The UAB Blazers must wonder what could have been if they hadn’t terminated their football program for a brief period.
Jeremiah Briscoe seemed set to be the team’s quarterback in 2015 and beyond before the program was eliminated under dubious circumstances. He ended up transferring to the Sam Houston State Bearkats, and he became the first player in school history to win the Walter Payton Award in just his second year as the team’s starter. Briscoe is back for 2017 to head up what will again be a lethal passing attack.
2016 Sam Houston State Football Season In Review
It was all about the arm of Briscoe last year. He threw for the second-most passing yards of any quarterback at the FCS level and heaved 57 touchdowns as well—nine scoring passes more than the player with the second-most and 21 more than the signal caller who was third on the list.
Briscoe showed that he can spread the ball around to a plethora of playmakers, as he had two 1,000-yard receivers and a third pass-catcher who came within 40 yards of the 1,000-yard plateau in 2016. The offense thrived off of big games, and all three receivers averaged at least 15 yards per catch.
This was the highest-scoring offense in college football last season. The Bearkats refused to settle for paltry field goals, deciding to risk it more often than not. They ended up with only five three-pointers on the season, but the offense went for it on fourth-down 17 times. It paid off more often than not and underscored this team’s aggressive offensive mindset.
As fantastic as they were in the regular season, the Bearkats ended the year with a monumental thud. One of the best passing attacks that we had ever seen was thoroughly shut down by James Madison in the FCS quarterfinals. The team was putrid through the air, completing just 14 of 52 passes and averaging only three yards per attempt in the setback.
The defense may have been even worse. It allowed 65 points to James Madison through the first three quarters before the Dukes completely stopped even trying to run an offense. Defensive issues had plagued Sam Houston State all year, and we saw just how bad this unit really was when the offense couldn’t score.
2017 Sam Houston State Football Season Preview
Briscoe returns and will make this one of the most dangerous offensive attacks in the country once again. He will have all three of his leading receivers from last season back, but it will be difficult to top what the unit did last year.
The Bearkats have a new offensive coordinator in Tim Cramsey, and he has indicated that they are going to focus on the run more. The passing game has been blamed for some of the defensive woes because of how fast the offense scores. Keeping it on the ground should help burn up clock and not put such a burden on the ‘D.’
Offensive line might be an issue, though. Sam Houston State only has two seniors on the entire offensive line and such a young unit could be exposed if injuries take a toll.
Defensively, the Bearkats might struggle again. They are replacing six starters and will have a new coordinator after Brad Sherrod left. If this unit can improve, the team could be a legitimate FCS title contender.
2017 Sam Houston State Football Schedule
August 27: Sam Houston State vs. Richmond
September 9: Sam Houston State at Prairie View A&M
September 23: Sam Houston State vs. Nicholls
September 30: Sam Houston State at Central Arkansas
October 7: Sam Houston State vs. Stephen F. Austin
October 14: Sam Houston State vs. Northwestern State
October 21: Sam Houston State vs. Lamar
October 28: Sam Houston State at Southeastern Louisiana
November 4: Sam Houston State vs. Incarnate Word
November 11: Sam Houston State at Abilene Christian
November 18: Sam Houston State vs. Houston Baptist
FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch
The Bearkats’ opening game against Richmond might be the toughest test they face all season. The Spiders have a new head coach but have a ton of talent and play a different style of football than you see in the rest of the Southland Conference. Sam Houston State will be favored, but Richmond might be worth a play in your FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.
This is one of the weaker conferences in FCS, but Central Arkansas is typically a potential landmine for Sam Houston State. The Bearkats routed the Bears at home at the end of last season; and although the venue will switch this year, it’s not hard to expect more of the same. The Bears are losing a ton of talent from 2016, making the Bearkats a great pick in your FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.