegal procedure and those kinds of things.”

Practice began with the offense, defensive backs and the defensive front divided in sections for position drills. Highlights during the scrimmage included a 55-yard run down the left sideline by De’Chaar Greer, catches of 40 and 20 yards by Rickey Smith and a pair of acrobatic goal-line grabs from Dustin Moehlig and Stephen Williams.

“We had a good scrimmage but at the same time, when the referees come in, things kind of change a little bit,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to learn to adapt to the situations and the things we have to do to play better and more consistent football.”

While the Bearkats have seen progress, Keeler said he’s been coaching long enough to know this team is far from being a team that can compete for a championship.

Even with 13 starters returning from the 2013 playoff team, Sam Houston has new faces across the board, from players to the coaching staff.

So far, the offense is making the biggest adjustment. Sam Houston is expected to throw the ball more with offensive coordinator Phil Longo calling the plays. That requires an adjustment for the quarterbacks and run-blocking focused wide receivers, who will see more passes come their way in 2014.

“It’s like any new thing that comes to you, it’s going to be difficult,” Williams said of learning the new offense and practice regimen. “But I think we’ve embraced it and started to get on a roll, especially with what they’re expecting of us. We still have a long way to go but we’re putting in the work.

“We’re still expected to block and do just as well as before, if not better. But opportunities have opened for catching the ball. Any receiver is going to smile at that so we’re all happy with the new opportunity.”

Defensively, the Kats are decimated by injuries but returning players like Michael Wade and Tristan Eche provided energy and support on the sideline.

There were younger players proactively jumping passing routes and a defensive fumble recovery at the goal line following a mishandled run play.

“I thought it was really good work and I was happy with how we competed,” Keeler said. “We got done exactly what I wanted to get done in terms of numbers of plays. We got out healthy and so it was good.”

Friday’s Orange-White Spring Game will be held at Bowers Stadium and is set to get underway at 7 p.m.

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