UPDATE: Texas State defeated Prairie View A&M 21-3.
Texas State will be looking to start the year 2–0 for the first time since the 2005 season when it takes on Prairie View A&M in the Bobcats’ home opener Saturday.
The Bobcats’ defense fired on all cylinders in the first game of the season with their first two possessions ending in forced turnovers, including a strip fumble by junior cornerback Craig Mager. Mager returned the fumble for a 44-yard touchdown.
“Its pretty simple, we just need to worry about executing our defense,” said junior linebacker David Mayo. “(Prairie View) runs a lot of fast tags and rallying to the ball. It’s tough on our linebackers especially. That’s one thing we have to look out for.”
Entering his third year at the helm, Prairie View Coach Heishma Northern led the Panthers to a 3–8 record last year and beat Texas Southern Aug. 31 37–13 in the Labor Day Classic.
Starting where they left off last season, the Panthers tallied 488 total offensive yards, with 316 yards coming by air and 172 from the ground. Prairie View keeps a veteran core on the offensive side of the ball with nine returning starters from last year’s team, which led the Southwestern Athletic Conference with 415.6 yards per game.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Northern and the success they’ve had there,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “They just had a good win against Texas Southern. They scored 37 points and had 500 yards of offense. They’ve been very good on offense the last couple years, and this will be the same quarterback we faced two years ago. I thought he played very well against us two years ago.”
The Panthers’ offense came running out of the gate during their season opener with an 11-play, 80-yard opening drive. Junior quarterback Jerry Lovelocke led the attack, completing eight out of nine passes in the drive.
New defensive coordinator Charles McMillian and the starting Panther defense had to shake off the rust after the opening drive by Texas Southern, who scored in only four plays. McMillian will be looking to improve the team’s ninth-ranked scoring defense finish last year in conference play.
“Defensively they’ve made some changes, going to an odd front from an even front,” Franchione said. “Watching the game tape from Saturday night, I thought they played good, sound, fundamental football. They were well-coached. They were in position. It was a good defensive effort. They make you earn everything you get and Texas Southern struggled getting enough points.”
After the first touchdown, Prairie View only allowed two field goals and shut out the Texas Southern offense in the second half.
“It’s the unexpected,” said senior wide receiver Isaiah Battle. “We played Prairie View two years ago, we don’t really know what we’re going to get. They’ve changed some things upfront, we have to come ready and do our best.”
The Panthers had two athletes recognized for their efforts in Week 1. Junior running back Courtney Brown and redshirt freshman linebacker Jamespaul Bryant were selected to represent the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player and Newcomer of the Week.
Brown filled the box scores rushing for 98 yards on 14 attempts and caught five passes for 85 yards. Brown led the Panthers last year with nine rushing touchdowns. In Bryant’s first-ever collegiate game he marked eight tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
The Bobcats have gone 15–1 in their last 16 home openers dating back to 1996. Texas State’s only loss came to Texas Tech in their first full season in the FBS last season, 58–10.
Follow Samuel Rubbelke on Twitter: @SamuelRubbelke