Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats display new era in Maroon & Gold Spring Game
Mason Hays rose above Jarron Morris and snagged the ball out of the air.
The senior wide receiver came down with the ball and sprinted down the field before being caught at the four-yard line.
It was just the kind of eye-popping play Texas State head coach Jake Spavital wanted to see from the Bobcats during Saturday’s Maroon & Gold Spring Game.
“It may have been a sack, (the defense) was arguing for that but it was a good deal for us to just see a play happen downfield,” Spavital said. “(Quarterback Gresch Jensen) ended up throwing it up. It was kind of one of those situations where we needed to get the first down to move the chains and it ended up being a big play. I did enjoy seeing Mason make that play in kind of a crucial time because that’s kind of a difficult jump ball.”
Texas State entered Saturday’s scrimmage knowing there would be no score kept as the offense battled against the defense.
But that didn’t stop the maroon and gold faithful from turning out in droves. A couple thousand fans showed up to Bobcat Stadium for a lively tailgate scene outside, an alumni flag football game and a party in the Gowens Family Pavilion, featuring free food and live music.
On the field, the crowd was treated to competitive scrimmage. They cheered as Hays came down with his acrobatic grab and again when lefty quarterback Chase Hildreath scrambled to his right and tossed a deep ball that sophomore wide receiver Shane Carney came down within the defense’s territory.
Overall, Spavital was pleased with his team’s performance Saturday.
“It was kind of where I wanted to end on," Spavital said. "I wanted to be healthy when we got out of this spring game that’s the first and foremost thing that you want is to be healthy. But I wanted to be highly competitive, where both sides of the ball left the field where they were feeling good about themselves, and I think that was the goal that was accomplished today.”
Junior quarterback Gresch Jensen, who transferred to Texas State from Fullerton Community College, got the most work behind center. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, including the 72-yarder to Hays.
Sophomore signal callers Tyler Vitt and Jaylen Gipson both got considerable work. Vitt completed six passes for 32 yards, while Gipson threw for 69 yards and a touchdown on seven completions.
Spavital was most impressed with his running backs during the spring game. Senior running back Anthony D. Taylor rushed for 71 yards on nine carries. Junior Jaylin Nelson tallied 38 yards on nine rushes and redshirt freshman Alec Harris added 36 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively, Spavital didn’t need to see much as he pulled some of his starters to allow others to get much-needed reps.
The Bobcat head coach said things were pretty even between the offense and defense.
“To accomplish what we want as a team, we wanted to make it pretty balanced in having some competitive stuff out there, where we can the evaluations needed as a coaching staff,” Spavital said. “I know it’s not what everybody wanted at times but I thought from my perspective, it’s exactly what we needed.”
After a competitive spring game, senior linebacker Bryan London said he felt pretty good about the Bobcats’ performance.
“As a team, we were just able to stay healthy,” London said. “Defense, we were able to make plays for the most part. On offense, they showed life, which is always good. Granted, we’re practicing, we’re only going against each other, not able to hit other guys, it’s good to see both sides do good because it takes both of us to win games. I like to see the healthy competition.”
With spring ball completed, Spavital stressed the importance of the summer as Texas State looks ahead toward August’s training camp.
“What we have to do better as a team is build continuity that’s where championships are one,” Spavital said. “When you get into summer there are things that these kids got to do on their own ... But on top of that this is where the weight workouts are the most brutal of the year and these kids go through a lot and we got a good strength program, where we’re going to challenge them and they’re going to get bigger, faster and stronger.”