Sam Houston State University’s secondary returned to the fundamentals during practice this week, after handing over 714 total offensive yards against Texas A&M University offense in week two.
Assistant defensive coach Darnell Taylor said the defense has worked tackling and coverage drills in preparation for Texas Southern University on Saturday.
Head coach Willie Fritz said following the Aggie game he did not enforce heavy contact and tackling work during summer and fall camps; a problem evident against Johnny Manziel. The Heisman winner exposed the Bearkat’s weak tackling by eluding defenders when cornered in the backfield.
Taylor emphasized perfection was not expected from the Bearkats but strong cohesive play was inconsistent against the Aggies.
“Last week we didn’t have to play perfect but we had to play darn good,” he said. “[Fritz] made a point this week we just got to do what we do best and not focus on the other team.”
Youth and a lack of physicality has troubled the Bearkats early defensively, but still remains cloudy with the starters only logging four quarters in the first two weeks.
“It’s a young group with a lot of skill,” Taylor said. “Pretty much there are still spots up for grabs.”
Fritz added allowing young players clock gameplay will help mature the defense into a strong force.
“A lot of is repetition, repetition, repetitionùbeing there, seeing it, doing it,” he said.
Running back Timothy Flanders has showcased his field vision and open field speed early this season and can expect a repeat effort against the Tigers. Flanders rushed for a mere 49 yards against TSU last season, but was a strong proponent for SHSU’s total 346 offensive yards against the Tigers.
Offensive coordinator Doug Ruse’s running attack has fared strong early this season, accumulating 605 rushing yards in the first two weeks. Against the Aggies, Ruse inflicted potent options and sweeps against a stifled defense with Flanders leading the charge for 173 yards.
“We’re a run first offense,” Flanders said. “We’re going to try and win the running game and we’re going to try and stop the running game.”
The All-American running back has received support on the outside with the return of receiver Torrance Williams after a mid-season injury. Against the Aggies, Williams opened holes for Flanders to attack for down the sideline, allowing the running back to work into the red-zone. Flanders added despite the strength in the running game, finding receivers in open field will complete Ruse’s playbook.
“We’re trying to make a statement,” he said. “We want to win most of our games and we have a good set of receivers. We have to run it at them to get them out to make the passing game happen. ”
Fritz said Saturday’s game is a chance to redeem the squad before entering conference play in the first weeks of October. SHSU’s starters have only logged four quarters of playtime during weeks one and two, and will look to solidify their conference run.
“We’re not going to settle for almost getting things done, we need to get it done.”
Kickoff is at 2 p.m. at Bowers Stadium.