Most coaches will say that at this point of the season that their defense will be further along than their offense.
That statement held true Wednesday night in Sam Houston’s first scrimmage of the preseason at Bowers Stadium.
Aside from a few explosive plays late in the evening workout, the defense was in control, not allowing the running game to get into gear and keeping the passing game mostly ineffective.
“As far as scrimmages, that was our time to have fun and get after it. We feel we had a pretty good scrimmage, defensive-wise,” senior linebacker Kash David said. “There’s always room for improvement. There were some tweaks that we’ve got to get fixed. We’re going to keep adding different things to our system.”
Early on, the offense struggled holding onto the ball and lost a couple of fumbles along with committing a few pre-snap penalties.
“We did some good things, but we didn’t start off how we wanted to,” sophomore receiver Richard Sincere said. “We’re still trying to establish our run game, but we didn’t really get started. We didn’t have the right tempo that we wanted to start with. That’s what we’re going to start working on.”
As the scrimmage went along, the offensive side of the ball started to get into more of a rhythm and began to have success moving the chains. The Kats even made a few big plays offensively.
Getting things started was freshman Emory Miller, a transfer from the University from Wyoming, who was able to weave between defenders and pick up big chunks of yardage, including a pair of 20-plus yard quarterback keepers.
Then the Kats’ No. 1 squad went to work. Sophomore quarterback Brian Bell, who threw for 121 yards on 6-of-9 passing, connected with sophomore wide receiver Trey Diller for a 40-yard touchdown strike, then later for a 35-yard score to Grant Merritt.
Sincere came up with a big play as he got the defense to bite on a fake handoff out of the wildcat formation and took it 31 yards for a score.
“I did see some explosive plays offensively. We’ve got some guys who can make the big play,” Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said. “I thought that was a nice play by Richard. He started off slow, but every fourth or fifth time he touches the ball, he puts his toe into the ground and just explodes vertically.
“I saw some good things from Emory Miller when he got into the ballgame. He threw a nice ball. I thought Brian had some nice throws also and had a nice catch by Grant Merritt and Trey Diller also.
“There were some nice things to see.”
The offense nearly had another score on what appeared to be a 35-yard touchdown reception as Diller got behind the secondary and into the end zone, but his sliding catch was ruled incomplete.
“We gave up three big plays and we’ve got to cut that out,” David said.
Those few plays were as much success as the offense would have, fumbling the ball a total of five times, losing the ball three times.
“We definitely want to move the ball more consistently with running and passing,” Sincere said. “We’re not really at where we want to be, but we’re still working to get there.”
Wrapping up the first official week of camp Wednesday night, Fritz said he and his coaching staff will dive into the playbook now that they’ve seen a first glimpse of what they have to work with.
“It was kind of sloppy. We had two hard practices last night. We’re a little bit ragged right now, but it always is this way the first time you scrimmage,” the coach said.
“The next time we scrimmage (Sunday), we will have a 40- and 25-second clock, coaches will be in the booth. We’re going to start dress rehearsal for a real game the next three scrimmages that we have and have more situational things.”
Sam Houston will open its 2011 football schedule Thursday, Sept. 1 against the Western Illinois Leathernecks at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.