Photo by Lance Winter
Texas State looking for the little things in final bye week
A group of 20 or so Bobcats encircled senior running back LeDarrius Harris and strength and conditioning coach Scott Salwasser near the west sideline of Jim Wacker field after Thursday morning’s practice.
Harris and his teammates took off their helmets and began jogging in place. Salwasser blew his whistle and each player dropped to the ground for an up-down, then sprung back up and shouted “One!” Salwasser sounded off again. “Two!”
“They forgot to tape up this morning,” head coach Jake Spavital said. “It kind of shows you where we’re at right now.”
Spavital stresses the little things, the attention to detail. When Texas State executes them, the team succeeds. When it ignores them, the team falters.
That was the case when the maroon and gold hosted Louisiana-Monroe inside Bobcat Stadium last Thursday. Spavital counted 11 bad snaps and six drops by the offense, leading to a 24-14 win for the Warhawks. It was also the case on Sept. 21, when the Bobcats narrowly edged out Georgia State at home in triple overtime, 37-34 — the first game of the season without a turnover.
“If you can't execute and put the ball in play and do certain things, it's going to turn out to be a very long night for your guys,” Spavital said. “You can't play dumb football and expect great results. We're not to that point yet where we can just roll the ball out there and do undisciplined football. So, that's kind of where we're at with it.”
Midway through the season, Texas State is 2-4 overall, with a 1-1 record in Sun Belt play. The head coach believes his team was outmatched by “really good teams” in too many ways in two of the losses — Texas A&M and SMU.
The other four games came down to two to five plays. When the Bobcats connected on them, they won. When they didn’t they lost. Spavital is spending the second and final bye week of the year to make sure they win those plays more often.
“I think that's how every game moving forward is going to be,” Spavital said. “It's going to be close, it's going to be about who is going to play with more effort, more emotion and who's not going to do dumb things. And I think the kids are responding well to it right now.”
Salwasser whistled for another 48 up-downs for a grand total of 50. The players’ chants grew fainter each rep. Some couldn’t keep pace, failing to stand back up before the whistle was blown again.
Harris wasn’t one of them. The senior was the loudest among the group and the first back on his feet each time. He never slowed, keeping the same rhythm throughout the punishment.
After the 50th rep, Harris and several other players stopped jogging in place and reached for their helmet. Salwasser stared Harris down. The coach never said to stop. Harris and the others realized their fault and began pumping their legs again. Salwasser blew his whistle one more time, then sent the players back into the End Zone Complex after the final up-down.
The Bobcats will head to Jonesboro, Arkansas to face Arkansas State () on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. Effort might not be a problem for Texas State in the second half of the season. But to win more than two of the next six games, the team has to cut down on its mistakes.
“I think these kids should be pretty motivated to come out versus Arkansas State,” Spavital said. “There are some guys that are playing lights out, there are some that are just kind of going through the motions. And we need all 11 to be doing (the former). So it's really coming down to the culture that we're trying to create moving forward for the seasons to come of, when you come to play a Texas State team, they're going to be highly motivated and play with great effort.”