2012 Texas State Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Texas State Bobcats Offense
Texas State Bobcats
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The Bobcats spread offense runs the ball and uses the passing game to connect on the big play when defenses worry about the ground game. Veteran quarterback Shaun Rutherford is a good dual-threat playmaker, but he’s not all that big and will take some shots meaning the ground game could rely even more on the rotation of running backs Marcus Curry and Terrence Franks. The tight ends are solid led by Chase Harper, who might be the best in the WAC, while there’s enough speed at receiver to overcome the lack of experience. The line is the biggest concern with three new starters and no developed depth whatsoever.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Terrence Franks
Passing: Shaun Rutherford
91-156, 1,227 yds, 12 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Terrence Franks
146 carries, 863 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Darius Bolden
30 catches, 473 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore OGs Jackson Costello and Zach Crawford
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Kyle Doll
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Chase Harper
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Franks, 2) QB Shaun Rutherford, 3) TE Chase Harper
Strength of the offense: Running, Tight End
Weakness of the offense: Passing, Offensive Line
Senior Shaun Rutherford did a nice job of running the ground game and came up with a decent, effective passing year considering the attack. The 6-0, 185-pounder isn’t big, and he isn’t a bomber, but he completed 58% of his passes for 1,227 yards and 12 scores with just four interceptions, while finishing third on the team with 449 rushing yards and three scores. The former JUCO transfer stepped in and was ready to roll right away after backing up Cam Newton and Blinn JC, and now he should be an even steadier all-around playmaker after a year of experience in the attack. However, he’s not built to take big shots and was out late in the year. Staying healthy is a must.
Considering Rutherford’s size, the backups have to be at the ready. 6-4, 215-pound junior Tyler Arndt stepped in late in the season for an injured Rutherford and was used throughout the year as more of a passing option, finishing with 576 yards and three touchdowns with three picks. The part-time starter in 2010, he’s experienced and ready to step in from time to time and push the ball down the field more than Rutherford. While he’s not a great runner, he’s not immobile.
Jack Rhoades was the No. 3 quarterback last year but was able to take the year off as a redshirt. The 6-3, 185-pounder is very smart and extremely athletic with excellent passing skills, throwing for 3,587 yards and 48 touchdowns in his final year of high school.
Watch Out For … Rutherford to do even more. He showed he could throw a bit with 241 yards and four scores against Stephen F. Austin and 243 yards and three touchdowns against Lamar, but his real worth is as a dual-threat playmaker. The offense is his to fly.
Strength: Options and experience. It’s not like Rutherford can’t throw, and he was effective when needed, but Arndt can step in and produce if needed. This is Rutherford’s offense, but the coaching staff can play around with the options.
Weakness: Passing offense. The passing game has been an afterthought, finishing last year with just 1,799 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven picks. No one’s going to be worried about the downfield passing attack.
Outlook: Rutherford is the type of veteran playmaker who can make big things happen in the WAC. The offense sputtered a bit too much with Arndt under center, but he’s a veteran backup and a passer who can bring a different look.
Unit Rating: 5.5
The running game found a threat in sophomore Terrence Franks, who cranked out a team-leading 863 yards and nine touchdowns showing home run hitting ability and decent power at time for his size. He’s only 5-10 and 190 pounds, but he can be used between the tackles when needed. However, he’s at his best in the open field cranking out a 74-yard touchdown on his 234-yard day against SE Louisiana. He wasn’t necessarily a workhorse, and he’ll be a part of a rotation, but he’ll be used even more now.
Senior Marcus Curry started six times and finished second on the team with 637 yards and three scores, averaging five yards per carry. At 5-11 and 210 pounds he has decent size and great quickness, used as a receiver from time to time finishing fourth on the team with 13 grabs for 119 yards. Quicker than fast, he can find a seam and bust off a big run by getting through the wash.
5-8, 185-pound sophomore Chris Nutall got some work in as a true freshman running for 71 yards and a score. A good recruit for the program, he’s tremendously quick, smart, and has the potential to be the perfect fit for the attack with the ability to run inside and out.
Watch Out For … the rotation. The Bobcats run the ball, and while they didn’t use too many backs and got production out of the quarterbacks, there might be more runners in the mix to work in the rotation with Curry and Franks. The coaching staff is creative at getting good players the ball.
Strength: Quickness and production. Curry and Franks can zip and dart through the line with each averaging over five yards per carry. The offense puts the backs in a position to succeed, and they should be able to put up nice numbers again.
Weakness: Power. It’s not like the backs can’t get through the middle of the line, but there isn’t a true blaster in the bunch. His isn’t a power running offense and there isn’t anyone who can thump a defense.
