The Texas State football team will attempt to capture its first-ever Sun Belt Conference win Saturday when the Bobcats take on winless Georgia State at home.
The Panthers will look to senior wide receiver Albert Wilson, who was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt first team by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview. Sophomore running back Robert Lowe is the only offensive player for the Bobcats to be named to first team.
Last week against Troy, Wilson led the Panthers with seven catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. For special teams on the kick return, Wilson returned two kicks for 48 and 71 yards, totaling 268 all-purpose yards.
Last week senior wide receiver Andy Erickson ran a 36-yard punt return, his longest of the season. Erickson accumulated 65 yards for an average of 10.8 yards per punt return.
“This week to win the special teams battle everyone has to do their one-eleventh on the field,” Erickson said. “We have to think on our feet, because each play is different. You never get the same look, but most important are blocks and fundamental blocking.”
Wilson leads the Sun Belt in receiving yards with 111.7 yards per game and 20.3 yards per catch. He ranks third in receptions at 5.5 per game. His average of 197.8 all-purpose yards is second in conference standings.
Moving to more of a hurry-up style of offense, the Panthers are looking to catch their opponents off guard and continue to add on to Wilson’s accolades. He has surpassed 100 yards receiving in four games this season and has previously done so 11 other times in his career.
“We basically started it to give our defense a look, then looked at each other and said, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s look at it,’ said Panther Coach Trent Miles. “So, we decided to put it in and do it some of the game, and I thought it gave us a spark.”
Including last season, the Panthers have tallied one win in the victory column. On average this year, Georgia State has been beaten by 21.2 points. Last year, the team lost by an average margin of 21.1, and the Panthers’ one win came against University of Rhode Island.
“We have to understand a good week of practice, the process, great preparation—fighting hard mentally and physically does not guarantee a victory,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “It guarantees a chance for victory—if you don’t do those things you guarantee defeat. It’s okay to hurt after loss, but you have to put it to bed and go back to work.”
Texas State has made the transition to youth, going from a starting senior quarterback and junior running back in the backfield to freshman quarterback Tyler Jones and Lowe.
“I felt like we were moving the ball pretty well,” Lowe said “It’s just those small, fundamental things that we have to get done, and it’s all in the football. You can’t just be a good offense and not be disciplined.”
Since Jones has entered the lineup, he has recorded 160 yards rushing, third most on the team in that span. Jones tallied 56 yards in his first start against Wyoming, including a 38-yard scramble, which led to the Bobcats’ first scoring drive.
Lowe became the primary back and has produced six touchdowns on the year. He enters the game with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Against Louisiana-Monroe, Lowe marked a career-high 140 yards, the week before he posted 138 yards. He was the first Bobcat to receive a touchdown this year, with a 23-yard catch against Southern Miss.
“We have to have a lot of discipline on defense,” Miles said. “Coach Franchione has been doing this system for quite a while. I coached against him when he was at New Mexico, and I coached against him when he was at TCU and had LaDainian Tomlinson. He knows how to run the football, and you have to have discipline on defense.”