HUNTSVILLE – After just three practices, Sam Houston State will face a major test on Sunday.

The Bearkats travel to Texas A&M to face the Aggies in the team’s first fall preseason game at 7 p.m. Despite the lofty opponent, the squad remains focused on internal team development at this juncture.

“The biggest thing for us is seeing if they can put what we’ve explained to them and how well they’ve adapted to that,” head coach Tom Brown said. “The second priority is building on fitness level. Every player will have a different threshold. We want to combine those things and see who plays well in a very quick and competitive atmosphere we expect Texas A&M to create.”

Since reporting Wednesday, Sam Houston has turned its attention towards implementing the team’s philosophies, with a specific focus on the defensive side of the ball and transitioning into the attack. From there, the Kats will turn to their offense.

At the conclusion of Friday morning’s practice, Brown says he likes the work he has seen from a team focused on turning things around and writing their own chapter in the program’s history.

“I think number one is it looked like the players have come in with a great effort and attitude,” Brown said. “I think our first practice was one of the best since I’ve been here. The things we have asked them to do, they have been competitive. They really want to make a big improvement from last season.”

The Bearkats have worked to regain regular-season fitness levels while being mindful of the summer heat which is amplified by the turf field and surrounding concrete. In doing so, the team has held its practices in the morning or evenings with additional precautions in place.

“They’re reporting their readiness every morning to us and part of that is their hydration levels,” Brown said. “They are weighing in before and after practice. By the time they compete again, they have to regain that water weight back in, essentially keeping them rehydrating.”

Sam Houston opens its regular season on Aug. 18 in Edinburg when the Kats face off against Cal State-Bakersfield. The team will square off against UTRGV two days later before returning to Pritchett Field for the home opener on Aug. 25 at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve tried to do a little bit of getting organized for our game Sunday,” Brown said. “We will be tapering them down today and tomorrow. We will evaluate that and prepare for next week’s practice. Next week will be a bit more about attacking.”