2012 Texas State Preview

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Posted Aug 8, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Texas State Bobcats


Texas State Bobcats

Preview 2012
 

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Dennis Franchione
4th year: 19-15
27th year overall: 193-107-2
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 23, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Texas State Players
1. FS Xavier Daniels, Jr.
2. CB Darryl Morris, Sr.
3. TE Chase Harper, Sr.
4. LB Joplo Bartu, Sr.
5. RB Terrence Franks, Soph.
6. QB Shaun Rutherford, Sr.
7. S Aaron Matthews, Sr.
8. LB Brian Lilly, Sr.
9. OT Thaddeus Watkins, Jr.
10. WR Isaiah Battle, Jr.
2012 Schedule
Sept. 1 at Houston
Sept. 8 Texas Tech
Sept. 15 OPEN DATE
Sept. 22 Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 29 Nevada
Oct. 6 at New Mexico
Oct. 13 Idaho
Oct. 20 OPEN DATE
Oct. 27 at San Jose State
Nov. 3 at Utah State
Nov. 10 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 17 at Navy
Nov. 24 at UTSA
Dec. 1 New Mexico State
Texas State could be one of the WAC’s more fun teams to keep an eye on, at least for one year before bolting to the Sun Belt.

Head coach Dennis Franchione knows how to get a running game going, and his team’s spread attack could be just quirky enough and just good enough to throw some of the better defenses a bit of a curveball. And considering the program is looking to walk in the new FBS world before it can run, anything it’s able to do this season will be a big positive before truly hitting its stride going into next season.

With seven starters back on offense and nine returning on D, the potential is there to hang around with almost anyone in the league as long as the running game is rolling. But can Franchione ask for even more? Is there enough talent to be one of the sleepers in the title chase? No, especially after having problems with the SE Louisianas and Sam Houston States of the lower level and getting obliterated by Texas Tech and Wyoming by a combined score of 95 to 20. Even so, the spread can be the great equalizer, and Franchione has the players to run it.

The top five rushers from last year return from a group that averaged 195 rushing yards per game and was able to move for 256 yards against Texas Tech and hit the 200-yard mark seven times. There were some brick walls to get through at times, but with a more experienced team that knows what it’s doing, the consistency might be there even though the competition and schedule are tougher.

The defense did a nice job for the most part, outside of a few breakdown games against the better passing teams, and with nine starters returning there will be a few times when the Bobcats will get into some slugfests. The linebackers should be solid and the defensive backfield is all back full with five starters returning.

No, there isn’t nearly enough talent on both sides of the ball to get by Louisiana Tech and win the WAC, and getting to six wins might be a tall task, but the coaching should be top notch, the excitement is there with the big move, and the offense should do its part in the staging-area season for the program. before taking off to its permanent home.

What to watch for on offense: How fast can the line come together? The spread attack the way TSU runs it is all about timing and being able to create just enough space so the runners can fly. The quarterback situation will eventually be fine with a rotation of Shaun Rutherford and Tyler Arndt, and the backfield is loaded with good backs and options. Now it will be up to the line come up with a surprising season after losing leader D.J. Hall and with new starters needing to come up big right away. The right side should be fine with Charlie Will Tuttle at guard after spending last season at center, and with Thaddeus Watkins returning at tackle, but left tackle is a concern with Adley Eshraghipour moving over from the defensive side. Matt Freeman is a young but promising center.

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5 has to fine someone up front who can get into the backfield on a consistent basis. The Bobcats came up with seven sacks against Lamar and seven against Nicholls State, but managed 17 in the other ten games. The D will be ultra-aggressive and it has a few good returning pass rushers in linebacker Joplo Bartu and corner Darryl Morris, but Michael Ebbitt and his 11.5 sacks are gone and it might take a slew of players to pick up the slack. Ideally, the line does its job and gets behind the line, but the back seven has the experience to come up with big plays if needed.

The team will be far better if … the turnover margin is on its side. The defense was able to come up with five takeaways against Central Arkansas and lost with a +4 turnover margin, so ball security isn’t everything, but the offense ended up losing 17 fumbles and put it on the ground a whopping 33 times, but the seven picks weren’t bad for a team that didn’t take many chances with the passing game. The Bobcats went 1-3 last season when turning the ball over fewer than twice, and this season the wins won’t come against the better schedule if the offense is giving it away several times a game.

The schedule: The Bobcats were able to go 6-6 last year, but there aren’t any more Tarleton States or Lamars to use as layups There is Stephen F. Austin, who TSU beat 35-26, but that’s about it as far as winnable games other than the date with the other WAC newcomer, UTSA. However, the date with the Roadrunners is on the road. A home date with New Mexico State is one of the only other possible wins, and it’s probably going to take a few major upsets on the road to think about a winning season with four road games in a five week span over the second half of the year.

Best offensive player: Senior TE Chase Harper. The Bobcats aren’t going to wing it around the yard, and they have receiver options, but Harper should be the go-to guy on key plays. The 6-5, 260-pound senior is a terrific athlete with NFL upside, and now he’ll get the ball coming his way more often after catching 20 passes for 287 yards and three scores. Not just a receiver, he can block a little, too, with the ability to seal off the outside and lead to the big play.

Best defensive player: Junior S Xavier Daniels. It’s not necessarily a plus when the team’s leading tackler is a safety, and while the thin 6-0, 165-pound Daniels doesn’t look the part, he was able to hold up making 77 tackles with three picks and five broken up passes. Tough in the open field and with the speed and range to come up with big play after big play at free safety, he should be one of the leaders on a defense loaded with veterans.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Shaun Rutherford and Junior QB Tyler Arndt. The Bobcats aren’t necessarily going to alternate during each series, but they’ll have two options to play around with depending on who’s hot. Rutherford came up with a nice year running for 449 yards and three scores and completing 58% if his passes with 12 touchdowns and just four picks. Meanwhile, Arndt threw for 576 yards and three scores coming off a knee injury and should be able to do more when he gets his chances. TSU needs steady quarterback play throughout, but it mostly needs these two to be playmakers.

The season will be a success if … the Bobcats win five games. Beating Stephen F. Austin is a must and coming up with a victory over fellow WAC new guy UTSA will be needed, but to get close to bowl eligibility it will take home wins over Idaho and New Mexico State to be in range. Forget about more than six wins, but this team could come close.

Key game: Oct. 6 at New Mexico. The Lobos might be from the better and stronger Mountain West, but Bob Davie’s team isn’t exactly a powerhouse. TSU will get blasted by Nevada the week before and will likely be 1-3, at best, before going to Albuquerque, but with Idaho up next and a winnable road game at San Jose State to follow, coming up with a good non-conference win might start a run.

2011 Fun Stats:
- Punt Return Average: Texas State 11.5 yards – Opponents 6.7 yards
- Time of Possession: Texas State 32:02 – Opponents 27:57
- Penalties: Texas State 90 for 845 yards – Opponents 75 for 642 yards

- 2012 Texas State Preview | 2012 Texas State Offense
- 2012 Texas State Defense | 2012 Texas State Depth Chart