Outlook: The Bobcats running backs will put up nice numbers and everyone will stay fresh in the rotation. Dennis Franchione knows how to get production out of a running game, and with help from the quarterbacks, a 2,000-yard season as a team is a given.
Unit Rating: 5
Junior Isaiah Battle came over from Blinn College and put up a nice first year finishing second on the team with 27 catches for 368 yards while leading the way with five touchdown grabs. At 5-11 and 200 pounds he’s a decent-sized target with the toughness for the inside Z position and just enough speed to takeover on the outside X. He’s also used on kickoffs.
There will be an ongoing battle for playing time with some key losses. Junior Cody Matthews has 6-4, 180-pound size and a little bit of experience catching eight passes for 114 yards and a score. With just enough speed to work on the outside, he can play anywhere in the receiving corps, as can junior Andy Erickson, who got a start last year but mostly worked as a kick and punt returner. The 5-10, 175-pound transfer from Rice is quick and can make things happen in space and as a runner.
Working in a variety of roles is Tim Hawkins, who was a key part of the running game last year finishing with 288 yards and four scores. Now he’ll be a jack-of-all-trades and will be more of a receiver after catching eight passes for 21 yards. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, he’s built for the job.
The tight ends will be used more and more with Chase Harper being one of the team’s top targets. The former transfer from Navarro College finished third on the team with 20 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns, showing off his speed with a 71-yard scoring play against Stephen F. Austin. At 6-5 and 260 pounds he has size, athleticism, and the talent to have played at a much bigger school. Also in the equation is junior Kyle Doll, a 6-5, 220-pound receiver from Blinn College who stepped in and caught six passes for 97 yards and a score. He’s not a big-time blocker, but he has nice hands.
Watch Out For … the top receivers to emerge this offseason. Battle is a lock for one spot, but JUCO transfer Rodney Woodland is just one of several options to try to make the passing game stronger. 5-7, 155-pound speedster Michael Gilmore and 5-11, 185-pound sophomore Deche Milburn are about to shine and are the future of the attack.
Strength: Tight ends. Harper is a pro prospect who might be the best tight end in the WAC, while Doll is a good pass catcher who can stretch the field. They’re the perfect safety valves.
Weakness: The offense. The Bobcats run first, run second, and think about throwing third. The receivers have to make the most of their chances and shine when they get the opportunity.
Outlook: TSU has to replace top target Darius Bolden and loses Alvaro Garcia, but there’s enough speed and athleticism to make up for it. The tight ends are strong and the deep balls will be there for an offense that uses the pass as a surprise.
Unit Rating: 4
Three starters need to be replaced up front with the left side the biggest concern. 6-5, 245-pound junior Devin Baker spent last year backing up Michael Chambers at left tackle and ended up starting twice. The former tight end is way too small to be a regular offensive tackle, but he can move and he’s physical enough to fit the offense. He can work at either tackle job, but the attack will work around senior Thaddeus Watkins, who stepped in from Diablo Valley College and grew into one of the team’s top run blockers. At 6-5 and 285 pounds he has the size the line needs, and he can move just enough to work at either tackle spot after starting nine times on the right side.
6-2, 270-pound sophomore Collin Fissell started three times at tackle and could end up taking over a job by simply being a bigger option than Baker. He’s not tall and he’s not a blaster of a blocker, but he moves well and can work at either tackle job.
Center was a concern going into last year, but 6-2, 285-pound sophomore Charlie Will Tuttle took over and ended up starting seven times. He has decent size and moves well, making the job in the middle his.
Both guard spots are open with 6-4, 293-pound Jackson Costello and 6-2, 280-pound Zach Crawford ready after waiting in the wings as true freshmen. Crawford isn’t huge, but he’s built to be a solid right guard with good strength and leverage, while Costello is tackle-sized and can work just about anywhere up front.
JUCO transfer Tyler Potter is a guard who could step into a starting role right away and could end up seeing time at tackle to use his 6-4, 295-pound size, while the 6-3, 275-pound junior Lee Conoly was a key backup and worked on special teams and could be used on the inside.
Watch Out For … a lot of shifting around. JUCO transfers, new recruits, and young untested options will all be in the equation to help replace three starters and beef up the depleted depth.
Strength: Run blocking. Texas State gets a type of blocker who fits the system. Bobcat offensive linemen have to get on the move and have to show the mobility to get down the field. Athleticism is valued more than raw bulk.
Weakness: Sure things. Tuttle is fine in the middle and Watkins will work at one tackle, but that’s about it. There are several options, but cohesiveness could be a problem early on.
Outlook: The blocking was solid for the running game, but it struggled in pass protection when it had to keep defensive lines out of the backfield. With three new starters including two guards and a left tackle, it’s going to take a little while to come up with the right combination. The line will turn out to be fine, but it won’t be a strength.
Unit Rating: 4
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