CFN Take: Texas State, Lowe Run Wild On ASU
2014 Texas State Bobcats - Head Coach: Dennis Franchione
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 Arkansas-PB W 65-0
Sep. 6 OPEN DATE
Sep. 13 Navy L 35-21
Sep. 20 at Illinois L 42-35
Sep. 27 at Tulsa W 37-34 3OT
Oct. 4 Idaho W 35-30
Oct. 14 Louisiana-Laf L 34-10
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 at ULM W 22-18
Nov. 1 at New Mexico St W 37-29
Nov. 8 Georgia Southern L 28-25
Nov. 15 at So Alabama L 24-20
Nov. 20 Arkansas State W 45-27
Nov. 29 at Georgia State
Nov. 20 at Texas State 45, Arkansas State 27
And You Care Because … The Texas State running game went wild with Robert Lowe leading the way with four touchdown runs from 26 and nine yards out in the first half, and scoring dashes from 24 and 50 yards away in the fourth to pull away. The TXST passing game became part of the mix, too, with Tyler Jones starting off the scoring with a two-yard pass to Demun Mercer, and finding C.J. Best for a 70-yard touchdown. ASU stayed alive with two Fredi Knighten touchdown passes, but the Bobcats were able to stay comfortably ahead in the second half.
What Else? Texas State RB Robert Lowe ran 29 times for 236 yards and four scores
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 31-of-57 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 19 times for 40 yards
- Total yards: Texas State 562 – Arkansas State 498
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 14-of-22 passes for 192 yards and two scores, and ran 18 times for 77 yards
Game Rating: C
Nov. 15 at South Alabama 24, Texas State 20
And You Care Because … South Alabama got a Hunter Vaughn 28-yard touchdown catch and an eight-yard scoring throw to Danny Woodson, to go along with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Timmons for the 24-17 lead, but the D had to come up with a stop as Tyler Jones' final pass attempt from the four-yard line fell incomplete in the end zone. Texas State started out up 10-0 on with a one-yard Robert Lowe run and the first of two Will Johnson field goals, and was up 17-7 late in the first half on a 46-yard Lawrence Wright catch. USA scored 17 straight points before TXST got back on the board with Johnson’s second field goal.
What Else? South Alabama QB Hunter Vaughn completed 20-of-28 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown with a pick, ran 12 times for 15 yards, and caught a 28-yard touchdown pass
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 25-of-42 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown
- Turnovers: South Alabama 4 – Texas State 0
- Total yards: Texas State 406 – South Alabama 384
Game Rating: B+
Nov. 8 Georgia Southern 28, at Texas State 25
And You Care Because … Matt Breida ran for two touchdowns and Matt Dobson returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown as Georgia Southern got up 28-10 and held on late. Texas State rallied back from down 21-3 with a two Tyler Jones touchdown passes and a one-yard Robert Lowe run, but it wasn’t enough. The Bobcat defense did as good a job as anyone all year against the Georgia Southern attack, allowing just 268 yards, but the damage was done early.
What Else? First downs: Texas State 26 – Georgia Southern 9
- Georgia Southern RB Matt Brieda ran 11 times for 120 yards and two scores
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 30-of-51 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran 17 times for 24 yards
- Georgia Southern QB Kevin Ellison completed 6-of-9 passes for 41 yards and ran 17 times for 62 yards
Game Rating: B
Nov. 1 Texas State 37, at New Mexico State 29
And You Care Because … Texas State took advantage of several NMSU mistakes with Robert Lowe running for two touchdowns in the first quarter and two Terrence Frank scores – the second from a blocked punt return – in the third. New Mexico State’s offense rolled, getting close down 17-14 the end of the first half on a two-yard Joseph Matthews run, but it was all franks early in the second half. NMSU had its moments, and tried to close late on a 13-yard Larry Rose run and a Teldrick Morgan 21-yard touchdown pass, but the Bobcats were able to hold on.
