Official Blog of Texas State University - San Marcos Department of Athletics.

Blogging Maroon & Gold: Top 10 Preview (Part 2)

Written by Brant Freeman on 4:03 PM



As promised Bobcat fans our countdown of the Top 10 things to look for in the 2012 season continues…for numbers 6-10 click here or scroll down I guess…By the way before I get to 1-5, I’d like to direct you to my new twitter account: @Brant_Freeman.  Follow me during the season, I will post pictures from our road trips as well as fill you on the week’s 2-deep for both the Bobcats and their opponents!  Check these out for a preview as to what I’ll be sharing on twitter…


#5 Offensive Line

D.J. Hall, Michael Chambers, Jon Vernon, Steven Kenney are all gone (DJ getting ready for camp himself in Jacksonville).  Those four seniors from last year’s team leave voids at both starting guard positions, left tackle and center. 
Just as the Bobcats addressed the defensive line in the most recent recruiting class, the coaches also put a big emphasis on the offensive line signing four freshman and one junior college transfer (Tyler Potter).  In addition to the new o-lineman, there will be seven players who are coming off of redshirt years PLUS two players (Adley Eshragipour and Jeff Clermond) making the transition from defensive lineman to offensive lineman. 
Of these 14 “new” players on the o-line, the average height is 6’3 and average weight is 287 pounds with 9 players 6’4 or taller and five tipping the scales at over 295 pounds.  That’s a lot of beef not counting returning starters Charlie Will Tuttle (who earned a full scholarship after his impressive red-shirt freshman season last year) and Thaddeus Watkins.
The Bobcats will certainly need the depth to go up against big, fast and skilled d-lines of their FBS opponents this season and help pave the way for a rushing attack which averaged 195 yards per game last season, but more importantly keep the quarterback upright.  The o-line gave up 21 sacks last year, 7 fewer than the season before.  If that number goes down even further this season against this schedule you can count that as a successful year for men up front.

#4 - The Quarterback Position

Speaking of quarterbacks…there will be an intense competition for the starting job this fall.  Shaun Rutherford and Tyler Ardnt would appear to be the front-runners for the job, Rutherford after starting the majority of Texas State’s games last year (12 TD, 4 INT, 144.7 efficiency rating and over 1,600 yards of total offense) and Ardnt because he has 8 career starts himself and according to the coaches made some huge strides during the Spring.  And there’s also JUCO transfer Duke Delancelotti (’12 Spring Game: 10-16, 149 yds, 2 TD) and Jordan Moore who’s capable of making huge plays with his feet, always important in this particular offense.
As for who gets the job, your guess is as good as mine.  If there’s a favorite right now the coaches haven’t said as much but that’s probably because they’re looking to make a full and complete evaluation over the next month before making that decision.  I would also venture that we will see more than one quarterback man the offense this season with substitutions made based on certain offensive packages and game situations.
I don’t think the expectations are for the starter to be a 300-yard-a-game passer with 35-40 pass attempts, but rather one who A) protects the football, B) is pocket savvy, C) makes the right reads in the option and D) protects the football.

#3 - Chase Harper
If the quarterback is going to rack up some big passing numbers, odds are Chase Harper will be involved.  Texas State’s 2nd year tight-end hasn’t played a down of FBS football yet has been named pre-season 2nd team All-WAC and to the John Mackey Award Watch List, an honor given to the nation’s top tight end at the end of the season. 
Harper is deceptively quick despite his large frame (6’5” 260 lbs).   He’s an extremely powerful run blocker and may have the best hands on the team.  On top of that (as we mentioned in #8 of the countdown) the coaches are looking to use Harper on defense in obvious passing situations at defensive end to send him after opposing quarterbacks. 
His numbers from last year (20 catches, 287 yards, 3 TDs) look modest, but keep in mind that Bobcat tight ends the previous three seasons COMBINED had 34 catches for 331 yards and 4 TDs.  I would expect Harper’s stats to be even better this season despite the step-up in competition.
There are a lot of players fans should be excited to see this season but Chase Harper could be the best of them.  May even play well enough to earn a spot on this list.  Watch out for #19 (Chase is changing his number from 88 to 19). 

