By Cody Stark, Huntsville Item 

Sam Houston football fans have been used to seeing the Bearkats air it out over the past few years.

Since the forward pass was introduced to the sport in 1906, football has slowly evolved from the days when a strong running game was king to the more exciting style of the spread offense where passes are peppered all over the field.

The Bearkats have followed the trend. Taking a look at the record books, the top five single-season passing records by a quarterback in SHSU history have come since 1999.

Sam Houston has a new offensive coordinator calling the shots now, but don't worry. Sam Houston is still going to spread the field and toss the ball around under Bob DeBesse.

In fact, there are a few more passing tricks up DeBesse's sleeves for the upcoming season.

"The offenses are a little similar," senior quarterback Bryan Randolph said. "Coach DeBesse runs a little bit more five-wide, you know, no-back sets. We run plays with four and five wide receivers, but we also have two-back sets."

When DeBesse was hired by new head coach Willie Fritz in February, DeBesse took a look at the hand he had been dealt during spring practice and realized he had to tweak his offense to fit the returning personnel and the incoming recruits.

With only a few short weeks of practice back in April and about a month of preseason camp, DeBesse has been working hard to adjust his offense, catering to the talent he has on the field when the Bearkats open the season Sept. 4 against Baylor in Waco.

In order to do that, he has tried his best to simplify things since Randolph and wide receivers Brandon Closner and Melvis Pride are the only skill position players returning with any experience at Sam Houston.

"We looked at what we did and what we tried to do in the spring and made an evaluation personnel-wise of what we are capable of doing," DeBesse said. "We eliminated some things we did in the spring, tried to condense some things, tried to package some things to make things simple as far as understanding was concerned.

"More than anything else, we looked at what we wanted to do and found out what we can do."

A lot of offensive systems are built like a cookie cutter. When players leave the program, others slide in and the team doesn't miss a beat.

Sam Houston doesn't have that luxury. This is a new system and almost half  6he team is comprised of Fritz and his staff's first recruiting class which didn't arrive on campus until August.

Randolph started against Stephen F. Austin last season when starter Blake Joseph was injured, but before that, most of his snaps came in 2008 in the second half of a blowout against Gardner-Webb when he was the backup to current New York Giants quarterback Rhett Bomar.

Closner and Pride combined to catch 10 passes for 147 yards as reserves in 2009. The Bearkats don't have a single running back on the roster who was at SHSU last year.

The good news is that DeBesse has been around the block, so his offensive schemes have evolved in the 25 years he has been coaching. It began with the veer, or triple option, at TCU in 1980s, then he was part of staffs at Purdue and Minnesota, which ran the spread before coming back full circle at Texas A&M under Dennis Franchione and the Aggies' option-style attack.

With Randolph in a battle with Auburn transfer Tyrik Rollison and junior Greg Sprowls for the starting quarterback job and a handful of young running backs and receivers needing to step up, the Bearkats have plenty of options with DeBesse's experience.

"It started with the option and ended with the option at Texas A&M before this gig with a lot of throwing the ball in between," DeBesse said about his offensive philosophy. "I believe in running the ball because you have to be s. You also have to take your shots. It is hard to drive the football, so you have to have those explosive pass plays.

"What you don't want to be is a jack of all trades and masters of none. You have to look at what you are capable of doing and focus on that. That is what we are trying to do here at Sam."

The first home game for Sam Houston will be Saturday, Sept. 25 when Gardner-Webb visits Bowers Stadium for Bearkat "Family Weekend."

Other home games will be Oct. 16 (Homecoming) vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Nov. 6 vs. McNeese State and Nov. 20 vs. Texas State. The final three home games will kickoff at 2 p.m.

Season tickets for Bearkat football at Bowers Stadium are available through the new exciting "2-2-2" offer, order your tickets now by going to the Bearkat tickets page on www.gobearkats.com or call (936) 294-1729.

The "2-2-2" offer also includes two corner tickets to the "Battle of the Piney Woods" game with Stephen F. Austin at Reliant Stadium in Houston on October 23.

Fans also may visit the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House located in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.