What Else? B-
- Texas State RB Tyler Jones ran nine times for 82 yards, and Robert Lower ran 16 times for 65 yards and two scores
- New Mexico State QB Tyler Rogers completed 36-of-52 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions
- Penalties: New Mexico State 11 for 76 yards – Texas State 7 for 55 yards
Game Rating: B-
Oct. 25 Texas State 22, at ULM 18
And You Care Because … Robert Lowe ran for a 21-yard touchdown run as part of a Texas State run of 15 unanswered points late in the fourth, and the defense held for the win. ULM had a 15-0 lead in the third quarter helped by Justin Manton field goals from 51 and 43 yards out and a six-yard run from Centarius Donald, but the Bobcat offense woke up with Lowe starting out the scoring on a 15-yard dash late in the third. Terrence Franks caught a 40-yard touchdown pass with under seven minutes to play, and a Tyler Jones two-point conversion got the Bobcats within three before the final scoring drive.
What Else? Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 14-of-20 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, and ran 17 times for 36 yards
- ULM QB Pete Thomas completed 22-of-36 passes for 236 yards and a pick, and ran 11 times for 29 yards
- Third down conversions: ULM 7-of-19 – Texas State 3-of-14
- Texas State RB Terrence Franks caught two passes for 68 yards and a score, and ran six times for 16 yards
Game Rating: B-
Oct. 15 Louisiana-Lafayette 34, at Texas State 10
And You Care Because … The Ragin’ Cajun offense exploded on the way to a 21-3 halftime lead and a 34-3 lead with Elijah McGuire running for scores from 62 and 13 yards out and helped by Hunter Stover field goals from 19 and 32 yards away in the fourth quarter. The defense got into the act with a 41-yard Christian Ringo 41-yard fumble return for a score in the second quarter. Texas State only managed a 20-yard Will Johnson field goal before finally getting into the end zone in the final moments on a 33-yard Brice Gunter catch.
What Else? Total yards: Louisiana-Lafayette 516 – Texas State 270
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 14-of-23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Louisiana-Lafayette QB Terrance Broadway completed 14-of-21 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and ran 19 times for a team-leading 101 yards
- Time of possession: ULL 38:38 – Texas State 21:22
Game Rating: D+
Oct. 4 at Texas State 35, Idaho 30
And You Care Because … Terrence Franks ran wild, taking off for touchdown runs from 70, 96 and 70 yards, and Tyler Jones threw a touchdown pass and ran for a 27-yarder, but Texas State had a tough time shaking Idaho. The Vandals kept up the pace helped by two touchdown runs from Elijaa Penny and short scores from Richard Montgomery and Aaron Duckworth. Penny’s second run pulled Idaho within five late, but the Bobcats hung on.
What Else? Texas State RB Terrence Franks ran 15 times for 284 yards and three scores
- Turnovers: Texas State 4 – Idaho 2
- Time of possession: Idaho 41:12 – Texas State 18:48
- Idaho QB Matt Linehan completed 33-of-52 passes for 347 yards and two picks
Game Rating: B
Sept. 27 Texas State 37, at Tulsa 34 3OT
And You Care Because … In the third overtime, Tulsa came up with a Carl Salazar field goal, and Texas State answered with a two-yard Terrence Franks touchdown run to finish off the wild win. Down 17-3 going into the fourth, Tulsa stormed back with Dane Evans throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Conner Floyd with just under ten minutes to play and capping off a 17-play drive with a one-yard score with ten seconds left to force OT. He stayed hot with a ten-yard Keevan Lucas scoring grab, but Texas State answered with its first touchdown since early in the third on a five-yard Jafus Gaines catch. The two teams traded touchdowns in the second overtime with Ben Ijah scoring for the Bobcats and Zach Langer answered with a four-yard score for Tulsa, but the third OT drive stalled leading to the field goal that Texas State was able to better.
What Else? Texas State RB Terrence Franks ran 20 times for 71 yards and two scores
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 23-of-40 passes for 234 yards and two touchdown with an interception and a touchdown run
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 21-of-31 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 20 times for 51 yards and a score
- Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett caught eight passes for 117 yards
Game Rating: A-
Sept. 20 Illinois 42, Texas State 35
And You Care Because … As has become the personality of this Illinois team in 2014, it rallied in the final quarter to pull out the victory. The Illini outscored the Bobcats, 17-7, over the final 15 minutes, getting a Wes Lunt touchdown pass and a V’Angelo Bentley pick-six from 45 yards out. Texas State made it a one-score game on Tyler Jones touchdown pass in the final minute, but was unable to get the ball back to possibly the game into overtime.
What Else? Lunt threw a pair of touchdown passes, but RB Josh Ferguson was the star for the Illini. He rushed for 190 yards, caught four passes and scored three touchdowns.
