HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KBTX) -- BEARKAT BYTES
- Sam Houston is one of just two teams in the FCS, along with North Dakota State and New Hampshire, to reach the FCS playoffs each of the last six seasons. In that time the Kats have posted an impressive 14-6 mark, trailing only the Bison in playoff wins during that span. Sam Houston has reached at least the quarterfinals in four of those six seasons, including back-to-back trips to the FCS championship game in both 2011 and 2012.
- The Bearkats reached the double-digit plateau for the third straight season adn fifth of the last six seasons in 2016. In its 101-year history, Sam Houston has won at least 10 games eight times (1956, 2001, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
- The Kats are 17-10 all-time in the FCS playoffs and own the country’s third-best winning percentage (.629) in the playoffs. Last season Sam Houston made its sixth straight appearance in the FCS playoffs and 10th overall.
- With its win over Richmond on Friday the Bearkats secured the first season-opening victory over a ranked opponent in school history. It made Sam Houston 3-1 against current CAA schools and was the 16th victory all-time against a team ranked in the national top-10.
- Points have not been a problem under head coach K.C. Keeler for the Bearkats. In 45 games since he took over in 2014, the Kats have scored 30 or more points on 36 occasions, going 33-3 in those games. In all, Sam Houston has scored no less than 34 points in each of its last 26 victories.
WITH A BEARKAT WIN ...
- K.C. Keeler would win his 210th career game. He is currently in a tie with Wofford’s Mike Ayers for 17th in all-time wins among FCS head coaches. Next on the all-time list is former SHSU head coach
Ron Randleman, who sits 16th with 218 career wins.
- Sam Houston would win its 200th game since joining the Division I ranks and the Southland Conference for the 1986 season.
- Sam Houston would win its 70th game since the beginning of the 2011 season. They would join North Dakota State as the only two teams in the FCS with 70 victories since the beginning of the
- Sam Houston would win its eighth consecutive game against a SWAC opponent. The Kats are currently 16-7 all-time against SWAC opponents and are making just their fourth trip to a SWAC
stadium. Their last loss to a SWAC team came against Texas Southern in 1996, while the only road loss came in 1993 to Steve McNair’s Alcorn State squad.
KATS AMONG WINNINGEST TEAMS SINCE 2011
Since the 2011 season which saw Sam Houston State make a run to the the first of consecutive FCS Championship games, the Bearkats have managed to sustain their success. The Kats, along with
North Dakota State are one of only two FCS teams with at least 60 wins since 2011. They have also been one of the most successful in all of Division I football. Here’s a listing of where the Bearkats
rank in wins since the 2011 season:
BEST RECORD SINCE 2011 IN FCS
North Dakota State
Sam Houston State
MOST WINS SINCE 2011 IN D-1
North Dakota State 84
Sam Houston State 69
Florida State 68
Ohio State 68
The Bison own the best postseason record in the country in that stretch, despite having their undefeated (22-1) streak in FCS post-season play snapped in the 2016 FCS semifinals against James Madison. Meanwhile, the Kats stand at 14-6 with two trips to the finals and reaching the semifinals two other times in that span. With a 17-10 overall record in the FCS playoffs, Sam Houston ranks third
all-time in playoff winning pct. (.653) and seventh in total wins among current NCAA FCS programs.
KATS SEEKING BACK-TO-BACK SOUTHLAND CROWNS
Last season Sam Houston ran the table on its way to winning the outright Southland Conference title with a perfect 9-0 mark. The Kats will be looking to win back-to-back league crowns in 2017 for
the first time since 2011 and 2012, but have never won consecutive outright titles. The last team to win two straight outright SLC crowns was McNeese in 2006 and 2007.
STAYING AT THE TOP
The 2016 season was the first time in school history the Bearkats not only started the year ranked in the top 5 of the national polls, but also stayed there throughout the year. Sam houston opened up the season as the No. 2 team in the STATS FCS poll and eventually rose to No. 1 midway through the year before finishing ranked No. 5 in the final poll. Since K.C. Keeler took over the program, the Bearkats have been inside the top 25 polls each time a poll has been released, while the last poll without the Kats in the top 10 was on Nov. 9, 2015.
BRISCOE SETS FCS TOUCHDOWN MARK
When Jeremiah Briscoe threw for five touchdowns against Chattanooga in the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2016, it moved him past Mississippi Valley State’s Willie Totten (1984) and Grambling State’s Bruce Eugene (2005) for the all-time FCS record with 57. His mark was just one touchdown shy of tying Colt Brennan’s Division I record of 58 set in 2008, and four short of tying Linfield’s Brett Elliott who holds the NCAA mark (all divisions) with 61 touchdowns in 2004.
