Stephen F. Austin (1-2) will be making its first trip to Texas State (1-1) Saturday evening since the Bobcats made the move to the FBS.
“We are ready to play SFA now,” senior safety Jason McLean said. “We already got the taste of Texas Tech out of our mouth last week. We have already forgotten about that game. We got to take it one game at a time now.”
Texas State has dominated the series recently. The Bobcats have won five consecutive meetings, including their 35-26 win in Nacogdoches in 2011.
“Texas State is every bit as talented as any team we’ve played this season, if not better,” SFA Coach J.C. Harper said.” They have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and they will do a lot of the things they did last year. Defensively, they like to change things up. We will see a lot of blitzing.”
SFA, which plays in the Southland Conference, used an air assault to win its season opener against Southwest Oklahoma State 49-14. The Lumberjacks dropped their next two contests to SMU and Montana State 52-0 and 42-35, respectively.
Texas State will be playing its third straight opponent, who features a pass-first, hurry-up, no-huddle offense which will test the Bobcats’ secondary. The Bobcats have been inconsistent in the area, surrendering only 211 passing yards to Houston but 405 yards to Texas Tech.
SFA has shown it likes to pass through its first three games of the season, averaging 60 passes a game. They have thrown for more than 415 yards per game, nearing that mark against SMU in a 52-0 loss. Despite getting shut out, SFA was still able to move the chains 28 times.
“They like to throw the ball. They have a good offense,” Coach Dennis Franchione said. “They’ve been able to move the ball on everybody, and they’ve been able to score points on everybody. [Against] SMU, they didn’t get into the end zone, but they moved the ball.”
Sophomore quarterback Brady Attaway is the starting signal caller for the Lumberjacks. Attaway experienced his best game of the season in the team’s most recent loss to Montana State. The second-year starter threw for 418 yards on 33-52 passing, throwing for three touchdowns but also two interceptions.
Stopping the run was another issue in the Bobcats’ most recent loss against the Red Raiders. However, the Lumberjacks only attempt an average of 27 rushes per game, averaging less than 70 yards per contest. Sophomore Gus Johnson starts at tail back and ran for 45 yards on 16 attempts with a touchdown in their loss to Montana State.
The Lumberjack defense has given up 94 points in the last two games (both losses). Against Montana State, the defense surrendered 458 total yards, mostly through the air. Against SMU, they were victimized with the pass as well, allowing 256 passing yards. The lopsided score was mainly due to 10 turnovers.
“They’re a physical defense,” wide receiver Isaiah Battle said. “They run around and make a lot of tackles. Just like any other team, we have to play them physical, be 100 percent on our assignments and execute to the best of our ability. Hopefully we come out hot.”
The Bobcats will attempt to regain their efficient offense they saw in week one against Houston. Senior Quarterback Shaun Rutherford will get the start for the third straight week and will try to duplicate his 19-25, 196 yard touchdown performance against the Cougars.
“We need consistent, solid decision making and play from our quarterbacks,” Franchione said. “It takes a whole offense to move the football. Everyone has their job to do. There is a lot on a quarterback’s shoulders because he handles the ball every play. The main thing is to not turn the ball over.”
Marcus Curry, who was held out of the Texas Tech game, will be back against SFA fully healthy. Curry rushed for 131 yards off 14 carries with two touchdowns against Houston. The Bobcats had 444 offensive yards with 248 of those coming on the ground in their week one win.
SFA has dropped seven of its last eight meetings with the Bobcats. Its lone win was in 2006 in San Marcos. SFA is 2-12 historically against FBS opponents. In 2003, it was able to secure a victory against UL-Monroe.
Follow Jordan Brewer on Twitter: @jbrewer32