Preview 2017: Can Texas State Sneak Up On Everyone?
With no expectations, Texas State could be a dangerous team out of the Sun Belt.
Can Texas State take advantage of having no expectations?
Everyone will put the program at or near the bottom of the preseason rankings, and no one will be thinking about anything more than a few wins, much less a winning campaign.
But there’s experience, there’s a good coaching staff in place, and there’s no pressure for now. So go ahead and shock everyone, Bobcats.
It’s hard to call a team the worst in college football when it comes up with two wins, but Texas State made its case by the end of last year. Now it’s up to head coach Everett Withers to do something with what he has in place to start doing more.
The shocking overtime thriller on the road over the eventual MAC East champ, Ohio, was a fun way to start the season, and the win over Incarnate Word was easy, but the Bobcats got worse over the second half of the season. And that’s the concern.
Instead of finding things to build on, and instead of the first-year coaching staff coming up with a few ideas to change things up, the team had a nightmare of a time even being competitive.
How bad was it? TXST lost each of its last six games by double-digits, dropping the six by a combined score of 235 to 58 – or an average of 39 to 10.
Withers hasn’t been shy about saying the program needs more talent, but this year’s team has far more experience to at least hope for a wee bit of an improvement.
Mississippi State transfer Damian Williams should help the quarterback situation, three decent receivers are back, there are veterans in the backfield, and the O line – as woeful as it was – should be a bit better in the interior.
But now the worst rushing game in college football has to improve, and there has to be some semblance of explosion in the passing game. The Bobcats have to score, and they need an offensive identity to build around.
The defense that didn’t get any help from the offense – and vice versa – needs a pass rush after generating a pathetic nine sacks. But Bryan London is just on the verge of being among the best Group of Five linebackers in college football, and there’s hope on the ends with a deep group back.
There’s no reliable size up front, and the secondary is all but starting over, but the Bobcats aren’t going to be any worse after allowing 471 yards and 41 points per game.
Withers knows how to win – he took a 2011 North Carolina team to a bowl game, and went to the FCS playoffs for two straight seasons at James Madison before taking on the gig in San Marcos – but it’s going to be a process. It’s going to take a little time, but this is the year when Withers and his staff need to start showing what Texas State football is going to be.
It can’t be what it was last year.