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Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Kats enjoy open weekend
Courtesy: Gene Schallenberg/Huntsville Item
Release: 11/26/2011
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Though the top-seeded Bearkat football team doesn't have to worry about playing Saturday, they will be glued to ESPN3 on their computers to find out who will be their opponent in the second round of the NCAA Division I playoffs next Saturday Dec. 3.

Sam Houston will play the winner of today's first round contest matching Albany (8-3) and Stony Brook (8-3). Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

As a reward for being the only Football Championship Subdivision team to go unscathed through the regular season, the top-ranked Bearkats, who drew the No. 1 seed through the playoffs, got a little extra time to prepare for the playoffs.

After 10 long, consecutive weeks of grinding it out without a bye week for relief, whether at home or on the road the Bearkats got a well-deserved week off during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Getting to take it easy this past week with a few light workouts, not having to prepare for a game, top-ranked Sam Houston got the chance to heal a bit from bumps and bruises endured through the regular season.

"I think it'll be real helpful. These two days, we've got to take advantage of them," Bearkats running back Tim Flanders said following Tuesday's short workout. "As you look at Stony Brook and Albany (the winner of today's first-round matchup will play Sam Houston in the second round of the FCS playoffs next Saturday), they're getting ready to play. They're focusing on each other this week and we get to go over our techniques one last time before we focus on another team."

With another week to get ready for their playoff matchup against either Albany or Stony Brook (, the Bearkats took advantage, as much as they could, of their bye week in the first round of the postseason.

"We're working on some things that we don't normally work on. W, we worked on hands team. We hadn't really worked on that for an extended period of time since camp," Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said. "We got a good 10-minute period on that. Then we did some more individual technique drills that we don't get to work on.

"Offensive line, quarterbacks and defensive line - they always get a lot of individual work. The other position groups have a difficult time getting very much individual work in because they're all involved in special teams and things like that. It gave us an opportunity to work on individual work a little bit and we'll continue to work on it as well."

"I think we're trying to do a little more individual work for today and tomorrow," Flanders said. "We didn't get to do as much today, but we will tomorrow and basically going over the small techniques that can make it easier for us."

Sam Houston's defensive unit, which boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the FCS, has been on a roll lately, keeping every non-FBS opponent to less than 20 points this fall. Though the Bearkats have been playing as good on defense if not better as any other playoff team, they admit that the bye week couldn't have come at a better time.

"We have a couple of people that's hurt, so really, it kind of feels good to have that bye," junior safety Robert Shaw said. "We're going to enjoy this and work on getting better as much as we can while the other team is focusing on another team."

Sam Houston will return to practice Sunday after their afternoon of watching first round games.

"I'll be watching it to see how both defenses play. They're both pretty good," Flanders added. "I think once you get into the playoffs, everybody's equal. Anything can happen. You've just got to be ready for it."

Tickets for the NCAA Division I Football Playoff games at Bowers Stadium may be purchased now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets . The Bearkat athletic ticket office in the Ron Mafrige Fieldhouse at Bowers Stadium is open this week through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The ticket office will be open Monday through Friday Nov. 28 through Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ticket prices are $25 for reserved chairback seats, $20 for bleacher reserved and $15 for general admission seats. The SHSU athletic ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.

Sam Houston State students may purchase NCAA Division I playoff tickets for the discounted price of $5 thanks to the contributions of local Huntsville and Conroe area business supporters. There are no free admissions to the playoff games due to NCAA rules. The $5 student tickets are on sale at the ticket office Monday through Friday and at the mall in front of the Lowman Student Center Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

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