Football is returning to Bowers Stadium on April 7 with the annual Sam Houston State spring football game starting at 7 p.m.
The Orange versus White football game is the conclusion of spring practice for the Bearkats. It will also mark the first time newly hired offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey and recently promoted defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin are hitting the sidelines as SHSU coaches in an organized football game.
“The game is really about finishing off the spring, especially with two brand new coordinators,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “And seeing the progress we’ve made in terms of implementing the new offense and defense.”
It has been over a month since the Bearkats returned to the gridiron for spring practice. The team has been working on balancing its offensive attack while also simplifying the defensive scheme.
Keeler said some players are not playing in the spring game due to how physical practice has been. The Bearkats scrimmaged three times so players are banged up.
“Its been a really physical spring so people are going to see more guys sitting out of this spring game than I’ve ever had,” Keeler said. “We took advantage of every scrimmaging opportunity and every tackling opportunity because you only get so many in the spring.”
Spectators who attend the spring game will notice the unique scoring system set in place, which is designed to pit the Bearkat offense against the Kat defense. The game will be scored in order to give the players a sense of competition.
“There is a scoring system that rewards the defense for turnovers, stops and change of possessions,” Keeler said. “It is just a way to have a score going and so the kids can see who is winning the mythical game.”
Although the game itself begins at 7 p.m., the Bearkats have a full day worth of activities. SHSU’s 2017 signing class, which consisted of 22 student athletes, will attend campus to sign up for classes and get fitted for equipment. The team will then gather at 4 p.m. in the Old Main Market for a team bonding barbeque with family.
“It is a big transition day for us,” Keeler said. “Not only are we playing the spring game, but we’re also sort of welcoming the new players to the program. We have a big brother, little brother program that we kind of do.”
With two new coordinators leading both the offense and defense next season, the spring game is a huge event that shows the coaching staff where the team currently sits.
“In terms of the game, it’s all about the process of getting better and that’s what I want to see,” Keeler said. “I want to see the progression from the first day we started installing the new offense and the new defense until the last day.”
Three of SHSU’s top four players in the secondary will not play in the spring game. The Kats are also expected to sit a couple of wide receivers and starting offensive lineman due to injury. The Orange versus White game will allow for overshadowed players, who normally do not see in-game action, to show their true talent.
Sophomore wide receiver Coree Compton is a prime example. Keeler said that since freshman Nathan Stewart and junior Davion Davis have been out with injuries, Compton has been able to step up and impress the coaching staff.
“It is really a great opportunity for some of the young guys to step up and a guy who has really stepped up huge this spring because some guys have been banged up has been Coree Compton,” Keeler said. “With Davis missing the spring and Nathan Stewart being out with a hip-pointer, Coree has stepped up and played outstanding.”
The Orange versus White spring football game is open to the public and will take place on Friday at Bowers Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“It is following a big baseball game and it is supposed to be a beautiful night,” Keeler said. “I think we’ll get some people out here to watch us. A small group from the band will come out and we’ll have some fun.”