Hyde: Bearkats need to eliminate timely errors after second consecutive championship loss
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 23:01
After sprinting the last leg of conference play with a seven game winning streak, Sam Houston State’s football team’s inability to gain speed to the outside on defense, avoid penalties and limit second half interceptions continued to expose SHSU in the semi-final and championship game of the 2013 Division I FCS Playoffs.
For Coach Willie Fritz and company to push past the last hump of the playoff circuit, the offense’s second half push must be disciplined.
But then again, hindsight is always 20/20.
Throughout the 2012 season, quarterback Brian Bell matured into a reliable throwing quarterback with 2,715 total yards in the air with 61 percent completion. But when pressured, Bell’s composure loses stability as zone coverage and a four man rush stressed his comfort in the pocket and threw costly interceptions.
With two qualified backups-Chris Grett and Jared Johnson-Bell’s development as a quarterback starts with his fourth quarter consistency. Bell’s performance against Stephen F. Austin (243 yards/ 5 TD) reaffirmed his leadership and ability to take hold of offensive coordinator Doug Ruse’s system into the playoffs. Bell’s stronghold on the passing game struggled against Eastern Washington (throwing only 85 yards) then fell short against North Dakota State (throwing three interceptions).
For Bell to carry SHSU stronger into the second half, adapting to zone coverage and picking up the blitz will keep interceptions at a minimum, and momentum established in the first half on track.
The Kats will be playing catch-up this coming season with the graduation of Darnell and Darius Taylor, containing the outside sweep will trouble the Bearkats’ defense going into next season.
Darnell’s game ending injury in the second quarter against NDSU removed speed from SHSU’s secondary and opened a seam on the outside for Bison running back Sam Ojuri to rush for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor’s ability to congest the sidelines and prevent the rush attack will hinder “Black Swarm” next season. SHSU’s lockdown pass protection will be exposed by passing systems like SFA-who threw for 545 yards on 76 attempts-with the loss of Dax Swanson at corner.
Coach Fritz and his coaching staff will inherit a young team lead by veteran Southland Conference champions the past two seasons. With an extensive depth chart and the return of running back Timothy Flanders, Richard Sincere and Brian Bell, SHSU will contend for a third consecutive playoff appearance in winter of 2013. Speed on offense with Flanders and Keshawn Hill, as well as returning wide out Chance Nelson, will continue to give Bell targets downfield as the passing attack continues to blossom.
With the program Fritz has constructed at SHSU, this coming offseason can produce new stars and new recruits to fill in legacies left behind by the Taylor twins and Trey Diller. To stay dangerous, SHSU will need to continue their fast paced offensive scheme and keep speed in the backfield on defense.
The 2013 season will kick-off with an opener against Alabama State. The Bearkats will also face off against ranked Texas A&M with returning Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel.