The Sam Houston State Bearkat football team held its annual Orange-White spring game Friday night at Bowers stadium, where the offense (White) and defense (Orange) battled it out for bragging rights.
This was more than just a glorified practice for the football program, as this was the first game action for the Bearkats with their two new coordinators. Both Tim Cramsey and Clayton Carlin made their Bearkat coaching debuts, Cramsey made his debut as offensive coordinator and Carlin made his first appearance as SHSU’s new defensive coordinator.
“The offense really hasn’t skipped a beat,” head Coach K.C. Keeler said “Because it’s really been more tweaks than it has been an overhaul, while the defense has been a complete overhaul.”
A lot of the intrigue was seeing how last year’s record setting senior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe would work in Cramsey’s scheme, which focuses on a little more of the run game than previous offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s scheme did. The Bearkats started out the scrimmage by running a lot of draw plays with sophomore running back Remus Bulmer and junior running back Corey Avery, and they even ran some option pitch plays, showing some new dimensions in the offense. Briscoe looked sharp early on in the new offense, completing each of his first five passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
“Our goal this entire spring was to just get familiar with coach Cramsey,” Briscoe said. “Tonight we did a lot of what we are going to do, so it was good to get out there with a lot the ones that we had.”
Other than Briscoe, sophomore wide receiver Coree Compton and junior wide receiver Grant Finney both had standout performances. The two wide outs made some spectacular catches, but Finney topped his performance with a touchdown catch.
“Coree played a little bit last year, but he wasn’t really satisfied with his playing time,” Finney said. “So he really came out this spring to try and make a point, and he’s just been making plays all spring.”
Defensively, a lot of guys sat out due to a physical spring, but it was a good test for the unit as a whole. The unit is in the process of installing a brand new defensive system, which was expected with the switch to Carlin as defensive coordinator. The defense looked shaky at times, but when it came to red zone and goal line situations, they looked great and matched up well with the offense.
Several defensive backs players sat out for the Bearkats, which certainly helped contribute to their secondary struggles, and without last season’s Southland Conference defensive player of the year P.J. Hall lining up at defensive end for most of the game, the defense struggled against the high-powered offense.
“We had several guys sitting out tonight,” Keeler said. “Probably three of our top four defensive backs were sitting out… We had a bunch of guys sitting out, didn’t play P.J. (Hall) a whole lot, but all in all I feel like we got a lot of good work done.”
To depict a winner, a scoring system created by coach Keeler, which rewarded scoring plays by the offense and goal line stands by the defense, helped propel the Orange side (the defense) to a 58-57 victory.
The goal line situations really helped bring the defense back, as they stopped the White on seven out eight plays. Despite the White dominating for most of the evening, the Orange was able to pull out a narrow win.
“The scoring system worked out just right,” Keeler said. “We put a lot of emphasis on goal line and short yardage, and the defense got a chance to catch up a little bit there.”
Up next, the Bearkats will continue their spring practice regimen on Monday as they continue to prepare for their season opener against the Richmond Spiders on Aug. 31.