The Bobcats are on the brink of a three-game winning streak and becoming bowl eligible for the first time in school history as they prepare to take on Idaho this weekend.
Texas State defeated Idaho for its first Western Athletic Conference victory last season, 38–7. As the team gears up for games, Coach Dennis Franchione and the Bobcat offense discuss situational busts each Sunday.
The team practices these scenarios in which the opposing defense diagnoses an initial play call, causing the quarterback to improvise and analyze a new plan of action during games. With repetition in preparing for the worst-case scenario, freshman quarterback Tyler Jones encountered a 4th and 24 situation last week and adjusted to the defense.
The Jaguar defense read the initial target to junior tight end Bradley Miller, causing Jones to scramble out of the pocket. Jones completed a 51-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ben Ijah for a first down. Jones’ pass lead to the ensuing last-minute field goal for the Bobcats’ fifth win of the season.
“We called a double post route,” Franchione said. “The key was Tyler moving around in the pocket and bought some time. Coverage starts to break down, and he makes a great throw. (Jones) finds Ben (Ijah) for a strike.”
The development of Jones as a quarterback continues to help the offense that relied so heavily on the ground game earlier in the season. Jones threw for a career-high 218 yards against South Alabama, despite Texas State being ranked last in conference play in pass offense with 139.8 yards per game.
Sophomore running backs Robert Lowe and Chris Nutall both ran for 75 yards or more against South Alabama for the second straight week. Jones rushed a season-high 23 times for 68 yards.
“Like the coaches said, we’re just going to do whatever works,” Jones said. “Last week it was working to run the ball, so we ran it. This week it was working to mix it up, so we mixed it up.”
Headlining the special teams matchup will be junior kicker Jason Dann, who won Special Teams Player of the Week for the Sun Belt after his performance against South Alabama. Dann, for the first time in his career, attempted a game-winning kick from 41 yards out to give the Bobcats a 33–31 win over the Jaguars. Dann tied a school record with four field goals in the second half. The junior kicker is now 8-for-8 on the season.
“That’s the stuff you go to bed at night and dream about,” Dann said. “Just to have the chance to do that was amazing. A couple of teammates said that was the most excited they had ever seen me, and I’d have to agree with them.”
Last year against Idaho, senior wide receiver/punt returner Andy Erickson returned five punts for 76 yards. Erickson caught three passes for 48 yards and had a touchdown in the game last year.
Texas State has accumulated 192 yards for punt returns and is currently ranked number one in conference play averaging 12 yards per return this season. Junior punter Will Johnson leads the Sun Belt with an average 46.2 yards per punt.
“That was win number five. Teams are defined in October and November. A month from now we will be playing Troy the day after Thanksgiving,” Franchione said. “We will be defined in the next month. We have three road games left. It’s taken us three years to get (the) guys to this point—it’s what do we make of it now?”