In week 1, Texas Tech hosts Sam Houston State. We look at some of their key players and what the Bearkats like to do offensively and defensively to opponents.
Team: Sam Houston State Bearkats
Location: Huntsville, TX
Last Year’s Record: 11-5
Coach: K.C. Keeler
Returning Offensive Starters: 9 (OG Bridge Blount; OT Brandon DeWitt; OT Donald Jackson III; C Zachary Stevens; WR LaDarius Brown; WR Derreck Edwards; WR Yedidiah Louis; WR Gerald Thomas)
Returning Defensive Starters: 10 (DE Mouf Adebo; DE P.J. Hall; DT Jacobi Hunter; DL Dione Latu; LB Myke Chatman; LB Tristan Eche; CB Mikell Everett; CB Darion Flowers; CB Trenier Orr)
- DE P.J. Hall (6-1/280): You might say that Hall is a tad bit disruptive. Hall was spectacular as a redshirt freshman last year. Hall was a defensive end and running back at Seguin and ended up at SHSU, where he had 29 tackles for loss and 9 sacks on the year, and had 94 tackles on the year . . . as a defensive end. Just incredibly productive and gets behind the line of scrimmage very quickly.
- QB Jared Johnson (6-1/215): Johnson is a sturdy quarterback, good size just learning. Johnson started 15 games last year and averaged about 6.7 yards per attempt, while completing 57% of his passes. Add to those passing stats and Johnson ran for 999 yards for about 62 a game. He’s mobile and quick and isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run. With his size, he’s essentially a running back
- RB Jalen Overstreet (6-2/210): I think Overstreet will get the bulk of the carries now that Keshawn Hill is graduated. Overstreet had 106 attempts last year and Donavan Williams actually had a few more, but Overstreet was more explosive, averaging 6.88 yards a carry to Williams 5.35. Either way, Overstreet, a former Texas Longhorn, will receive significant carries as the Bearkats like to run the ball.
- Screen With Athletes: Johnson is really mobile and it seems that what he does best is work the screen game. He has a hard time looking down the field all that much and connecting, but he does have nice touch. Considering that SHSU is a team that runs as much as they pass, that’s not a big deal, but the safeties will need to play close to the line of scrimmage. Also of note, yes, that is former Red Raider Derreck Edwards in the starting lineup. He’s not used as well as he could be given the quarterbacks issues throwing the ball deep, but he starts and he’s a senior this year.
- High Leverage: Sam Houston State seems like they are very susceptible on the outside and in pass coverage over the middle. The Bearkats love to push the edge with the hope that you’ll make a mistake and they’re a high leverage team that doesn’t mind sending a ton of players to sack the quarterback. They are pushing the envelope on every play. That means that the quarterback is going to have to hit his targets down the field and the offensive line is going to need to protect, protect and protect.
- Johnson is Only Half: As mentioned above, SHSU is a dual threat team, they average 205 yards passing and 241 on the ground each game. Johnson does have some work to do, but his coach thinks that he’s improving:
“Jared is doing all the footwork stuff and all the mental things,” Keeler said. “Mechanically he’s come light years from where he was. Jared has such a great grasp of our offense. Jeremiah has a good strong arm. He’s putting his footwork together with his reads and working on making it all seem seamless.”
- Defense Has Issues: Can I just preface this entire series by admitting that Texas Tech had a historically awful defense, so when I write that a defense has issues, I totally understand that Texas Tech’s defense had a lot more. In any event, SHSU allowed 421 yards a game last year and 184 of those yards were on the ground. There are plenty of yards to be had and maybe that’s similar to what Texas Tech does in that the Bearkats are a fast-paced team that is going to have a defense that struggles.
- An interesting Test: Last year, SHU had 5 losses on the year, losing the game embedded above, to Eastern Washington, 56-35, LSU 56-0, Colorado St.-Pueblo 47-21, Northwestern State 31-27 and the last game of the year in the FCS playoffs, North Dakota State 35-3. Make no mistake, this was a pretty good team last year, but they still have a ton of room to get better on the FCS level and with the Bearkats returning so many starters, it’s easy to see why they’ll probably be picked to be one of hte best teams in the FCS.