With 50 lettermen returning including 19 starters from a team that went 14-1, won the Southland Conference and reached the NCAA Division I national championship finals, expectations were high for fans coming into the 2012 Orange-White Spring Game Wednesday night.
The Bearkats did not disappoint as the offense rolled up six touchdowns and the defense came up with two turnovers in the 80-play scrimmage.
Junior quarterback Brian Bell completed 11 of 17 passes for 161 yards and a score. Senior wide receiver Trey Diller caught seven passes for 118 yards including a diving 26-yard touchdown catch.
Sophomore running back Keyshawn Hill carried six times for 47 yards and senior Vincent Dotson rushed 11 times for 49 yards. The scrimmage was strictly offense versus defense with no score being kept.
"We've had a good spring and this was a great way to end things," Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz said. "The players have really worked hard. The big thing we wanted to work on was with the 25- and 40-second clock and tackling. This was as close as we can simulate to a game. The quarterback's not going to be live, but was as close to a game as we could get."
A main focus point for Sam Houston during 2012 spring drills was integrating three new offensive coaches into the Bearkat system. New offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, wide receivers coach Matt Barrett and offensive line coach Bart Tatum have worked hard to improve the passing game and install the no-huddle offense.
"I'm excited that, offensively, I think we've taken a step in the right direction with throwing the football, but we can't lose our toughness and our run philosophy," the head coach said. "The toughest deal for anybody this spring has been for coach Ruse, trying to mesh what he's done with what we've done and our terminology and what we've done as well. There are some things we want to keep doing."
Backup quarterback Chris Greet rushed for a two-yard score and hit wide receiver Beau Smith for a five-yard touchdown. Hill broke for a 30-yard touchdown and Richard Sincere scored on a 15-yard reserve. Newcomer Cody Morgan added a 19-yard touchdown.
"We had a great crowd tonight," Fritz said of the more than 2,000 students and fans at Bowers Stadium. "The players had a great time working with the Huntsville area elementary kids who showed up for our 'Bearkat Experience" pregame session."
Sam Houston State will open the 2012 season on Thursday Sept. 8 against Incarnate Word.