#2 - Bobcat Stadium




I’ll keep this brief in order to let the pictures speak (mostly) for themselves.  A lot of work has been done to get Bobcat Stadium ready for the program’s FBS debut.  With the seating capacity increasing by about 13,000 and Texas State’s killer home schedule, attendance records will be smashed this season.  The TEXAS…STATE chants will be louder than ever.  State-of-the-art audio and video boards, brand new amenities…everything has been done to give Texas State fans a true college football experience.  I don’t think they will be disappointed.

#1 - The Notoriety

With at least four games on television the Bobcats will receive plenty of exposure in their inaugural FBS season and every week a new challenge will arise and will give Texas State Football the opportunity to prove itself in the FBS.  They will travel from the east coast (Navy) to the west coast (San Jose State).  The ‘Cats will battle the Big XII (Texas Tech), the Mountain West Conference (Nevada, New Mexico) and even square off against a former Southland foe (Stephen F. Austin).  Texas State will play into December (New Mexico State) and will go to war against their I-35 rivals for the first time ever on the gridiron (UTSA).  College Football fans from nearly every corner of the country will get to know the name Texas State
The 2012 season is the most highly anticipated season in the history of the program and one that will never be forgotten.  Welcome to FBS football Bobcat fans and get comfortable, because we’re in for a long and extremely fun ride.

Eat ‘Em Up!
- Brant (bf17@txstate.edu)

Blogging Maroon & Gold (July 23rd): Top 10 Preview

Written by Brant Freeman on 10:52 AM


Well bobcat fans, Texas State has been an official member of the FBS for a few weeks now and the highly anticipated 2012 football season is less than a month and a half away.  Couple that with the construction of Bobcat Stadium nearly complete and these are some exciting times at our University!  For more on the significance of what the “move up” means, check out my interview with Associate AD Don Coryell online at KGNB’s website.  

Training Camp is also on the horizon as players report on Sunday August 5th and will be in helmets and shorts August 6th and in full pads for the first time that Friday, August 10th.  Looking forward to covering camp and you can expect some more blogs and podcasts with myself and my broadcaster partner Bill Culhane all camp long!  Did you know Bill is entering his 19th football season at Texas State?  He’s been covering the ‘Cats longer than some of our players have been alive…(if he’s reading this, Bill feel free to jab me on air in return sometime this season, I’ll be expecting it…)

In anticipation of the fall camp and the coming season I would like to take a look at the storylines I’m most excited to see unfold this season.  And you know me, I love Top 10 lists so here are my Top 10 things to watch for in 2012…

#10 - Special Teams

Texas State is up against a really tough schedule this season, the toughest the program has ever had (which of course comes with the territory of being an FBS school for the first time).  To ask the offense to drive 80 yards multiple times week in and week out will be difficult.  Turnovers will help create short fields (the Bobcats were -7 in TOs this past season, a number Coach Fran has pointed out must improve) but the return game can be a huge asset in this department as well. 

I think it’s flown under the radar a bit, but in the past few seasons the Bobcats have been really good at returning punts and kicks.   Did you know that Texas State has had at least one kickoff return or one punt return for a TD in each of the past four seasons?   From Karrington Bush to DaMarcus Griggs and last year Isaiah Battle and Andy Erickson the ‘Cats have made opposing special teams units nervous. 

Speaking of punting, the Bobcats will start just their fourth different punter since 2003 this season while place kicker Will Johnson (who could also do some punting for the Bobcats) will prepare for his second season kicking field goals and handling kickoff duties.  Johnson was 13-24 on FGs as a freshman (5 FGs from 45 yards or further) and had 17 touchbacks on kickoffs.

#9 - The Running Back Stable

I don’t think many people thought that by the end of the season last year that Terrence Franks, a redshirt freshman who’s career high season yardage in high school was 688 yards, would’ve led the Bobcats in rushing but he did.  The former track star from Angleton had 863 yards with a 5.9 yards per carry average and 9 TDs.  An explosive back, Franks had 8 rushes of 20 yards or more including runs of 74, 58 and 22 yards at SE-Louisiana en route to a 234 yard day against the Lions, a Texas State freshman record.  Marcus Curry (when healthy) has proven to be a playmaker as well finishing third on the team in all-purpose yards last season in limited action racking up 736 yards (63 yards/game).  Chris Nutall looked good in the Spring and with Dexter Imade returning from injury this season, the Bobcats should have plenty of options in the backfield and those running backs will serve a crucial component of Texas State’s spread option offense.

