Photo by Gerald Castillo
2018 Texas State Football Preview
Texas State enters 2018 looking to emerge from the doldrums of back-to-back 2-10 seasons.
Now in his third year at the helm, head coach Everett Withers comes into a key year in his tenure with the Bobcats. Withers has had two complete recruiting classes and the cupboard is stocked with more talent than he’s had in his first two seasons.
Texas State is ready to take a step forward this season. But the Bobcats will have to prove they're ready to better compete in the Sun Belt if they want to see an improved record in 2018.
Season At A Glance
1. Which Quarterback Emerges For The Bobcats?
Texas State has had its first true quarterback battle under Withers during training camp between sophomore quarterback Willie Jones III, redshirt freshman Jaylen Gipson and freshman quarterback Tyler Vitt.
Jones began camp as the first team quarterback, but he’s been pushed by his two fellow quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Zak Kuhr believed all three quarterbacks were squarely in the race midway through camp.
Jones, who’s the only quarterback on the roster to take a collegiate snap, is the likely candidate to start in the season opener against Rutgers. Jones’ passes looked clean and he commanded the offense well during the only scrimmage open to the public and the media.
If Jones is named the starter, they’ll need him to be a steady force because the Bobcats need consistency behind center if they want to be successful in 2018.
2. Will The Offense Take A Step Forward In 2018?
The Bobcat offense struggled to keep up with the competition in 2017. The running game struggled by only averaging 134.1 yards per game last season. That rushing average had Texas State ranked No. 101 out of 129 FBS teams.
The Bobcats’ passing game led by graduate transfer quarterback Damian Williams was slightly better than its running companion. Texas State averaged 205.7 yards per game, which had it ranked No. 82 in the country.
A large part of the Bobcats’ offensive problems was their offensive line. Texas State’s group was young, its rotation shuffled around and injuries never allowed true cohesiveness to develop for the unit.
This year, however, the Bobcats have three returning starters to the offensive line: juniors Aaron Brewer and Jacob Rowland, and sophomore Reece Jordan.
Alongside Texas State’s improvement along the offensive line, Texas State has more talent in the skill positions. Junior Anthony D. Taylor returns as the Bobcats’ leading rusher. Texas State has wide receivers Tyler Watts, Mason Hays and a host of younger players that can provide talent to an offense looking for improvement.
3. Will The Secondary Catch Up To The Front Seven?
Texas State’s front seven leads the way for the Bobcats.
Texas State’s rushing defense ranked in the top 40 in the country, limiting opponents to 141.7 yards per game in 2017.
The Bobcats’ passing defense, however, was among the nation’s worst. Texas State gave up 297.3 yards per game, which was No. 126 out of 129.
The Bobcats are confident that they’ve found players that can help improve their passing defense.
Texas State is set at safety with senior A.J. Krawczyk and junior JaShon Waddy. At cornerback, the Bobcats will rely upon junior Anthony J. Taylor and sophomore Kordell Rodgers.
If Texas State’s passing defense makes strides forward this year, the Bobcats will find more success.
2018 Texas State Bobcats
Head coach: Everett Withers (4-20 in two seasons at Texas State, 29-33 in five seasons)
2017 record: 2-10 (1-7 Sun Belt)
2017 offense: 339.8 yards per game (205.7 passing ypg; 134.1 rushing ypg) | 17.3 ppg
2017 defense: 438.9 yards per game (297.3 passing ypg; 141.7 rushing ypg) | 33.6 ppg
2018 Texas State Schedule
Sept. 1 at Rutgers, 11 a.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Texas Southern, 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 at South Alabama,* 6 p.m.
Sept. 22 at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Oct. 6 vs. Louisiana,* TBA
Oct. 11 vs. Georgia Southern,* 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Louisiana-Monroe,* TBA
Oct. 27 vs. New Mexico State, TBA
Nov. 3 at Georgia State,* TBA
Nov. 10 vs. Appalachian State,* TBA
Nov. 17 at Troy,* TBA
Nov. 24 vs. Arkansas State,* TBA
*Denotes Sun Belt game
10 Bobcats To Watch in 2018
Bryan London II
Linebacker // Junior // 6-foot-2, 232 Pounds
2017 Stats: 91 total tackles, three tackles for loss, five pass breakups, five passes defended, two forced fumbles
Notable: London is Texas State’s leader on defense. He led the Bobcat defense in tackles last season. He’s started 24 games during his time in San Marcos. He enters the year as a preseason All-Sun Belt second team selection.
Defensive End // Redshirt Junior // 6-foot-2, 260 Pounds
2017 Stats: 19 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery
Notable: Davis returns to the Bobcats have suffering a season-ending injury in 2017. The Killeen native is expected to have a bounce back year after last season’s misfortune.
