The Texas State football team opened the season with a 65-point victory against the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, a dominating victory where the Bobcats scored on the team’s first eight possessions of the game.
The Bobcats set a school record with 697 total yards. Tyler Jones, sophomore quarterback, recorded career-highs in passing yards and total touchdowns. Jones’ adjusted total quarterback rating, 95.0, placed him second in Division I.
There were just a few hiccups in the victory. Jones was sacked twice, in instances Coach Dennis Franchione deemed Jones’ fault, and Connor White, freshman quarterback, fumbled the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Otherwise, you couldn’t script a better opening season game. Jones called the win a “statement.”
The Golden Lions punted eight times in the game, while the Bobcats scored nine total touchdowns. There was a tangible difference in talent. Texas State squashed any chance of an upset when the team scored 14 points in their first two possessions, totaling four minutes. The final three quarters were merely a formality. The Golden Lions didn’t have the bite to support their pregame bark.
The real season starts Sept. 13 against Navy.
Navy led at halftime against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a team with national championship aspirations prior to the season-ending injury of Braxton Miller, senior quarterback. The Buckeyes, following the victory, are ranked eighth in this week’s Associated Press Poll.
Navy rushed for 370 yards on 63 carries in the 34-17 loss to Ohio State. They succeeded with a tactically simple game, utilizing the run on 94 percent of their plays. The Navy offense gashed a defense that allowed the 13th-fewest rushing yards last year, with a bruising rushing scheme that pushes the defense to its physical limits.
Franchione called Navy one of the three best offensive teams they’ll face this season and the hardest-working on the schedule. Franchione, in his video analysis, says the defense consistently beats the offense to the point of attack.
This is a legitimate test for the Bobcats in their second game. The team scheduled a bye week specifically to prepare for Navy. The preparation didn’t start this week, either. The Bobcats have worked on defending cut blocks, a Navy specialty, since last month to compensate for a team that beats you up on both sides of the ball.
Coaches will stress discipline defensively. One little misstep and Keenan Reynolds, junior quarterback, will capitalize. Reynolds attempted four passes last week, but he still facilitated Navy’s rushing attack by remaining an offensive threat.
Texas State didn’t win in their previous matchup against Navy in 2012. In the 21-10 loss, Navy rushed for 407 yards. The scoring does not reflect the gap in talent at the time. Texas State was an FBS school then, but they certainly didn’t have the depth or talent to succeed in an up-tempo offense.
This year’s team is different. They are more equipped to compete at the Division I level. Having several running backs that Franchione trusts allows the team to keep a fresh running back and the offensive efficiency intact. The Bobcats will also play at home in this matchup, and that could make a significant difference.
There are still 10 games left on the schedule following Navy, but how the Bobcats fare against Navy, a legitimate opponent, could decide the fate of their season.