CFN Preview 2013 - Texas State Bobcats
Texas State WR Andy Erickson
Texas State WR Andy Erickson
Posted May 31, 2013 2013 Preview - Texas State Bobcats

Texas State Bobcats

Preview 2013

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- 2012 Texas State Preview

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Dennis Franchione
5th year: 23-23
Returning Lettermen: 54
Off. 23, Def. 22, ST 9
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best TXST Players
1. DT D.J. Yendrey, Sr.
2. LB Mike Orakpo, Jr.
3. CB Xavier Daniels, Sr.
4. WR/PR Andy Erickson, Sr.
5. S Aaron Matthews, Sr.
6. RB Robert Lowe, Soph.
7. CB Craig Mager, Jr.
8. WR Isaiah Battle, Sr.
9. DT Blake McColloch, Sr.
10. RB Tim Gay, Soph.
2013 Schedule
8/31 at Southern Miss
9/7 Prairie View A&M
9/21 at Texas Tech
9/28 Wyoming
10/5 at Louisiana
10/12 ULM
10/19 Georgia State
10/26 South Alabama
11/2 at Idaho
11/16 at Arkansas State
11/23 WKU
11/29 at Troy
Don't get too comfortable in the Sun Belt – the program could be just renting a space.

Texas State has plenty of big positives to sell to another step-up league like Conference USA, with a big enrollment, decent fan base and nice recruiting area, but after spending a year struggling through the WAC world, first there has to be some consistent success.

Head coach Dennis Franchione ran into some big problems defensively without the raw talent to keep up with the better WAC offenses, while the Bobcat attack wasn't consistent enough to keep up the pace on a regular basis. The opening day shocker against Houston was a mirage with the ground game failing to find any footing except against the truly miserable, while the passing game only came up big once in a long while.

However, there's hope for a big improvement overall with seven starters back on each side of the ball along with, arguably, the best special teams in college football. Franchione is trying to get the spread attack moving, and he's starting to get just the right players and pieces in place with a talented backfield full of speedy and dangerous running backs, and a veteran receiving corps that could blossom with better quarterback play.

The defense that was such a train wreck throughout all of last year welcomes back Aaron Matthews at safety after missing all of last year, and it's bringing in two terrific – but troubled – big names in former Colorado State linebacker Mike Orakpo and former TCU defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey. These two will instantly be among the Sun Belt's top defenders, and with all the experience working around them, there's no reason for the D to see a big upgrade.

So can TXST make it three conferences in three years by getting a call after this season? For now, the program and football team merely have to focus on simply winning a few more games. As attractive as the TXST's upside might be, it'll look even brighter as a player in the Sun Belt.

What to watch for on offense: Can the passing attack be more consistent to take the heat off the ground game? Five good running backs are in place keep the spread offense going and replace the loss of top rusher Marcus Curry and running quarterback Shaun Rutherford, and the receivers should be terrific with Andy Erickson and Isaiah Battle good enough to be a dangerous Sun Belt tandem, the quarterback play has to be sharper. There were way too many games when the offense couldn't do much to keep the chains moving, and while the passing game doesn't have to be explosive, it has to be effective.

What to watch for on defense: Can the Bobcats generate any semblance of a pass rush. How bad were things? TXST came up with two sacks against Houston in the opener and six in the finale against New Mexico State, but a grand total of four sacks in the middle ten games. The problems on D all start with getting to the quarterback, and after the secondary spent a year getting torched, and without any sure-thing pass rusher on the outside, it could be a struggle to find the playmakers needed to come up with a big change. It has to happen, because …

The team will be far better if … it can come up with a third down stop. The running game should do a decent job of holding on to the ball and keeping the clock moving, but the defense has to figure out how to get off the field after allowing offense to convert a ridiculous 46.5% of their third down chances. Only 14 teams were worse, and by comparison, BYU led the nation giving up third down chances 26.5% of the time. Too many quarterbacks were able to do whatever they wanted, and if the pass rush is better, the third down problems will slow down.

The schedule: The Bobcats don't have that much to do over the first half of the season with road games at Southern Miss, Texas Tech and Louisiana woven between home games against Prairie View A&M, Wyoming and ULM. With a nice midseason run of ULM, Georgia State and South Alabama all at home, TXST has to fatten up before closing out with the meat of the schedule. Going to Idaho might not be that big a problem, and getting a week off helps, but finishing up with at Arkansas State, WKU and at Troy isn't going to be rough.

Best offensive player: Sophomore RB Robert Lowe or Tim Gay. Receiver Andy Erickson is a star for both the offense and return game, but the Bobcat attack is built around the ground attack. TXST has to replace leading rusher Marcus Curry, and it shouldn't be a problem with speedsters Lowe and Gay each with size, toughness and athleticism to combine forces to come up with a big year. These two should rotate to give the offense exactly what it needs. As long as the line has a decent year, the running backs will be the stars.

Best defensive player: Senior DT D.J. Yendrey. Colorado State transfer Mike Orakpo could quickly turn out to be the star of the show at strongside linebacker, but Yendrey might be the team's best all-around play if he does what he did with TCU. While he's not huge for a tackle at 260 pounds, but he's extremely strong and quick off the ball. He should be a dominant force for the frount four.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Tyler Arndt. The improvements have to start with a more consistent passing game. The defense should be stronger with all the experience and the key new pickups, and the running game will control the offense, so now it's up to the passing game to keep up its end of the bargain. Redshirt freshman Jordan Moore is neck-and-neck for with Arndt for the job, and no matter who's under center, the production has to come.

The season will be a success if … TXST wins six games. After coming up with four victories and a shocking win over Houston, coming up with two more games with an easier schedule would be a big step. It's not asking for too much to beat Georgia State, South Alabama and Prairie View A&M at home, and if the Bobcats can get by Idaho and come up with a few Sun Belt wins, 6-6 more than possible.

Key game: Oct. 12 vs. ULM. The Sun Belt opener is the week before at Louisiana, but the Bobcats have to take advantage of the next day against a dangerous Warhawk team and its great offense. If the TXST wants to make a big splash, this will be a chance to do some big things with winnable games against Georgia State, South Alabama and Idaho to follow. Beating ULM will show that TXST belongs in its new league.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Texas State 2nd Quarter Scoring: 136 – Texas State 3rd Quarter Scoring: 54
- Sacks: Opponents 28 for 151 yards – Texas State 12 for 89 yards
- Opponent 1st Quarter Scoring: 138 – Opponents 4th Quarter Scoring: 37

- 2013 Texas State Preview | 2013 Texas State Offense
- 2013 Texas State Defense | 2013 Texas State Depth Chart