The plan for Tuesday night was rather simple.
With the season opener right around the corner, the Bearkats did not want to do anything that would reverse their progress.
With a few players nursing injuries, the Kats took it a little light in their final scrimmage of the preseason.
“We’re kind of beat-up right now. It’s just hard for us to get into a real scrimmage situation, so we’re backing off on the tackling and those sorts of things,” Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said. “We’ve got some spots we’re a little thin at right now. It’s hard to do an 11-on-11 scrimmage situation.
“I don’t want to peak too early. We’ve got to do a nice job to get to that first game and there are a lot of teaching moments that we’ve got to get involved with. We’ve got to take care of those and we’ve also got to do a nice job with conditioning as well.”
As opposed to previous scrimmages, the first- and second-team offense looked sharp at the outset of Tuesday’s scrimmage during the 2-minute drill session.
Sophomore starting quarterback Brian Bell and the offense methodically moved down the field, hitting receivers Richard Sincere and Grant Merritt and running back Tim Flanders for positive gains. The only incompletion on the drive was on an overthrown ball in the end zone on third down, but the offense capped the drive with points as junior Miguel Antonio booted a 37-yard field goal.
The second team had similar success with senior quarterback Greg Sprowls taking snaps. Despite struggling in the first few plays, the offense got into gear. After a defensive penalty provided a new set of downs, Sprowls connected with sophomore Trey Diller on consecutive completions, including a nifty 39-yard, one-handed, juggling catch that nearly resulted in a score.
With time running out, backup kicker Craig Alaniz chipped in the short 20-yard field goal.
“I felt like that the defense didn’t come out and execute as well as our coaches expected us to and that’s a big disappointment to us,” sophomore defensive tackle Preston Sanders said. “All we can do is take what happened tonight and use it to motivate us the next day.”
As Tuesday’s workout progressed, the defense was able to come up with a few key stops and force some turnovers – two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
The Bearkats also worked on a variety of situational drills, such as special teams. Antonio later punched a 51-yard field goal. The Kats also spent a few minutes running out the clock and taking a safety.
While snaps were limited for projected starters, the scrimmage also gave the coaching staff a chance to work on establishing depth at certain positions.
“There’s a few young guys, though, that are getting some chances. I think we’ll get a bunch of these guys back and hopefully, this will build a little depth,” Fritz said. “Guys that maybe weren’t going to get a lot of reps, got a lot of reps.”
With the final scrimmage in the books and the season’s first game a little more than a week away, along with getting a little healthier, Fritz and his staff are trying to go over every possible scenario that may take place during a game, so that the Kats are prepared for those situations once the season gets under way.
“Today, I went over with my staff a sheet that has about 207 different situations that occur in a football game and there’s more than that,” the coach added. “We’ve been through about 160 of them. We want to finish them. Those are situations that you’ve got to go over.”
The Bearkats will now go through afternoon practice sessions the rest of the week before beginning preparations Monday for the 2011 campaign.
Sam Houston will host nationally-ranked Western Illinois in the 2011 regular-season opener on Thursday Sept.1 at 6 p.m. in Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.