In August, there was much anticipation towards the Sam Houston State football team. A positive vibe was coming from the team, one that I hadn’t experienced in the three years I have been at Sam Houston State.
The team had a star quarterback who had been given a second chance, an improved defensive line ready to improve upon a poor showing the previous season and a coaching staff ready to improve on a 6-5 season from a year ago and compete for a conference championship.
After two wins to start the season, people began to jump onto the Bearkat bandwagon, leading many to prepare for a late run into November and December. But faster than you can say “Mets collapse,” the team has reeled off four consecutive losses, which has led some to fling themselves off the bandwagon, and what began as a fairly tale, has a strong chance of turning into a nightmare.
With the Bearkats playing the Northwestern State Demons this weekend at Bowers Stadium, this game could turn out to be the last meaningful one played this year.
Another loss effectively puts them out of the running for a postseason berth, and at a time when McNeese is running over opponents for another Southland Conference football championship, the Bearkats can’t afford to lose a single game the remainder of the season.
The possibility of a conference championship seems bleak, but not entirely impossible. But the team should be more concerned with getting back to .500, and winning this Saturday rather than concern themselves with the postseason, and the results of other conference opponents.
Very few, including yours truly, had anticipated the Bearkats going 11-0 this year, but an eight or nine win season didn’t seem unlikely. Now the hope for the season would be to duplicate their record of 6-5 from a year ago, which is a far cry from the perceived step forward the program looked like it was heading in the preseason.
What’s most puzzling about this season is the Bearkats’ production. Their talent is among the best in the Southland Conference, but as a team they have failed to continually put out a consistent effort on both sides of the ball. No one is exempt from the blame; there is no singling out of a specific player or specific group. Everyone is responsible in some way for the Bearkats results so far, which includes both the coaching staff and the players.
The team isn’t playing up to its capability, but there have been glimpses shown to the fans and students alike of what the team is capable of.
We saw a glimpse earlier in the season in the game against North Dakota State. With NDSU ranked number five at the time in the FCS polls, the Bearkats nearly defeated the Bisons, taking a late lead only to have the victory be taken away from them in the closing minutes.
That game showed what the team could do offensively. Quarterback Rhett Bomar did his best Vince Young impression, throwing for over 350 yards and running for an additional 100 yards, nearly pulling off the upset, scoring 38 points against a top-tier program. In the Arkansas-Monticello game, we were given a glimpse into what the Bearkats could do on the defensive side of the ball with four sacks, and holding the Boll Weevils to 10 points, the lowest amount by a Bearkat opponent this season.
Consistency will be the key through the remaining five games. To see consistency in a pass-rush and running the ball, will be just two of the factors that will determine how the rest of the season turns out.
These remaining games will tell us if this season will be remembered as a year of moderate success or a disappointment.