With the Sam Houston football team now practicing in pads, spring drills for the Bearkats have amped up a bit.
Head coach K. C. Keeler and his staff are working on fundamentals and looking for answers at positions where there are specific needs.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sam Houston looks to address needs at the linebacker and secondary positions.
Co-defensive coordinator Mike Collins said the coaching staff is trying to help develop good habits.
“From stance, alignment to tackling, we’re really coaching the fundamentals and little things as hard as we can coach them,” Collins said. “I think sometimes during the season you lose sight of that. You get in bad habits because you’re not playing inside-out or outside-in, or you’re not using the proper technique tackling, or lined up in a sloppy stance. We’re trying to develop good habits this spring with these guys.”
Sam Houston returns 51 lettermen from last year’s team that earned the Bearkats’ their third consecutive NCAA FCS playoff berth. While the Kats lost 12 starters, many players who saw action in reserve roles are back. Nagging injuries from the 2013 season are holding some of the returnees out of action but that gives the coaching staff the opportunity to work with the younger athletes.
“In the spring, you really don’t have the numbers you have in the fall,” Collins added. “You’d like to, but in our case, we’ve got several players who are not able to participate during the drills. So there’s guys getting a lot more reps than maybe what they want. We’re pushing them.
“We figure if you play for six seconds as hard as you can play every time you line up and take a snap, and give maximum effort for 75 reps during practice, we’re getting ourselves ready for the games because that’s around what (the games) end up being.”
Kats first-year offensive coordinator Phil Longo said he’s been impressed with how most players have embraced the mental aspect of the game since last week.
The Bearkats are looking for a new starting quarterback. Running backs and tight ends will play various roles in four important facets of the new Sam Houston offense; both the running and passing games, pass protection and screens.
“The tight ends and the running backs have a lot to learn mentally,” Longo said. “And they usually come along the slowest. In our offense, the running backs have a much larger role. They don’t just run the ball. And the tight ends are the same. We don’t just line up the tight end next to the tackle and he blocks people. He lines up off the ball and he lines up outside and at wide receiver, in the backfield. So he needs to know pass protection, passing game, run game and screen game.
“It’s a much more challenging situation, so the learning curve is going to be even bigger.”
Practice sessions are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This Saturday afternoon at 2, the Bearkats look to hold their first game-condition scrimmage.
Sam Houston spring drills continue through the second week of April. The Orange-White spring football game will be Friday, April 11 at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.