Huntsville, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Houston State wrapped up its spring practices Friday night and second-year coach K.C. Keeler came away anticipating what could be a banner 2015 season.
The Bearkats' White team defeated the Orange, 52-48, at Bowers Stadium using a special scoring system in the annual spring scrimmage.
"We've improved so much since the end of last season," said Keeler, whose team won a share of the Southland Conference title and reached the FCS national semifinals. It will return 20 starters this year.
"I really feel good about this group and the kids feel good about themselves," Keeler added. "Tonight was only the third time we've hit in full pads, so we missed a few tackles, but overall it was a great night."
Among the quarterbacks, UAB transfer Jeremiah Briscoe saw the most plays, completing 10-of-14 pass attempts for 116 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to Josh Reynolds.
Returning starter Jared Johnson was 4-for-8 for 31 yards and Don King was 6- for-11 for 31 yards.
Defensive end P.J. Hall led the Bearkats defensively.
"Every team is different and, with this group, we didn't need to hit quite so much. We wanted to work on fundamentals and avoid injuries," Keeler said. "We've got a lot of conditioning work with Coach (Brian) Hess in the weight room to get bigger and stronger. But, if we can play clean and stay healthy, this team is going to win some football games next fall."
In Keeler's first season at Sam Houston, the Bearkats finished 11-5 and with a No. 6 final ranking in The Sports Network FCS Top 25. Their program was the national runner-up in 2011 and '12.
Sam Houston will play 11 regular-season games this year, kicking off on Sept. 5 at Texas Tech.