#8 - Pass Rush

When training camp opened last season, not many knew who Michael Ebbit was.  He was a transfer from Texas A&M where he really didn’t get the chance to play.  He wasn’t listed on the two-deep going into the opener at Texas Tech and was thought of being just “a guy”.  It didn’t take long for Ebbit to shed that label, totaling 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.  Consider that the season before that the Bobcat team had 13 sacks TOTAL.  Problem is, last season was the only one for Ebbit in a Bobcat uniform and Texas State is left looking to replace that production. 

Defensive Coordinator Craig Naivar is known for having an aggressive defense, looking to get pressure on the quarterback from all angles, blitzing linebackers, corners and safeties.  While that shouldn’t change this season, the more the ‘Cats can get pressure with their front four, the more other defenders can drop back in coverage and the defense as a whole will be more effective. 

With the loss of Ebbit, Bobcat coaches hit the recruiting trail to bring in some beef upfront and around the edges, evident by the signings of Kamu Taulelei, Jaryl Mamea and Thomas Evans.  With the returns of DE Jordan Norfleet (32 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks) and Blake McColloch (18/3.0/1.0) among others, the ‘Cats front four will look to bring the heat against opposing QBs in 2012, and against some pass-heavy offenses they’ll need to do just that.  Also look for Bobcat tight end Chase Harper to get some snaps at defensive end in obvious passing down situations…

#7 - The New Guys

We just touched on a couple in Taulelei and Evans but that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Between last year’s redshirts, incoming JUCO transfers and a few freshman (assuming a good chunk of freshman will be redshirted this season), the Bobcats will be as deep as they’ve ever been. 

A lot of coaches have expressed excitement about RS Fr. Linebacker Joshua ‘E Robinson who had an impressive spring and fellow RS Fr Matt Freeman is expected to start on the offensive line.  The true freshman recruits, such as OL Ryan Melton and DB Martell Summers (a pair of three-star recruits) could be players to watch out for as well should the coaches choose not to red-shirt them. 

Bottom line is Texas State is getting an influx of talent like it never has before, and the coaching staff, the move to the FBS and renovations at Bobcat Stadium have all played a huge part.  Can’ wait to see it translate onto the field…

#6 - The Schedule

One could argue that incoming recruits are being sold on Texas State’s schedule as well.  College Football is an event and prospective student athletes love nothing more than to perform in front of sold-out crowds and against the best the sport has to offer.  The Bobcats have never played more than two FBS schools in a season in the history of the program.  Well, Texas State IS an FBS school now.  Just compare this year’s schedule to last year’s.  (An in-state Big XII school is coming to San Marcos!)

In road games last season, Texas State’s opposition averaged just over 18,000 fans (a number inflated by the opener at Texas Tech, take away that game the average plummets to under 11,300).  The teams the Bobcats will visit this season combined to average nearly 25,000 fans a game.  The Bobcats will play two bowl teams this season BOTH here in San Marcos (Nevada and Louisiana Tech). 

You will not look at Texas State’s 2012 schedule this season and think of the word cupcake.  This is going to be a tough yet challenging and fun schedule.  In the words of NFL linebacker Bart Scott…well, you know.

We’ll round out the top 10 in the next blog coming soon.  Until then…Eat ‘Em Up!

