No off weeks in the Southland

The Sam Houston State Bearkat football team has traveled a bumpy road during its Southland Conference schedule.Facing the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the past two weeks have proven tough for the Kats, and this weekends’ opponent, the Nicholls State Colonels, do not make the schedule any easier.The Colonels are ranked 22nd in the nation, and according to Bearkat head coach Ron Randleman, the team is well deserving of its ranking.”Coach (Daryl) Day and their staff have done a good job down there,” he said. “They were real close last year; they were a lot better team than their record indicated. We were fortunate to beat them, McNeese was fortunate to beat them and they beat Division-I Arkansas State on the road on the last game of the year. They’ve got confidence.”Nicholls State runs the option offense, a style the Bearkats have not seen all year. In fact, the Kats have not seen the option attack since the team played the Colonels last season in Thibodaux, La.Quarterback Josh Son leads the running attack for Nicholls, with 131 rushes for 489 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also thrown for 431 yards on 23 completions.”Josh Son does a good job,” Randleman said. “The quarterback is always the key in an option attack, but their offensive line is a veteran group. They start three seniors and two juniors up front and they’ve been doing this a while. Every year they’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in what they’re doing. There’s no doubt they can run the football.”The Kats have had trouble stopping the run the past two weeks against McNeese and Northwestern. Nicholls looks to be just as opposing as the nations front-runners when it comes to running the ball.”I think the key to stopping this one is to hopefully minimize their big plays,” Randleman said. “The way their offense is built, they’ll rely on the 20 yard plus plays whereas McNeese didn’t rely on at all. When you play an option team you also hope to get some turnovers. That’s the two things I think we have to do Saturday. When you play an option attack, they rely on you not being able to defend their offense as well as they can run it.”One problem an option team possesses to a defense is the threat of the deep pass, which Son has been able to connect on in the past.”They don’t throw it very often, but when they do, as option teams do, they throw the long ball,” Randleman said. “They’ve got some good speed at receiver and good speed in the backfield. They’re a good team, like their number 22 ranking shows.”As for the Bearkats, the team’s offensive woes over the last three weeks have not helped the cause. Ten points in each of the last three games have not been enough to keep the Kats in the game against McNeese or Northwestern State.Randleman said one of the main differences between Nicholls and the previous two games is that the Kats were physically out matched against McNeese and Northwestern, whereas the team matches well with the Colonels.With a win Saturday, the Kats can still finish in third place in the conference behind McNeese and Northwestern State. SHSU would also have to beat the Southwest Texas State Bobcats in the season finale at home to finish in third. Randleman said finishing behind the two and three teams in the country is not bad.”Our football team represents Sam Houston State University and regardless, every time we go out it’s important,” Randleman said. “It’s important when you’re representing your university that you represent it well in anything you do. We have an opportunity to beat No. 22 in the nation, and an opportunity with two wins to finish no worse than a tie for third and possibly third by our self. It would be no disgrace to finish third in this league this year behind McNeese and Northwestern as strong as they are.”It’s always good for your future to finish with some success. There’s a lot of implications in this game because there are a lot of reasons we want to match their intensity.”

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