The last time Sam Houston State took the field, SMU pretty much did whatever it wanted on the way to a 45-14 thumping of the Bearkats.

Heading into last Saturday’s game, there was a lot of focus on SHSU’s offense and its ability to move the ball with starting quarterback Wade Pate out for the season with a shoulder injury.

The Bearkats didn’t get on the board until the third quarter, but that didn’t matter because the game was over at halftime. The Mustangs came out in a no-huddle offense and carved up the SHSU secondary to the tune of 248 passing yards. SMU built a 42-0 lead with a little more than eight minutes to go in the third.

It was SHSU’s worst defensive performance since an 80-21 loss to Texas Tech last season. SMU is an NCAA Division I-A program, but had scored only nine total points in a pair of losses to start the season. The Red Raiders were a top 25 team with an offense known for putting up a lot of yards and points.

The Kats have to find a way to correct the problem with a very important game on the road at Missouri State on Saturday.

“It was just one of those days,” SHSU head coach Todd Whitten said Thursday. “Everything went right for them, and we didn’t have an answer. Defensively, it is really important that we bounce back this week. This game is going to show us what we are made of.”

The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards to jump out to a 7-0 lead. They went on to score on five of their six offensive possessions in the first half.

Last season, the SHSU defense gave up a lot of yards because it was on the field too much. That wasn’t the case against SMU; the Bearkats had the ball close to nine minutes longer than the Mustangs.

They gave up quite a few big plays, five that were for 25 yards or more.

SMU quarterback Justin Willis looked like a Heisman Trophy contender, completing 18-of-19 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns, mainly because of a lack of a pass rush.

“Sometimes (not getting pressure) happens when you play a Division I opponent,” Whitten said. “We gave up so many big plays, and the quarterback they had was unconscious. Maybe that was his coming-out day. But we have had a good week of practice and are ready to go this weekend.”

The Kats only recorded one sack in the game when Ed Jackson brought down Willis for a 9-yard loss on third and eight to force a punt. It came on the only drive SMU didn’t score on in the first half.

SHSU is going to have to get more pressure this week to take some heat off the secondary, and it isn’t going to be easy. All-Southland Conference defensive end David Branch is going to miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury that was been bothering him for a while.

“David is going to need surgery on his shoulder,” Whitten said. “It is an injury that has been lingering, and it has gotten to the point he has to get it fixed. We are going to try and get him a medical redshirt and see if he can come back next season for his final year.”



Notes: Tight end Jake Benoist, who suffered a heart attack at the beginning of fall practice, had to be hospitalized earlier this week. He is currently with his family in Dallas undergoing test to find out what is causing his heart problems.

“Jake had another episode with his heart a couple of nights ago and had to be taken to College Station. He didn’t have another heart attack, but something happened. He is stable and in Dallas undergoing tests and hopefully they can find out what is going on.”

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