Photo by Gerald Castillo
Countdown to Kickoff: Texas State welcomes back Incarnate Word
The 2020 season was the first in which Texas State didn’t face an FCS opponent since moving up to the FBS level in 2012.
The Bobcats are 8-0 against schools from their former subdivision during that span of time. They’ll return to playing against FCS opponents this year when they take on Incarnate Word.
The Cardinals last took on the maroon and gold in 2016, falling in San Marcos, 48-17. UIW was ranked No. 25 in the FCS in the 2020 preseason and rose to No. 13 after opening the spring with three wins, including two over ranked opponents. But the team fell out of the rankings after closing out the year with three straight losses, including its season finale against national champion Sam Houston State.
UIW had the No. 3 scoring offense in the country in 2020, averaging 42.0 points per game, thanks in large part to the addition of Southland Conference Freshman of the Year Cameron Ward. The quarterback completed 183 of his 303 passing attempts, throwing for 2,260 yards, 24 touchdowns and four interceptions. The scores were split up among 10 different receivers, and junior wideouts Robert Ferrel, Tre Wolf and Darion Chafin each averaged at least 60 receiving yards per game.
The offense is also kept balanced by the run game as All-Southland First Team running back Kevin Brown ran for 775 yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries (10.5-yard average). Junior Caleb Johnson and freshmen Reid Francis and Nash Jones were each all-conference selections on the offensive line as well.
The Cardinals’ defense remains a major work in progress, though, after allowing 533.0 yards per game, third-most in the FCS. Junior linebacker Kelechi Anyalebechi led the team with 42 tackles on the year and was named to the All-Southland First Team. Redshirt freshman linebacker Isaiah Paul followed with 38, including 4.5 for a loss. Junior defensive end Chance Main was the biggest producer on the defensive line, registering 4.0 sacks and forcing a fumble. And sophomore safety Shawn Holton was named to the all-conference second team after breaking up seven passes.
Texas State will host UIW inside Bobcat Stadium on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. Bill Connelly of ESPN’s SP+ projections give the Bobcats an 86% win probability, making the Cardinals a “likely win” for the maroon and gold.