Even without some of their main contributors in action, the Bearkats had a solid showing in Saturday morning’s intrasquad scrimmage.

Running backs Timothy Flanders, Keshawn Hill and Ridgeway Frank hit the holes hard. The quarterback tandem of starter Brian Bell and backup Don King III were effective in the pocket and on the run. The defense made several big plays as well as applying pressure and getting to the quarterback.

All in all, the Sam Houston State football team did well enough in Saturday’s scrimmage to give itself a point to work from during the final two weeks of spring training.

“We’re improving each week we play and that’s a good thing,” Kats defensive lineman Andrew Weaver said. “Today’s scrimmage, I believe we did good. We’ve still got a lot of improvement to do. I believe we’re going to get back to the top.”

With Bell directing the first-team offense, the Kats were able to move the ball effectively down the field with the running game, mid- to long-range completions, as well as the option attack.

Receivers Chance Nelson, Brandon Wilkerson and Dustin Moehlig reeled in a few passes to help the passing game.  

“We’ve come out here and try to move the ball with the quarterbacks and the wide receivers,” Moehlig said. “We wanted to block, catch passes and make some plays.

“We’ve been working real well with the quarterbacks in 7-on-7, and when we go team, we all just want to make big plays. The big thing we’re emphasizing is catching the ball, making someone miss and finishing.”

Once the offense was in the red zone, Bell hit a pair of touchdown passes to Wilkerson and Nelson.

King also got a chance to work with the first team-offense and played solidly, completing passes and executing the option offense.

“Don King, I was really happy with him today. We gave him some reps with the 1s there in the end. I was really excited with some of the stuff he did and he’s still learning,” Bearkats coach Willie Fritz said.

“Brian knows this offense inside and out. He could coach it and he’s done a good job of coaching Don and Jared (Johnson). I was very impressed with some of the things I saw Don do today.”

In red zone drills, Flanders also rushed for a score on an option.

Defensively, the Bearkats put pressure on the offensive backfield with linebacker Jesse Beauchamp finding his way to the quarterback on one occasion. The linebacking corps is an area that has gained depth over the past year with players such as Beauchamp and Jeremy Jackson gaining game experience.

The biggest area that needs to be addressed due to having several starters graduate is the secondary. The Bearkats lost three starting safeties, including All-American Darnell Taylor, and a starting cornerback.

“Everybody’s saying we’re rebuilding, but I say we’re reloading. People say our secondary’s young, but they know what they’re doing,” Weaver said.

The Bearkats have begun to identify who might fill some of those shoes.

Cornerback Shelby Davis, who picked off an interception in the first few plays of Saturday’s scrimmage, performed well when called upon in the 2012 season and has stepped up his game this spring. Chris Grett, who served as the backup to Bell last fall, was moved to defense to transition to safety. Fritz also looks for Michael Wade and Desmond Fite to step into those safety spots.

“We moved Chris from quarterback to safety and he’s an aggressive kid. We saw that when he was playing offense. We’ve got some holes to fill in the secondary and he’s getting some repetitions. I see him getting better every practice,” the coach said.

“Michael Wade has started two or three games for us at safety and we need him to be a front-line guy. Des Fite has played for us in the kicking game, but not much on defense. I’ve seen him doing some pretty good things.”

Tristan Eche has also been moved to linebacker from safety. Fritz also expects big things from redshirt defensive linemen Sione Latu and James DeLaRosa.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys who are getting a lot of repetitions and they’ve been able to show us stuff. I thought they did well. I saw some new guys step up and do some stuff,” Fritz said.

The Bearkats have a little less than two weeks and just four more practices before spring training wraps up with the annual Orange-White Spring Game, which will be held on April 18 at Pritchett Field at 7 p.m.

“Coaches are keeping us to the highest expectations. We’ve got to improve effort-wise each time,” Weaver added.