2014 Texas St Preview: What You Need To Know

Posted May 30, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Texas State (Getty Images)

2014 Texas State Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Texas State Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: The Bobcat spread attack has the experience and has the potential to be far, far better after an awful season. Co-offensive coordinators Mike Schultz and Jeff Conway have to get more of a passing game out of Tyler Jones, a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who's growing into the job and has the potential to be terrific as the season goes on – but he needs receivers to help him out. The bread will be buttered with the ground game, including Jones running the ball, with Robert Lowe leading a deep and quick group of backs who can crank out big yards in chunks. The line is very big with great experienced on the left side, and it should be able to blast away at times. It all has to result in better results after finishing 111th in the nation in offense with one of the nation's least efficient passing games. That should change this year.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: Terrific last year until running out of gas late, now the defense needs to do a little bit of work having to replace seven starters and hoping for a smallish line to hold up. Fortunately, the linebackers in the 4-2-5 alignment are fantastic with Michael Orakpo and David Mayo two of the best in the Sun Belt. These two will do a little of everything, while the veteran secondary should be fine if the line can get into the backfield once in a while. All four starters are gone up front, but there's promise on the inside with sophomore tackles Darius Hood and Dallas McClarty two quick options to build around. The Bobcats are great at keeping the big plays to a minimum, but now the defense has to come up with more game-changing moments of its own.

Players You Need To Know

1. LB Michael Orakpo, Sr.
The linebacking corps needed to find playmakers after undergoing an overhaul, and the hope was for Orakpo to step in and become a star right away after getting booted by Colorado State after an ugly off-the-field incident. Baylor wanted him, Texas State got him. He came through every bit as well as expected, earning all-star honors making 71 tackles with 4.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss. The 6-1, 226-pounder is a huge hitter who came up with three forced fumbles and showing off tremendous range. A leader, he earned the respect of the team to be named a team captain, and now he should be in for a huge season both as a pass rusher and a run stopper. The Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year honor is on the table.

2. LB David Mayo, Sr.
Returning to the middle of the linebacking corps as a tough interior presence for his third straight year is the tough Mayo, a great recruit from California with excellent quickness and range. He came up with 41 tackles two years ago before getting knocked out of the year hurt, but last year the 6-2, 228-pounder held up to become an all-star and team captain starting ten games making 89 tackles highlighted by a huge 16-stop game at Troy. Great in pass coverage, he's good at using his quickness to sniff out plays picking off four passes. The key is staying healthy – he's reckless with his body and comes up with huge shots.

3. RB Robert Lowe, Jr.
The thought was that the 5-10, 195-pounder would be a bit more of a workhorse type, but instead he became more dangerous on the way to all-star honors with 945 yards and nine scores averaging close to six yards per carry. Also dangerous as a receiver, he caught 19 passes for 166 yards, but he was at his best as a runner on the move. He carried it seven times for 103 yards and a score one week against Texas Tech, and the next he handled the rock 30 times for 138 yards and three scores. When he's in a groove, the coaching staff will go with him, but he's not built for 250 carries. If he can use his quickness and vision for 15 good carries a game in a rotation, he'll be more effective.

4. QB Tyler Jones, Soph.
A good runner, the 6-2, 197-pound Jones can do a little of everything for the offense. Now he has to start coming up with more big plays for the passing game. He took over starting seven games, throwing for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns with five picks, and he ran for 257 yards taking off when needed. He doesn't have a huge arm and he was inconsistent, but he had his moments, hitting 19-of-23 passes for 228 yards and two scores in the win over Idaho and completed 14-of-18 throws against Wyoming, but he failed to complete half of his passes in a two game stretch against ULM and Georgia State. As a high school senior he ran for 1,000 yards and 26 touchdowns while throwing for 43 scores. The potential to there to be a dangerous dual-threat star.

5. OT Adrian Bellard, Jr.
At 6-5 and 345 pounds, he's a huge tackle on the left side – or the strongside in the TXST offense – with good enough feet to get by and a road grader mentality when it comes to the running game. He didn't earn all-star honors, but they're coming this year if he can keep his weight in check. He'll fluctuate between 310 and 350, and while he could end up as a massive guard depending on where he's at, he's too good at tackle to move.

6. CB Craig Mager, Sr.
The long-time starter has been a mainstay in the secondary for the last three seasons, starting every game in his career. At 5-11 and 190 pounds he has decent size and is a strong open field tackler, making 40 solo stops among his 49 on the year. Solid when the ball was in the air, he led the team with nine broken up passes, but he didn't come up with a pick after coming up with four in 2012. Quick and tough, he'll handle the boundary side more often than not, but he can take on anyone's No. 1 target.

7. P Will Johnson, Sr.
Johnson tried his hand – or foot – as a placekicker with bad results. He has a great leg – enough of one to try out a 64-yard attempt and a 56-yarder, but he also missed from 27 yards away. Fortunately, his main job was as a punter, doing a great job averaging 44 yards per pop sticking 19 inside the two and forcing 14 fair catches. Now that he knows what he's doing, he should be an even bigger weapon bailing the team out of jams.

8. TE/WR Bradley Miller, Sr.
Ryan Carden is a big receiving tight end, and David Lewis is more of a blocker, but the 6-5, 229-pound Miller will do more. He took over the starting job late in the 2012 season, and he turned into the team's leading target last year in receiving yards catching 24 passes for 311 yards. However, he didn't get into the end zone. A matchup problem, he'll be used more like a big wide receiver.

9. PK Jason Dann, Sr.
The Bobcats needed an answer at kicker after Will Johnson whiffed on his first five tries. Dann took over and came up big nailing nine of his ten field goal tries including two 43-yarders and a 42-yard shot on the way to hitting his first nine before missing a 40-yarder against WKU. He doesn't have massive range, but he's proven from anywhere inside 45 yards.

10. DE Michael Odiari, Sr.
The 6-0, 245-pound end started out his career at West Texas A&M before making the jump over, and he turned into a nice pass rusher early on. While he's not an elite threat to get into the backfield, and he's built like a big linebacker, he's quick off the ball, he came up with 30 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss getting better as the season went on. He doesn't have to come up with ten sacks, but he needs to be a threat.

- 2014 Texas State Preview