- Despite feeling a ton of pressure, Jones stood tall in the pocket and kept Texas State competitive throughout. He completed 29-of-43 for 336 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
- The Illini really cranked up the pressure, led by LB Mason Monheim, DE Dawuane Smoot and NT Austin Teitsma, who had eight stops for loss between them. But Illinois must make more stops in Big Ten play after laboring to stop a Sun Belt offense.
- The Bobcats will kick themselves when they watch the film and see how well they played on offense. Texas State clicked on 10-of-20 third-down tries and scored touchdowns on all five red-zone trips.
Game Rating: B
Sept. 13 Navy 35, at Texas State 21
And You Care Because … Navy kept the machine rolling without star QB Keenan Reynolds, who sat out with a knee injury suffered against Temple. The Midshipmen got out to a 28-0 first half lead helped by two touchdown runs from Tago Smith and a six-yard pass to Brendan Dudeck. Smith hooked up with Jamir Tillman from 67 yards out to squash the Texas State scoring threat after the Bobcats had scored 14 straight points on one-yard runs from Tyler Jones and Robert Lowe.
What Else? Navy QB Tago Smith completed 5-of-7 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 27 times for 85 yards and two scores.
- Texas State committed 11 penalties for 125 yards
- Navy RB Noah Copeland ran 11 times for 116 yards
- Texas State completed 24-of-36 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 19 times for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Game Rating: C
Aug. 30 at Texas State 65, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 0
And You Care Because … Texas State cranked out a school-record 697 yards of total offense and got up 42-0 at halftime highlighted by four touchdown passes from Tyler Jones with two to Jafus Gaines, who caught four passes for 119 yards and two scores. The Bobcats were never threatened, scoring on their first drive and rolling at will throughout the first half. Louis Rubin ran for two fourth quarter touchdowns. Jones completed 21-of-25 passes for 278 yards and four scores, and ran six times for 51 yards, and Robert Lowe ran 14 times for 150 yards and a score.
Game Rating: D-
It takes a while to build up a college football program, but Dennis Franchione is quickly turning Texas State into something that bears watching over the next few seasons.
The Bobcats announced their arrival up to the next level in the 2012 opener with a dominant 30-13 win over Houston, but only one three games the rest of the way, all against miserable teams. There were signs of good things to come, but the program just didn’t have enough FBS talents and depth to do anything consistent. In 2013, Franchione took things the proverbial next step forward.
It wasn’t just that TXST won two more games in 2013; the team played a lot better and was more competitive.
The offense wasn’t quite as good and wasn’t quite as sharp, hitting a big lull at times against the better Sun Belt teams, but the defense improved a wee bit, at least up until a rough final three games giving up 118 points in three losses. But again, everything is building, and going 6-6 with good wins over Wyoming and South Alabama, while not blowing the two-foot putts against the weak teams on the slate, was a major positive. So now what can Franchione and the Bobcats do to be even more of a player?
The biggest issue is going to be finding decent depth to rely on game in and game out. Six JUCO transfers can help a little bit, and the coaching staff will rely on the latest recruiting class to grow up quickly, but with just four starters returning on defense, it could be rocky for a little while before the right players are in the correct spots. Fortunately, the offense that took a dip in 2013 should come out roaring this year.
After failing and flailing way too often, finishing 111th in the nation in total offense, there’s a chance to be far, far better with nine starters back with a good line that knows how to operate the spread attack, and with veterans in the backfield who know what they’re doing now.
Even with everything going right, it might not be enough to win the Sun Belt title, but Franchione knows how to do big things with rising programs and should make this a more interesting season.
What to watch for on offense: Passing game, passing game, passing game. The running attack was expected to be fantastic last year with several excellent prospects working in a back-friendly offense, but the results were mixed. Part of the reason was the inconsistent play of the line, and part of the reason was that no one believed the Bobcats could do anything to throw the ball. Tyler Jones doesn’t have to throw for 300 yards a game, but he has to connect on a big play once in a while to loosen things up a bit. When the passing game worked, like it did when Jones connected on 19-of-23 passes for 228 yards and two scores against Idaho, everything was fine. When the air show averaged under five yards per throw, everything stalled. The receivers have to hit home runs, and Jones can’t throw picks. If that happens, considering the passing game came up with just 1,857 yards last season, watch out.
