The playoff stage is set for the No. 5 Sam Houston State Bearkats. The team will now meet the Chattanooga Mocs in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Dec. 3 at Bowers Stadium.
After their 59-23 win over Central Arkansas to secure the Southland Conference championship, the Bearkats will now direct their attention to the unseeded Mocs.
SHSU looked solid in the conference championship game against the UCA. The Bearkats attacked early and scored 38 points in the first half against the Bears. To win against the Mocs, the Kats will need to attack early like they have in past games.
“UCA was a really good opponent,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “Like every game we’ve played, we attacked them right away and got on the scoreboard. The defense played well and we just beat them on all three phases.”
UTC is 9-3 overall this season and averages 34 points per game. The Moc’s run game has a lot to do with that. The Mocs average 230 yards per game on the ground and have tallied 27 rushing touchdowns this season.
Another key factor to the Mocs success this season is points scored off turnovers. This season, UTC has scored 87 points off turnovers versus SHSU’s 65 points. A huge key to this playoff game is to not only keep the ball, but to win the turnover margin in general.
“we can’t turn the ball over,” Keeler said. “We have done a really good job of that. We must create turnovers and get pressure on the quarterback. On the defensive side, we have to stop their run game. Offensively is execution, if we execute then we will score.”
Keeler believes that the Mocs play a very similar game to UCA and is glad to play against the tough team at home.
“I think they are a really good opponent,” Keeler said. “I’m glad we get to play them at home. I think they are well coached and are a bit like UCA in terms of offense. They can run the ball at you, but the quarterback can hurt you.”
Tennessee is not to be taken lightly when it comes to their stingy defense. One player to watch out for is senior defensive lineman Keionta Davis. Davis has 9 tackles for loss for 60 yards and 8.5 sacks this season. The Bearkats must protect junior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe if they want to walk away with a win.
“Their defensive line is very outstanding,” Keeler said. “It’s very similar to the one we played against UCA. I think it’s one of the best defensive lines we have seen. The linebackers can run and the secondary is very athletic so this is a pretty good match up.”
Keeler also feels that a match up to watch is the Mocs’ offensive line against the Bearkats’ defensive line.
“The interesting matchup will be their offensive line versus our defensive line,” Keeler said. “If we can disrupt their run game and get a pass rush on the quarterback, if we do those things we will be fine.”
Kickoff for the second round of the FCS playoffs is set for 2 p.m. at Bowers Stadium.