Linebacker // Senior // 6-foot, 205 Pounds
2017 Stats: 74 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three pass breakups, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries
Notable: Griffin is highly-touted by defensive coordinator Chris Woods. He has a high ceiling that hasn’t been reached yet. If he takes a leap forward in 2018 then Texas State’s linebacking corps could be one of the best in the Sun Belt.
Willie Jones III
Quarterback // Sophomore // 6-foot-3, 190 Pounds
2017 Stats: 18-for-37, 281 passing yards, 168 rushing yards, one interception
Notable: Jones is expected to win the starting quarterback job. He’s the lone signal-caller on the team that’s taken a collegiate snap. He possesses good speed that allows him to make off-schedule plays. His arm has shown improvement during training camp.
Anthony D. Taylor
Running Back // Junior // 5-foot-10, 205 Pounds
2017 Stats: 436 yards and two touchdowns on 108 carries; 158 yards and three touchdowns on 15 receptions
Notable: Taylor led Texas State’s running game last year. Behind a more experienced offensive line, Taylor should see his numbers increase. He’s a bulky running back, which makes him difficult to tackle.
Offensive Lineman // Junior // 6-foot-3, 270 Pounds
2017 Stats: 68 knockdowns
Notable: Brewer has played every position on the offensive line during his career at Texas State. He led the team in knockdowns last season. Brewer is the offensive line’s leader with the most experience. He enters his junior campaign as a preseason All-Sun Belt second team pick.
Wide Receiver // Senior // 5-foot-8, 163 Pounds
2017 Stats: 332 yards and two touchdowns on 40 receptions; 138 yards and one touchdown on five carries
Notable: Watts returns to the receiving corps as last year’s second-leading receiver. He has good speed that makes him a threat as a slot receiver. The Bobcats will rely on him to make big plays for them in 2018.
Safety // Senior // 5-foot-11, 195 Pounds
2017 Stats: 74 total tackles, two forced fumbles, one pass breakup, one pass defended, one quarterback hurry, one interception
Notable: Krawczyk, a former walk-on, has been consistent at safety for the Bobcats. He was tied for the third-leading tackler last year. He’ll play an important role in helping the secondary improve this season.
Safety // Junior // 5-foot-11, 180 Pounds
2017 Stats: 55 total tackles, five pass breakups, five passes defended, one tackle for loss
Notable: Waddy moves to safety after playing cornerback during his career at Texas State. Waddy is expected to be an important member of the secondary with his position move. The Bobcats will need Waddy to make a smooth transition to safety.
Nose Tackle // Junior // 6-foot-5, 290 Pounds
2017 Stats: 17 total tackles, one tackle for loss, 0.5 sack, one quarterback hurry
Notable: Taylor brings true size to the nose tackle spot. Taylor is expected to increase his production after moving from defensive end to the starting nose tackle role.
Newcomers to Watch in 2018
Wide Receiver // Freshman // 6-foot-2, 170 Pounds
Banks has shown flashes during training camp and could be in the two-deep depth chart during the first week of the season. His height and speed make him a solid outside threat for the Bobcats. Banks comes to San Marcos as an unrated recruit according to 247Sports.com. Although he entered camp with less accolades than his fellow freshmen, Banks was already rolling with the second team during Texas State's first scrimmage. He could be a surprise player for the Bobcats.
Tight End // Graduate Senior // 6-foot-3, 250 Pounds
Brown transferred to Texas State from Oklahoma State. Brown will likely play a big role for the Bobcats. Texas State needed someone to fill the void left by departing senior tight end Gabe Schrade. Brown should fit nicely with the Bobcats. During his final season with Oklahoma State, he only recorded four receptions for 56 yards. Before arriving in Stillwater, Okla., he was rated a four-star wide receiver by 247Sports.com. Although his stats were low in 2017, a fresh start for Brown in San Marcos could be good for him.
Wide Receiver // Freshman // 5-foot-7, 155 Pounds
Sheread could add another threat as a slot receiver. Sheread made plays during Texas State’s first scrimmage. Tyler Watts will be in front of him at the slot, however, that doesn’t mean Sheread won’t get a chance to show off his ability this season. Sheread was ranked a two-star recruit by 247Sports.com. He’ll be a young wide receiver to watch in 2018.
Quarterback // Freshman // 6-foot-2, 205 Pounds
Vitt is one of the most talked about players in the 2018 recruiting class. Vitt comes to San Marcos as a three-star recruit. He threw for 2,490 yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior season with San Antonio MacArthur. Although he might not be named the starter, Vitt could see playing time with the NCAA’s new redshirt rule that allows players to play in four games without losing their redshirt. Vitt has competed well in the quarterback competition and could play a role for the Bobcats in 2018.