What to watch for on defense: Find defensive linemen who can play. Now. The linebacking corps has the potential to be the best in the Sun Belt with Michael Orakpo and David Mayo two fantastic hitters in the 4-2-5 alignment, and the secondary will come around with good-looking new guys working around CB Craig Mager and S Colby Targum, but the defensive front has to come up with four new starters with two sophomores likely to work inside and two senior on the outside. The Bobcat run defense was fantastic last season allowing just 147 yards per game even though there weren’t a ton of plays behind the line and the pass rush was mediocre. This isn’t a massive line, and there needs to be a good rotation early on.
The team will be far better if… the offense can move the ball. Time of possession wasn’t an issue, but the offense just didn’t come up with enough third down plays and didn’t crank up enough first downs with just 193 – that’s not a lot. The offense was inconsistent with several new parts trying to figure out what they were doing, and when it stalled and didn’t come up with first downs, nothing worked. TXST only came up with more than 20 first downs twice, both wins, and failed to come up with 15 in four games. By apples-and-oranges comparison, Auburn generated 334 first downs and had 20 or more in 11 games. Sun Belt star Arkansas State generated 20 or more nine times.
The Schedule: The Bobcats have to own San Marcos. Out of the six home games, two come right away in the first two games against Prairie View A&M and Navy, meaning six of the last ten games are on the road including a rough finishing kick of four in the last six. Fortunately, good-looking Sun Belt teams Georgia Southern, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State are all at home, and the conference road games aren’t that awful going to ULM, New Mexico State and Georgia State to go along with a tough date with South Alabama. Going on the road to face Illinois and Tulsa in non-conference play isn’t awful, and if the Bobcats can come up with just one win against either of those two or Navy, it’ll be a plus.
Best offensive player: Junior RB Robert Lowe. The Bobcats were expected to use a running back by committee approach with several excellent options, but it turned out to be Lowe who handled most of the workload. There are just as many good backs this season with Terrance Franks and Chris Nutall two good runners who can come up with big plays and handle the work from time to time, but it’s Lowe’s ground game to run. The junior only ran the ball 164 times, and while he doesn’t need to be a workhorse, he should be the star when the offense is working.
Best defensive player: Senior LB Michael Orakpo. It’s not often a team loses its top-tackling linebacker and might be a bit better, but even with Damion McMiller and his 94 tackles done, the Bobcats will be more than fine with great-hitter David Mayo and all-around playmaker Michael Orakpo controlling the ground game. Orakpo came in from Colorado State after a controversial dismissal, and he turned into the team’s most dangerous pass rusher right away. Combining with Mayo, Orakpo should put up huge numbers for what could be the Sun Belt’s best linebacking duo.
Key players to a successful season: Sophomore DTs Darius Hood and Dallas McClarty. If the run defense is going to repeat the success of last season, the defensive front has to keep things clean so the tremendous running backs can roam free and make things happen. However, there’s almost no size whatsoever up front outside of Hood and McClarty, who each check in at a squatty 6-1 and 280 pounds. The Bobcats rely on quickness and athleticism up front, but these two have to be tough and nasty.
The season will be a success if ... TXST wins seven games. There are too many concerns and not enough depth to win the Sun Belt title, but if the whole idea is to keep improving, winning one more game than 2013 would be a major positive. It won’t be easy, and it’ll require a few upsets to do it, but if the Bobcats can beat all the awful teams in the Sun Belt, and shock a few of the good ones, it’s possible. This has to become a team that everyone else has to worry about, so getting better as the season goes on is a must.
Key game: Oct. 14 vs Louisiana-Lafayette. If everything goes according to form, Texas State should whack Prairie View A&M and Idaho, and should lose at least two of the three games against Navy, at Illinois and at Tulsa. If there’s any hope of coming up with a winning season, and any hope of generating any sort of a Sun Belt buzz, the showdown with the loaded Ragin’ Cajuns will be vital. With three of the next four games on the road, it could be a rough season if the Bobcats can’t pull off what would be the most important win in the Coach Fran era.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Time of Possession: Texas State 31:54 – Opponents 28:06
- Average Passing Yards Per Game: Opponents 249.2 – Texas State 154.8
- 4th Down Conversions: Texas State 11-of-21 (52%) – Opponents 9-of-30 (30%)
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