As expected, the defense dominated Sam Houston State’s first spring football scrimmage on Saturday morning at Bowers Stadium.
With a full year of experience in defensive coordinator Scott Stoker’s system, the Bearkats swarmed to the ball, batted down passes, got pressure on the quarterbacks and came up with a couple of turnovers.
It was a long morning for the SHSU offense, but the Bearkats are shorthanded and have only had a handful of workouts to learn the new schemes offensive coordinator Bob Debesse is installing this spring.
The good news was the offense committed only one false start in 68 plays Saturday.
“I thought there were some good things as far as getting on and off the field and the organization on the sidelines,” SHSU head coach Willie Fritz said. “There was a time there for about 30 plays in a row where we didn’t have any pre-snap penalties. It appeared we didn’t have too many missed assignments and we looked like a ballclub.
“What we are really working on right now is not making many mental mistakes. Obviously the defense is ahead of the offense, but we have some of the same defensive coaches back, running the same system.”
The offense struggled to get in any kind of rhythm Saturday with a rotation of Bryan Randolph, Kyle Webster, Greg Sprowls and Tyler Copeland splitting snaps at quarterback.
The Bearkats managed only eight first downs and one trip to the end zone, which came about a quarter through the scrimmage. The scoring drive was by far the most productive and longest series of the day.
It covered 65 yards in seven plays and was capped when Randolph hit wide receiver Richard Sincere over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Sherard Ray also had a solid run, picking up 13 yards after getting popped at the line of scrimmage before breaking loose.
Randolph was 3-of-10 passing for 44 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Webster was 3 for 8 for two yards and also carried the ball a few times on the option. Sprowls was 2 of 4 for 36 yards and Copeland completed 2 of 6 for four yards.
“I think today wasn’t that bad at all,” Webster said. “We don’t have a lot of the offense installed. We are just trying to focus on the main points. We might not have made a lot of big plays, but I thought we executed well. It’s about taking small steps as we learn.
“You’ll be surprised at how much better we will look next week when have more time to get things down.”
Defensively, the Bearkats looked good Saturday. They did commit three penalties, including a pass interference that resulted in a first down. But the defense also made big plays.
Defensive back Kenneth Jenkins picked off Randolph and safety Victor Carmichael almost reeled in an interception. Defensive lineman Preston Sanders recovered a fumbled snap.
Defensive linemen Edward Decambre and J.T. Cleveland and defensive backs Mike Littleton and Robert Shaw each recorded sacks.
The Bearkats also did a good job of shutting down the running game. Aside from Ray’s 13-yard carry and a 15-yard gain by running back Vincent Dotson, who was moved from receiver, the offense only gained roughly 36 yards on 27 carries.
The biggest playmaker was Sincere, who had three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“Last year, we started off bad because we had a lot of new people like me and the other freshmen and new coaches and new plays,” Jenkins said. “Since we already knew the plays coming into this spring, it is easier. We are making plays. If we would have been at this point last season, we would have won more games.”