- Brant (bf17@txstate.edu)

Volleyball Thoughts by Coach Huiet

Written by John on 11:55 AM

Hey Bobcat Fans!!! I just realized it’s been way too long since I have updated everyone on my life and what’s going on in Bobcat Volleyball. I can’t believe that it is 2012, where has the time gone? I hope y’all are off to a great start and your best year yet, that’s what we are hoping for in the volleyball world. After such a successful 2011 season, we are hoping 2012 is even better… things we are looking for in 2012 are a WAC Championship, Top 30 ranking in attendance, top 50 ranking on the court and a trip to the NCAA second round or farther- we are going to need your help for these lofty goals! Right now we are working hard to get physically and mentally ready for it. We practice early in the mornings during the spring usually around 7:15am, so if you are up and have had your cup of coffee then you need to come see us. We will be hosting our spring tournament on March 24th, starting around 9am so you can come see us play some matches against some good competition, keep checking the website for updates and a schedule.

Calling all golfers, we need you!! We are having our 8th annual Jeannie Miller Memorial Golf Tournament on March 23 with a tee time of noon. It’s a great day to enjoy some golf, get to know the current Bobcat team and most importantly support Texas State Volleyball. We will have some great prizes and really good food from Texas Roadhouse. Again it’s just a great way to support the Bobcats and I promise you a day of fun!! Now if golf is not your thing and you want to enjoy some time with us come out for our banquet on March 24th celebrating our 2011 Southland Conference Championships.

Getting ready to get into my favorite time of the year- MARCH MADNESS! Can’t wait to see what both Men’s and Women’s Bobcat Basketball has in store for the end of the season, make sure you are in the stands cheering loud. I have a fun rivalry with both of my brothers, they love North Carolina and I have always been a Duke Basketball (just basketball) fan, if anyone saw that game the other night you know that my brothers got some texts from me rubbing it in!! It was a great game and has me ready for the NCAA Tournament.

Well Bobcat Fans… I promise it won’t be months before I post again, I will keep you up to date with what’s going on with Volleyball and even my eventful life as much as possible. Baseball and softball both open up at home this week- BE THERE!

It’s a great day to be Bobcat!

Coach Sean

Rocky Mountain High

Written by Bill Culhane on 10:22 AM

How 'bout them Cowboys...against our Bobcats!

After jumping out early at the Red Raiders, we all know that the turnovers, some missed tackles, and a few other missteps led to the Bobcat's demise in the season opener. Fortunately, the mistakes are correctable, Texas Tech is officially in the rear-view mirror, and the 'Cats have another opportunity to light the star!

Later today (Friday), the Bobcats will head to Wyoming to take on another FBS program, the Wyoming Cowboys, uh, Pokes. Kickoff is 5PM Central, Saturday, September 10th. Some of you may know, the Cowboys will return the trip by coming to San Marcos in the 2013 season. Wow, we are going to have some interesting matchups at Bobcat Stadium in the not so distant future!

Among the thoughts on the defense's performance at Texas Tech, Coach Craig Naivar, our defensive coordinator, said, "...our attitude, our approach, our tenacity was very good, we just didn't finish it. This showed up in our lack of redzone defense."

"I don't think we responded real well as a defense after those turnovers. It's not our job to pick where we come on the field...it's our job to keep it out of the endzone", per Coach Naivar on maintaining execution regardless of the situation.

Coach Naivar on facing Brett Smith, Wyoming's true freshman quarterback, "We're going to give him a bunch of different looks. I give the man credit, he threw for 294 yards (vs Weber State), he grew up in the second half and end of the game. If their football team wasn't behind him before, they are now!"

Coach Fran on opposing Wyoming's offense, "They do a good job of not overloading him and protecting him (frosh QB, Brett Smith)...we have to get some pressure on him, we have to make him throw off rhythm, make him get out of his comfort zone."

"They're a typical Wyoming football team. They are hard-nosed, they are physical, they fight their tails off. They are gap sound, they get off blocks, they are characteristic of what I think of when I think Wyoming football. It's "Cowboy tough" and that's the way they play", Coach Fran on Wyoming's tough, veteran-laden defense.

If you are traveling to War Memorial Stadium in Laramie to check out the Bobcats, I hope you have safe and happy travels. In case you won't be at the game, the game will be televised by the Mountain West Conference network (check local listings). You can also listen to the game on ESPN Deportes, 92.5FM, Austin, or KTSW, 89.9FM, San Marcos. The game audio will be streamed on espnaustin.com and txstatebobcats.com. Brant Freeman and I will launch our pregame show beginning at 4PM Central, 5PM Kickoff. John McElfresh will man the sidelines and provide the halftime and postgame thoughts from Coach Fran.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please email me at lightthestar@gmail.com.

