Once again, the Texas State football teams’ defense was exposed.
It was a matter of being outclassed against Florida State. Against Prairie View A&M, the Texas State defense clamped down on the running game but allowed 323 passing yards to a FCS level team.
The 56-50 loss to Southern Mississippi was a manifestation of both. The Bobcats were picked apart through the air, in the running game and everything in between.
Southern Mississippi tallied 613 total yards – 333 passing and 280 rushing.
“We are going to have to go back to the drawing board and analyze and see what we can do to find a way to make some stops,” said Coach Dennis Franchione.
Missed tackles allowed Southern Mississippi to turn short-yardage plays into long gains. The Eagles finished the first quarter with a 21-3 cushion, with three touchdowns on their first three possessions.
“Two good offenses out there tonight, I had a feeling this game would go like this,” Franchione said. “Both offenses were efficient. Both sides made plays.”
A 22-7 second quarter happened to be one of the few positive stretches for the defense. Southern Mississippi had four drives following a touchdowns.
The drive summary: punt, punt, turnover, turnover on downs.
“John may have done a few things, but I don’t think It wasn’t anything big,” Franchione said. “We just had a little better feel and flow. He may have gotten more aggressive on a few calls.”
The defenses’ woes were no more apparent than on Southern Mississippi’s last touchdown of the game.
Jalen Richard, Golden Eagles senior running back, found a running angle and ran nearly untouched for a 64-yard touchdown with 6:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Texas State’s defense seemed to be confused on the play.
“I don’t know if our guys thought he was down or the whistle blew,” Franchione said. “A couple (players) stopped. I don’t know what happened for sure.”
Franchione attributed part of the Golden Eagles running success to the team’s inability to escape from blocks and defending individual gaps.
Four of Southern Mississippi’s touchdowns were longer than 20 yards, with three occurring in the final 17 minutes of the game.
Richard exceeded 100 yards for the first time in his career, finishing with 233 yards and four touchdowns.
Nick Mullen, Golden Eagles junior quarterback, added 333 passing yards and four touchdowns. Casey Martin, Golden Eagles senior wide receiver, led the team with 114 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Across the board, it didn’t matter which Golden Eagles player touched the ball. Texas State’s defense was unable to stop anyone with a pulse.
“We’ll spend tomorrow and Monday evaluating all that,” Franchione said. “We’ll do a lot of thinking. We got beat up a bit tonight. We’ll see how it all fits together and see what we can do to put our guys in a position to play better.”
The opportunistic Bobcats defense did recover a fumble, but it was the recovery that got away which may have swung the pendulum in the Golden Eagles’ favor.
A whistle eliminated an opportunity for the defense to score points themselves. Instead, Southern Mississippi continued its drive to eventually score a touchdown.
The Golden Eagles weren’t much better defensively, by any stretch. They just happened to make a couple more defensive stops to hand the reins to their prolific offense.
“We needed a stop and we didn’t get it,” Franchione said. “They made just a few more defensive plays than we did.”
When asked if watching the defense allow Southern Mississippi to drive the ball consistently, Franchione could only agree.
“It was,” Franchione said.
With Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette looming on the schedule, there isn’t a lot of time to for Franchione to turn the defense around.