2018 Game Predictions
Sept. 1 at Rutgers
Last Meeting: First Meeting
Breakdown: Texas State travels to Piscataway, N.J. for its first ever game against Rutgers to open the season. Texas State will be in this game, but Rutgers will do enough to escape with a win.
Prediction: Rutgers 28, Texas State 24
Sept 8 vs. Texas Southern
Last Meeting: Texas State 52, Texas Southern 18, on Sept. 26, 2009
Breakdown: Texas Southern hasn’t had a winning season in 17 years. The Bobcats won’t have much trouble getting around the Tigers.
Prediction: Texas State 49, Texas Southern 13
Sept. 15 at South Alabama
Last Meeting: Texas State 36, South Alabama 18, on Oct. 24, 2015
Breakdown: The Bobcats haven’t met the Jaguars since 2015. The Jaguars had a rough year in 2017, going 4-8. South Alabama has a new head coach: Steve Campbell. Texas State catches a break and gets South Alabama early into the Campbell era.
Prediction: Texas State 28, South Alabama 24
Sept. 22 at UTSA
Last Meeting: UTSA 44, Texas State 14, on Sept. 23, 2017
Breakdown: The Roadrunners routed Texas State last season at Bobcat Stadium. The 2018 meeting will be a much closer affair at the Alamodome.
Prediction: UTSA 31, Texas State 27
Oct. 6 vs. Louisiana
Last Meeting: Louisiana 24, Texas State 7, on Oct. 12, 2017
Breakdown: Since joining the conference in 2013, the Bobcats have lost all five matchups against Louisiana. The Bobcats will break the bad streak in 2018.
Prediction: Texas State 34, Louisiana 24
Oct. 11 vs. Georgia Southern
Last Meeting: Georgia Southern 37, Texas State 13, on Oct. 29, 2015
Breakdown: This year, the Eagles are headed back to their more traditional triple-option roots. This plays right into Texas State’s strength in stopping the run.
Prediction: Texas State 27, Georgia Southern 17
Oct. 20 at ULM
Last Meeting: ULM 45, Texas State 27, on Oct. 7, 2017
Breakdown: The Warhawks put up points and yards last year consistently. With ULM getting Texas State at home this season, the Warhawks will get the better of the Bobcats in 2018.
Prediction: ULM 42, Texas State 31
Oct. 27 vs. New Mexico State
Last Meeting: New Mexico State 45, Texas State 35, on Nov. 4, 2017
Breakdown: New Mexico State pulled away from the Bobcats in 2017. New Mexico State lost its starting quarterback Tyler Rogers and running back Larry Rose III. Texas State gets the best of the Aggies.
Prediction: Texas State 35, New Mexico State 24
Nov. 3 at Georgia State
Last Meeting: Georgia State 33, Texas State 30, on Nov. 11, 2017
Breakdown: The Panthers are expected to regress in 2017. Georgia State has to replace starting quarterback Connor Manning. But the Panthers have one of the best wide receivers in the Sun Belt in Penny Hart. Georgia State gets past the Bobcats at home.
Prediction: Georgia State 38, Texas State 34
Nov. 10 vs. App State
Last Meeting: Appalachian State 20, Texas State 13, on Sept. 16, 2017
Breakdown: The Bobcats caught a break playing the Mountaineers early in the season last year. App State found its rhythm as the season progressed. Texas State won’t catch that break this year, and have to face the Mountaineers on the road.
Prediction: App State 35, Texas State 27
Nov. 17 at Troy
Last Meeting: Troy 62, Texas State 9, on Nov. 24, 2017
Breakdown: Troy handed the Bobcats a rough end to the season last year. Texas State will give a better fight than it did last year, but Troy’s fire power will be too much for the Bobcats.
Prediction: Troy 45, Texas State 31
Nov. 24 vs. Arkansas State
Last Meeting: Arkansas State 30, Texas State 12
Breakdown: Arkansas State took down the Bobcats in Jonesboro, Ark. last year. The Bobcats will be in a much tighter contest this season, but the Red Wolves will do enough to pull away from Texas State.
Prediction: Arkansas State 34, Texas State 24
Best-Case/Worst Case Scenarios
Texas State shows improvement with four to five wins this season. But the best-case scenario involves the Bobcats taking a big leap in 2018 with six wins. A six-win season would mean the Bobcats stay healthy throughout the year, they win on the road, and they pick up a signature win in the Sun Belt over either Appalachian State, Troy or Arkansas State.
If a four-five win season shows improvement then the worst-case scenario involves no improvement at all. Texas State goes 2-10 for the third year in a row, putting Withers on the hot seat heading into 2019.
Texas State finally escapes the disappointment of two 2-10 seasons. The Bobcats take a step forward and have their best season under Withers. Texas State finishes the year with a 5-7 record setting up higher expectations for 2019.