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill










Inside Bobcat Football Starts Right Now...

Written by Bill Culhane on 12:24 PM

Texas State Bobcats Up Close and Personal!

Wyoming Week! For those who made the trip to Lubbock, I hope you had a safe trip home. In case you didn't get a chance to go see the Bobcats take on the Red Raiders, Texas State Athletics and Time Warner Cable's Your News Now (YNN) have teamed up to bring you Inside Bobcat Football.

Along with highlights from each Bobcat football game, our head coach, Dennis Franchione shares his thoughts on the team's performance. We will also have other interesting segments covering the world of Texas State athletics. Towards the end of each show, Coach Fran will give his preview of the Bobcat's upcoming opponent. This is your all-access, weekly dose of Bobcat football.

The 30 minute show airs on YNN's non-stop sports channel 408 (SD) and channel 1509 (HD) and channel 1408 (On Demand).

Air Time: Mondays starting at 8PM through Tuesdays at 7PM (at the top of the hour).

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know at lightthestar@gmail.com.

Eat 'Em Up

Bill

QBs/Offense

Written by Bill Culhane on 10:07 AM

Ready, break!

As we are now within a day of Bobcats v Red Raiders, here is my final Countdown to Kickoff blog. I hope you have found them enjoyable and they have given a little insight into your Bobcat football team. As always, we hope to see you and yours at the games. If you still don’t have your season tickets, our home opener is Saturday, September 17th, here is where to get your tickets.

We just blogged about our defensive coordinator, Coach Naivar’s return to San Marcos. Well, our offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Mike Schultz, is no stranger to our fair city, having served here under Coach Fran from '90-'91.

Barrick Nealy, immediately followed by Bradley George, has meant that the Bobcats have recently had an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position. Right now, we have two young men who have shown the ability to help lead the Bobcats to points.

Coach Fran repeatedly talks about being your best on the play right now…then, be your best on the next play, etc, etc… He holds the same belief when it comes to the guys on the field. He wants the best eleven on the field for THAT play. It stands to reason then that we would want our best quarterback on the field for that play, that situation. Shaun Rutherford, a transfer from Blinn, and Tyler Arndt, our returning sophomore, have been sharing reps at quarterback and both will see action. Both signal callers are growing in the offense and been excellent during Fall Camp 2011.

Shaun Rutherford made it clear that he and Tyler Arndt are looking forward to leading the offense, “I think Tyler and I have done very well. It’s been a great competition throughout practice. Day in, day out, we study film together. We come to practice every day ready to help make each other better.”

I have noted a marked improvement in Shaun’s passing ability from four months ago. “It was kind of rough getting back into it, but I came up here every morning, every afternoon, worked on my drop backs, my steps, just tried to get my technique back together,” is Rutherford’s explanation for his progress.

As you know, Tyler Arndt has already shown that he can lead a Bobcat football team to victory. Tyler matched Shaun‘s comments on how the quarterbacks are pushing each other to ultimately make the team better, “I think we have clicked really well. Shaun and I are both getting reps with the 1’s. We both bring a lot of leadership. Whoever steps in the huddle, the team knows they can count on us.”

Arndt agrees dealing with the environment this Saturday at Texas Tech won't be as much of an issue having started his career at Houston in 2010, “I think so. Playing in front of a lot of people, it will really help. I know what to expect.”

Coach Schultz assessed the Bobcat quarterbacks, “They’ve come a long way since last Spring. We feel like they’ve made good progress. With quarterbacks, you’re never where you want to be, but let me say this, we’re not where we used to be!”

Spread the Love Around

We have discussed all of the changes on defense and even special teams. As you well know by now, our offense has also gone under modifications since the 2010 season. We have an entirely new offensive coaching staff and will be running, as it’s been explained to me, “the Texas State spread offense”. Meaning, there are many variations of the spread offense across the landscape, but our offense is “the Texas State spread offense”.

