Texas State football celebrates after its first FBS win Sept. 1 against the University of Houston. The Bobcats finished 4-8 this season.
Texas State football ended its first FBS season with a 66-28 rout of the New Mexico State University Aggies, a victory that ended the team’s five game losing streak.
“We don’t have very many seniors to replace,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “I think it’s going to turn out fine. I think that the last eight to 10 spots are the hardest to fill. We will continue to upgrade our talent level, the size and strength. We will continue to recruit the junior college players—not a lot, but some.”
The Bobcats (4-8) will make another transition in the offseason from the WAC to the Sun Belt. The WAC fell apart following 2011’s conference realignment and will not be a football playing conference in 2013. The Sun Belt just lost two members heading into 2014, Florida Atlantic University and Middle Tennessee State University. This loss drops the conference to eight football-playing schools in 2014. In 2013, 10 are slated to play, including Texas State.
“It’s nice to go into the Sun Belt conference knowing that’s where we are and where we will be,” Franchione said. “There’s always a changing climate in college football.”
While the Bobcats only had 17 seniors, those seniors were large contributors to the program in the last two seasons. Texas State will lose starters quarterback Shaun Rutherford, running back Marcus Curry, cornerback Darryl Morris, safety Jason McLean, tight end Chase Harper and the team’s leading tackler and linebacker Joplo Bartu, among others.
Bartu recorded a 2012 game-high four sacks and had 17 tackles, eight for loss, and a forced fumble. Bartu was awarded WAC Player of the Week and received all-WAC honors for his play in 2012, along with Harper and Morris.
“It felt amazing,” Bartu said. “It was great to end the season off with a ‘W.’ This was our last collegiate game, so I wanted to play every snap hard. This has been a long ride. We went from a small FCS school to a big FBS school. The seniors have been through it. It was a pleasure and a blessing to be a part of it.”
The Bobcats will need new leaders in 2013 and may have found one in sophomore cornerback Craig Mager. Mager had an interception against the Aggies and returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown – the longest in school history. Mager finished fifth on the team in tackles with 48, and led the team in interceptions in 2012 with four.
“We just have a lot of work to do,” Mager said. “We are going to have a tough Sun Belt conference next year. We are just going to have to go back to the drawing board. I am going to try to pick up the defense and put them on my back and ride the Sun Belt.”
The Bobcats’ off-season has begun, or what some would call the beginning of the 2013 season. Texas State will be looking to land top recruits, especially on the defensive line, following a year that ranked Texas State in the bottom 10 in sacks and run defense.
“Recruiting takes a huge priority,” Franchione said. “I just told them the 2013 season just started,” Franchione said. “Juniors become seniors, sophomores become juniors, etc. You have to look at it that way. We will start lifting and send them home with workout plans.”
The Bobcats finished fifth out of seven in the WAC in 2012 and will play in their third conference in three years starting next August.