Incarnate Word

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The Bearkats are back on track.

After a rough start to the season, they have come together to reach a 2-2 record and are right back in the thick of things in the Southland Conference.

This week’s opponent is The University of Incarnate Word Cardinals who are no slouch and has a conference record identical to that of the Bearkats.

The Cardinals offense is powered by their QB Trent Brittain. At 6-foot-2 and 205 lbs., he should be a much easier task for the Bearkats to handle than the 6-foot-6 and 240 lbs. Zach Conque that the defense had to try and control against SFA.

He is, however, just as explosive. Through five games, he has thrown for 999 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Tack on another 220 yards on the ground and you can see how the Bearkat defense will have their hands full.

Broderick Reeves is coming off of a big 116 yards rushing game against Northwestern State as well, which adds a big component to their offense if he can stay in that form.

It also spells trouble for the Bearkats as SHSU is allowing an average of 218 rushing yards.

“We just have to limit the big plays,” Keeler said. “Those are consistently what are killing us on the ground. If we can play fundamentally sound football, and stay in our lanes, we should be able to control them.”

Tristan Eche has a simple way to put it.

“Know your job, do your job,” Eche said.

The return of safety Alfonzo McMillian should help with all of this.

“Getting Mac back will be huge,” Keeler said. “He can keep 10 yard runs just that instead of 40 yard runs. I can’t wait to have him back on the field.”

The offense had its first rough performance against SFA, only putting up 448 yards and two offensive touchdowns. They were also plagued by penalties, getting 13 flags for 105 yards.

“We were too hit-and-miss,” Keeler said. “We also had too many penalties, which is very uncharacteristic for us. Those hurt our offense as well. We would get something going, and have to go backwards 10 yards. It was a little frustrating and we will work on it for next week.”

The Bearkats special teams was feast and famine as well. Gerald Thomas and Yedidiah Louis both returned punts for touchdowns, but Luc Swimberghe missed two field goals.

“Special teams were huge today.” Keeler said. “We felt we left some points on the field the first half, and Gerald bailed us out big with that first return. Yedi put us back in the lead, and was a big spark for the team. Luc’s misses hurt as well. They were very uncharacteristic for him, because he’s been money in practice and in games all year. He shook it off and made two when it mattered though.”

The keys for the Bearkats to win the game are to air it out and get pressure on Brittain by keeping him in the pocket.

UIW is giving up over 200 yards passing every game.

With the loaded receiver core the Bearkats have, they should look to punish that secondary early and often.

“We just want to be included,” Louis said. “If we are part of the game plan, awesome, if not, we will do everything we can to help the team win.”

The other thing the Bearkats can do is pressure Brittain early and often. He has been sacked 13 times already this year.

With the talent on the Bearkats defensive line, getting pressure on him should be no problem.

The Bearkats play at 6:00 pm on Saturday at Bowers Stadium.

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