Tough task awaits Bobcat defense

Photo by Gerald Castillo

Texas State Football

Texas State’s defensive goal going into a game is simple.

The Bobcats (2-6, 1-3 Sun Belt) aim to make their opponent one dimensional, which usually means they’re aiming to halt the running game. Texas State is pretty good at doing it too as it only gives up 129 rushing yards per game, which ranks No. 31 in the country and No. 2 in the Sun Belt. 

But what happens when the opponent is already one dimensional with emphasis on its passing game? The Bobcats will find out when they take on New Mexico State (3-5, 1-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m. inside Bobcat Stadium. The Aggies possess the No. 7 ranked passing attack in the nation with redshirt senior quarterback Tyler Rogers leading the way with 2,716 yards and 20 touchdowns. 

Defensive coordinator Randall McCray agreed when asked if this week would be the toughest test for his secondary. 

“We’re still trying to grow kids back (in the secondary) and still trying to get a little bit better,” McCray said following Wednesday’s practice. “But they’ve all got to grow up fast and in a hurry, and that’s got to happen this week.”

Head coach Everett Withers said minimizing gains on short passes will be important if the Bobcats want to contain the Aggies. 

“They’re going to complete passes and that’s what you have to understand,” Withers said at his weekly Monday press conference. “You’re not going to make them go 2 for 50. He’s going to complete some balls. Now it’s tackling the short passing game and getting off the field. They make plays because guys miss tackles and turn four-yard gains (into) 24-yard gains. So, we got to limit that.”

Senior linebacker Gabe Loyd said New Mexico State forces defenses to stay on their toes throughout games.

“I know they still have the same running back, which he’s a tremendous running back in Larry Rose and then their quarterback, he’s dynamic, he can throw on the run. He’s a great quarterback,” Loyd said. “Those are two things I do know. Pretty tremendous offense.”

Offensively, Texas State looks to build off its successful performance against Coastal Carolina, where the Bobcats ran for 238 yards and one touchdown, and passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns. 

“Anytime that you start having success in anything you do, it reinforces the process - kind of the methods that we’re using,” offensive coordinator Parker Fleming said. “And it was good to see the guys go out and play with high levels of efficiency, effort, toughness, all the things that we preach and we try to get them to do, they played with and it was good to see.”

But Fleming knows the Aggie defense will provide a tough challenge even if they give up 391.8 yards per game. 

“On defense, they’re really good, they’re really talented,” Fleming said. “They’ve got a really good front seven, and what they do is they fly around to the football and they cancel gaps. They’ll do a lot of things that frustrate your run game and your protection schemes, and so that’s something. They’re going to come in and play tough and physical. We have to be prepared for matching that toughness, and intensity, and physicality, or else they’ll create a long day for you with all the little things that they do.” 

Texas State knows it’ll have to keep up with New Mexico State’s high-flying passing game, but the Bobcats also want to stay focused on what they want to accomplish against the Aggies. 

“What we’re really going to do is just go play our game,” Fleming said. “If we worry what they’re going to do, if they have the football later that’s going to put us in a bad spot, so we don’t talk about it a lot. They might have an idea, but really, we don’t focus on that. We’re going to keep our stride going and just do what we do.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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