Spavital Hopes To Revive Texas State
(This is the eighth in a series previewing the 2019 opponents of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Today: Texas State. The Bobcats are the Cajuns' Homecoming opponent on Saturday, November 2nd. Information from Phil Steele's College Football Preview contributed to this report.)
In their years in the Sun Belt, Texas State has been somewhat of an enigma.
They've got very good facilities across the board. They have a large student enrollment, their budget is competitive in the Sun Belt, and they are in a fertile recruiting ground.
But they've languished since joining the Sun Belt, especially in football.
Last year the Bobcats made strides on defense in the second half of the season, holding four of their opponents to 20 points or less after giving up a season high 42 to Louisiana. But the offense was moribund, scoring just seven points in each of the final three games.
Enter Jake Spavital.
The former West Virginia offensive coordinator inherits a team that had only eight seniors a year ago. There are experienced players to work with. While not all of last years starters will be starting under the new regime, Texas State has nine starters returning. Spavital has not officially named a starting quarterback, but it appears Tyler Vitt has held off JUCO transfer Gresch Jensen. Vitt threw for 1159 yards as a part time starter a year ago in his true freshman season. The running game faltered a year ago, but the Bobcats will have more experience, not only in the backfield, but up front as all five starting offensive linemen return. Texas State loses all-league tight end Keenan Brown, but five of their top seven receivers are back.
There's plenty to like on the defensive side of the football. with ten starters back from last year's unit. The strength of the team is at linebacker where Bryan London is a defensive POY candidate. Frankie Griffin and Nicolas Daniels were among the team leaders in tackles last year. Only one team threw for more than 300 yards against Texas State and the entire secondary is back.
Texas State's special teams were among the worst in the country last year, but punt returner Hutch White was a bright spot, averaging ten yards per return. The Bobcats need a lot of work in this department.
SCHEDULE: Texas State opens on Thursday, August 29 against Texas A&M. They also travel to SMU, while getting Wyoming and Nicholls at home. None of those are guaranteed wins, including Tim Rebowe's club. Most of Texas State's winnable league games are at home, hosting both Georgia State and South Alabama. Troy and ULM are also on the home slate. Texas State travels to Coastal Carolina, but has to play at Arkansas State and Louisiana on consecutive weeks. And, they've got a late season trip to Appalachian State (11/23). The Bobcats do not play Georgia Southern.
OUTLOOK: Texas State was just 3-9 last year, but lost four games, including Georgia Southern and Troy, by six points or less. Spavital has something to work with here. Their defense is going to keep them in most of the games they play and with a couple of breaks, this is a team that might actually flirt with bowl eligibility. There are still a ton of question marks, especially with personnel on offense. The Bobcats aren't ready to contend yet, but they may be close to shedding that enigma tag.