KATS CLAIM PAIR OF MAJOR AWARDS IN 2016
The Bearkats racked up on postseason awards in 2016 with no awards bigger than Jeremiah Briscoe claiming the Walter Payton Award as the nation’s top offensive player and head coach K.C. Keeler
taking the Eddie Robinson Award as the nation’s top coach. It was the first time either award has gone to a Bearkat or a member of the Southland Conference. it is also just the second time in history
one program has claimed both awards with the pair joining Villanova’s Brian Finneran and Andy Taley who claimed the awards in 1997. Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (2008 & 2009) is the only player to repeat as the winner of the Walter Payton Award, while North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl is the only coach to win the Eddie
Robinson Award in consecutive seasons (2012 & 2013).
PERFECTION IN THE REGULAR SEASON FOR THE KATS IN 2016
It wa sa historic run for the Bearkats in the 2016 regular season as they entered the FCS Playoffs at
11-0, becoming the 43rd team in all of FCS since 1978 to navigate an entire regular season unscathed, and just the 28th to do so with at least 11 games played. It was the second time since 2011
that hte Kats finished a regular season undefeated (2011). Sam Houston and fellow SLC member
McNeese are the only two schools in the nation to have multiple (2) undefeated regular seasons in
FCS since 2007.
BRISCOE, PRICE TAKE SLC WEEKLY HONORS AFTER OPENER
The Kats claimed plenty of honors last season, but will have to find more room on the trophy case
if Week 1 is any indication. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe and safety Josh Price were named the
league’s offensive and defensive players of the week on Monday. Briscoe earned his after throwing
for 411 yards and accounting for five scores, while Price made his Bearkat debut with a pair of red
HALL SET TO CLAIM SACKS RECORD
The Bearkat offense stole much of the headlines in 2016, but P.J. Hall got his fair share on the defensive side as well. Hall finished second in the voting for hte Buck Buchanan Award for the national
defensive player of the year, adding 13 sacks to his career total while finishing with 24.5 tackles for
loss. He enters his senior season with 36 career sacks, a mark tied with Andre Finley for the most in
That as the mantra for the Bearkat offense in 2016, and it fit, considering how quickly the Kats would
strike once getting the ball. Sam Houston scored 89 offensive touchdowns a year ago, with 54 of
those drives taking up less than 2 minutes on the game clock.
That carried over into its 2017 opener against Richmond with 4 of their 5 touchdown drives taking
up less than 2 minutes, while the other touchdown drive took just 2:14.
THRICE AS NICE
With an offense as prolific as the Kats’ was in 2016, it’s no surprise that hte ball was spread around.
Sam Houston boasted a pair of receivers - Yedidiah Louis (1,152) and Nathan Stewart (1,004) - who
surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in 2016. Davion Davis finished just 40 yards of the mark, keeping
the Kats just short of joining the 2013 and 2014 Fordham squads as the only teams in FCS history to
sport three 1,000-yard receivers on the same roster in the same year. Eastern Washington managed
to pull off the feat in 2016, so should the Kats do it in 2017, they would now be the fourth FCS team
in history to do so.
LEAD FROM THE FRONT
The 2016 season did not end the way the Bearkats throught it would in the quarterfinals of the FCS
playoffs, but going into the game against eventual national champion James Madison, the Kats had
been absolutely dominant. Sam Houston did not trail in a game until its 10th game of the season at
Northwestern State less than 5 minutes into the first quarter. Prior to its loss at JMU, Sam Houston
had only surrendered a lead at any point on three occasions and its 21-21 tie early in the third quar
ter of its second-round win over Chattanooga was the first time Sam Houston had not held the lead
in the second half at any point in the year.
In fact, prior to JMU, Sam had only been tied for 65 minutes and 42 seconds of the 720 total minutes
played, including 56 minutes and 36 seconds of that span being a 0-0 tie. That is another trend
that carried over to its win over Richmond as Sam Houston never trailed and did not hold the lead
against richmond for 6:35 of the game.
KATS WELCOME NEW SET OF COORDINATORS
After leading the nation in scoring at 49.5 points per game in 2016, the Bearkats will hand the reins
of the offense over to a new coordinator in 2017. Tim Cramsey takes the headset, replacing Phil
Longo who departed to become the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss. Cramsey was most recently
the play caller at Nevada, but is no stranger to the FCS and being part of dominant offenses. He
spent three seasons directing the offense at Montana State, including a 2015 season that saw the
Bobcats average 41.9 points per game.
The Kats looked internally and elevated Clayton Carlin to defensive coordinator following the de
parture of Brad Sherrod, who joined the defensive staff at Wake Forest. Carlin spent 2016 on Keeler’s
staff coaching defensive backs, but has held the defensive coordinator spot at three stops prior to
Sam Houston. Most recently he was the defensive coordinator for four years at Coastal Carolina, but
also held the position at both Bucknell and Cornell before eventually joining the Chanticleers.