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Courtesy: DJ Shafer
Kats look to No. 18 UCA after bye week
Courtesy: Gene Schallenberg/Huntsville Item
Release: 09/13/2011
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The Bearkats have certainly had their money's worth of patience lately.

It's been more than week since Sam Houston opened the 2011 season, but later this week, the Kats can get back to brass tacks when they host Central Arkansas in their Southland Conference opener.

After a strong, efficient offensive effort, along with a dominating defensive performance against Western Illinois, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Kats would want to keep on going and that a bye week might have a negative effect on their momentum.

With more than two weeks to get healthier and also game-plan for Central Arkansas, according to Bearkats head coach Willie Fritz, the off week couldn't have come at a better time.

"This isn't a bad off week for us," Fritz said Friday. "We've got a few guys banged up. We had a tough preseason camp where we didn't take very many breaks. I was a little concerned going into WIU that we might've been a little burned out, but the kids rose to the occasion in the ballgame.

"I like where the bye week came, though. We got in some good work last week. We got to work on some things that we didn't touch on a whole lot during camp."

With the extra time off, the Bearkats were able to get in a lot of time in the weight room and with the coaching staff as preparations got under way for the Bears.

"We had a good off weekend after WIU," Fritz said. "We got in a good weightlifting session on Monday. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and today, we got in some good running and lifting."

Sitting down to analyze the video from the Sept. 1 opener against Western Illinois, in which the Bearkats held the Leathernecks to 216 yards of total offense in a convincing 20-6 victory, Fritz saw plenty of good things on offense, defense and special teams as well as a few aspects of SHSU's performance that could use a little work.

"I thought we were very solid in the kicking game. Offensively, I thought we came within three or four plays of putting some big-time points up. The best thing we did by far on offense was not turn the ball over, which is spectacular," the coach said. "In the second half, the time of possession was 21 minutes (SHSU) to nine (WIU). That helped us in our last phase, defense. We didn't have to defend a whole lot of plays.

"We came up with some good third-down stances and got sacks and got them out of field goal range and got a big takeaway in the end zone by Bookie Sneed. Two hundred and 16 yards is outstanding and 92 of it was on one play.

"In all three phases, we did some good things, but there's also room for improvement without a doubt."

Looking ahead, the Bearkats expect a tough test from the 18th-ranked Bears, who compiled 444 yards in a 48-42 overtime loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us. They have a good squad. I think the guys will be ready after this weekend for the conference opener, then we'll start the grind," Fritz added.

"We worked a couple days on Central Arkansas last week. We've got one game on them. We've got last year's tape, obviously, as well. We refined some things. We're going to throw in some wrinkles in all three phases that we didn't show the first game. It's good for preparation. It's a big ball game for us."

Saturday's game is Parents Weekend at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium. Also, Walker County area military, police, fire department and other first responders will be honored in the special Hillcrest Heroes salute sponsored by Hillcrest Ford of Huntsville.

Tickets for all Sam Houston home football games at Bowers Stadium plus the 86th "Battle of the Piney Woods" presented by YP.com at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Oct. 8 are on sale now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets .

The Sam Houston athletic ticket office, located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.

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