Talking offense with Zak Kuhr

Texas State Football

No one needs to tell offensive line coach Eric Mateos the numbers from last season, he knows.

He knows that the offensive line he inherited couldn’t generate a forward-push for much of the season and were the primary reason behind one of the worst rushing attacks in college football.

Even though Mateos isn’t particularly a numbers guy, he doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the fact that Texas State ran for less than 1,000 yards, averaged just over two yards per-carry and gave up 40 sacks. He hopes to change that. Coming from LSU and Arkansas, where running productive run games are second-nature, it’s in his coaching DNA to make things better.

“That’s not the standard that I’m accustomed to where I’ve been and where I’ve coached,” Mateos said. “They know that and they understand the expectations that, that’s not even in our thought process. We know we’ve got to clean up the run game and so much of that is assignment-based and being smarter football players. That is the emphasis.”

In addition to Mateos, new co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Zak Kuhr was also hired by head coach Everett Withers to bring back the dominant run-game the pair had at James Madison years ago.

From his brief stint at Rutgers, Kuhr said he brought over some things for the offense so it won’t be a Xerox copy of the scheme ran last year under Brett Elliott, but similar. One thing he did hint at was a running back-by-committee approach.

“There’s nothing worse for a defense than (when) you tempo them down, they’re tired and the next thing you know a fresh-legged running back comes in,” Kuhr said. “He gets more explosive so yeah these guys know they’re going to share reps and they’re excited about it. They love each other so there’s no issues with that.”

Looking at film from last season, Kuhr said the most common mistake he saw from the running back position was eye discipline: Locating the right hole, hitting the right gaps, etc. When it comes to the depth chart, nothing drastic has changed since spring. Kuhr says both Robert Brown Jr. and Anthony D. Taylor are still the leaders, but he called freshman Anthony Smith a naturally smooth runner with a “very high ceiling.”

Of course, there’s still the ever-looming question of, who steps behind center if Damian Williams is a no-go for the season? In addition to quarterbacks coach and co-coordinator Parker Flemming, Kuhr has been examining his true freshman options.

“Everyone on the team really enjoys them,” Kuhr said. “They want to be good, they’re trying hard and stuff’s moving fast for them. But we’re trying to slow it down for them, but they all have a lot of potential.”

Senior receiver Tyler Watts echoed the same sentiment.

“They are very, very talented I love Willie (Jones III), I love both (Jaylin Nelson and Jaylen Gipson), I love Kishawn (Kelley), I love them all,” Watts said. “They’re doing really well, they’re still learning the offense like I said, but they’re coming along. They just have some natural talent which is a plus for us, we need that.”

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