Through camp, it appears that this means we will run and pass the ball and would prefer to be +/- 50-50. Short game, deep game, the entire route tree is in our arsenal. We will run between the tackles, out wide, zone reads, etc… To our future opponents, I hope I haven’t revealed too much.

“I agree with Coach Fran, we have a lot of moving parts right now. We’ve made a lot of improvement and I think the kids are excited about the offense and what we‘re doing,” Coach Schultz on the offense as a whole.

The Countdown to Kickoff blogs are now officially over, the crowd roars. I will be stopping by, from time to time, with additional blogs about the world of Texas State athletics. You’ve been warned…

The Bobcat’s game at Texas Tech this Saturday will be the maiden broadcast on ESPN Deportes, 92.5 FM, 5PM pregame, 6PM Kickoff. You can also listen in at espnaustin.com or txstatebobcats.com. We will speak with you from Lubbock!

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know at lightthestar@gmail.com.

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Safeties and the Defense

Written by Bill Culhane on 1:42 AM

Safe and Sound

So you thought quarterbacks only played offense, huh? In the Bobcat’s 4-2-5 defense, the safeties take on added importance and responsibility, because they are charged with making the defensive calls = ensuring everyone else is aligned and assigned correctly. Made famous by the movie script of Cool Hand Luke, I hope we rarely hear the words, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Overall, the Bobcat defense is filled with youth, and the safety group is no different. Where have I typed that before? The safeties are young and relatively inexperienced, however, with that you also get the passion, enthusiasm, and naivete of youth. They might not always go to the right spot at the right time, but they do it 100% and with fire in their eyes. Akin to the team as a whole, the defense will improve as the season goes along…zero doubt.

Jason McLean, a junior safety from San Antonio, gave an overview of the responsibilities of the safeties in the 4-2-5, “We have to communicate with everyone. It’s a good position to be in and it’s been fun.”

Jason shared his thoughts on the process of going from talented backup to projected starter, “I had to work a lot over the years to be in this spot right now. I’m at a good position right now, the coaches we have are great, they will put us in good position to make plays.”

Our Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach, Craig Naivar, is a man who requires little introduction to anyone who has been around the program since after the 2003 season. All you have to know about Coach Naivar’s resume is that he was the mastermind behind our 2005 national semi-finalist defense. He hails from Central Texas, is well respected in the football community, and has the fire and requisite raspy voice of a defensive coordinator.

Initially, Coach Naivar focused his thoughts on the value of the safeties in the 4-2-5, “They have picked it up well and done a good job. We’re still trying to get better. A big part of this defense is communicating, have your eyes in the right place, make sure you’re assignment sound so we can play fast.”

“In this scheme, the safeties are the quarterbacks of our defense. They set coverages, blitzes, blitz checks, formational adjustments…they have to be good communicators, quick communicators,” is just some of the work expected of the safeties per Coach Naivar.

You Need Me on That Wall

I , like many of you, have seen every defensive scheme under the lights. The 4-2-5 has yielded significant success in the land of the Bobcats. You put speed on the field, your d-linemen have to be technicians but don’t have to be mammoth, in-game personnel changes aren’t a crisis, offenses in hurry up don’t create panic, you can bring people from an array of angles. I think CJ Carroll used to parachute in for one of his career record sacks (not sure what the call is on that blitz).

Coach Naivar discussed the Bobcat defense as a whole, “It’s going to be an ever-evolving process. Anytime in a first year system, you work your tail off to put guys in the right position and that will evolve, especially in the first three or four weeks.” There is a balance in preparing the team for the opener at Texas Tech, “We are working hard to make sure guys are in the right spot, doing the right things. We are working hard to make sure we aren‘t doing too much, that we’re fundamentally sound. We’re not where we want to be, but we are a lot better than where we were.”

Deep breath! Tomorrow, I wrap up the pre-2011 season blogs by covering the quarterbacks and the offense with Coach Mike Schultz.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know at lightthestar@gmail.com

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

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The Drive is more than new buildings and championships. It's an increased sense of pride. The essence of Texas State makes this school one of the best universities in the country. Get Loud, Be Proud! It's A Great Day to be a Bobcat!

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