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

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

Written by Bill Culhane on 12:57 PM

Start Spreading the News…

On August 28th, after months of hard work by members of the Athletic Department, we announced a history making partnership between Texas State and Border Media to broadcast Bobcat football games on ESPN Deportes (KXXS 92.5 FM). In many respects, this represents another wave hitting the beach in terms of media coverage and opportunities for the entire Texas State community.

Don Coryell, our Associate Athletics Director for External Operations, described what this opportunity represents for Texas State, Border Media, Bobcat fans, and supporters of Texas State, “This agreement gives us a commercial radio broadcast, a presence in the Austin area and we are teaming up with a media group that has the ability to promote Bobcat athletics.”


The Bobcats game at Texas Tech this Saturday will be the maiden broadcast on 92.5 FM, 5PM pregame, 6PM Kickoff. As I’ve noted in previous blogs, the broadcast will contain many of the elements from past Bobcat broadcasts.


In the one hour pregame, we will have visits with Coach Fran, a Bobcat assistant coach, a Bobcat student-athlete, and the Voice of the Opposition. At halftime, along with scores from elsewhere and stats, we will have a visit with Coach Fran and interview with a person of interest in the world of Texas State athletics. The fifteen minute postgame will consist of a wrap up by Coach Fran, highlites, stats, a look ahead, and much, much more.


The Team: Along with the professional, dedicated group at KXXS, 92.5 FM, Brant Freeman will handle Bobcat football play by play duties for his ninth season. This will be my eighteenth year of covering Bobcat football, fifteenth in the football broadcast booth. John McElfresh, from the Texas State AD, will man the sidelines for the Bobcat’s 2011 road games. At home games, Maddie Serviente, a KTSW student, will provide the updates from down on the field.


Brant echoed Coryell’s excitement about the partnership with Border Media, "I'm very excited to have Bobcat Football on the air covering a good portion of our fan base which resides in Austin. It's a great relationship to have with the people at ESPN Radio in Austin, and the exposure will do wonders for the product of Texas State University Athletics.”


Freeman recognized the expansion of the Texas State broadcast footprint, “I'm also thrilled to have network broadcasts available for every road game throughout the 2011 season, given our longtime relationship with KTSW, it's tremendous to have their partnership in the Bobcat Radio Network, and now both ends of the I-35 corridor, both north and south of San Marcos, will be covered."


As always, the goal of our broadcasts is to provide excellent service, coverage, and exposure to our coaches, student-athletes, supporters, and our many loyal and passionate Bobcat fans. Coach Fran, who was a part of the broadcast for the 2011 Maroon and Gold game, discussed the impact this agreement will have on the program, “There is so much excitement among our fans for our program, the move to the Western Athletic Conference, and everything that is happening here. It is great that we can reach out to them, have an opportunity for them to hear our games. Hopefully, get them excited to attend our games.”


Speaking of exposure, remember that Inside Bobcat Football will begin airing next week and throughout the 2011 season.


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

Eat 'Em Up!


Bill

Carrying the Rock

Written by Bill Culhane on 12:26 AM

Carrying the Rock

Donald Wilkerson, Claude Mathis, Bronson Sanders, Lee Davis, Smokey Sherman, Stan Zwinggi, Karrington Bush. I see their names and faces. I close my eyes and the memories flood my mind. Frames roll by as though brought to life by an ancient reel to reel projector. I see them slicing, spinning, bursting, sprinting towards the glory that the endzone holds in her beckoning hands. The roar of the frenzied Bobcat Stadium crowd reverberating in my mind, echoing into the San Marcos sky, across streets, parking lots, and towards the river. Yes, the slouched shoulders of the opponent's would-be tacklers are in the frames as well. I, along with many, have been blessed to witness greatness in the maroon and gold backfield.

Who will grab the baton this season? One guy, three backs, how many? While the Bobcat's certainly have talent at the running back position, a point remains. The Bobcats don't have a single back who has played the position, in a live-fire situation, while wearing a Bobcat uniform. The injury to Dexter Imade, a class guy and very good football player, added to the challenges faced by the remaining 'Cats.

Left to grab the rope, and excellence will emerge from this group, are: Marcus Curry, transfer from Navy, sat out ‘10 with an injury. Has had big time success in big time ballgames, terrific burst. Tim Hawkins, converted Bobcat QB. Coach Fran refers to Tim as "Slash". Overflows with athleticism, elusive in traffic, will make game prep and gameday more cumbersome for opponents. Terrence Franks, young (redshirt freshman), but talented with speed to burn. Tim Gay and Chris Nutall, both true freshmen, are clearly very good, but were finishing their high school careers nine months ago.

From 2001-2004, I admired from afar the success that North Texas put together in winning four straight Sun Belt titles, going 25-1 in SBC games in those years. The architect and mastermind of the Mean Green’s success is our new co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach, Coach Darrell Dickey. Note: Since Coach Dickey left UNT, they are a combined 7-34 (no typo)...ouch.

I visited recently with Coach Dickey and he discussed the RB group overall, “We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be at our position. We’ve got some good guys to work with, but we’ve still got to work on seeing how our plays develop, where the running lanes are, who we’re responsible for in pass protection. We are a work in progress at the running back position.”

As mentioned, the backs also have to help with protection. According to Coach Dickey, “I think they’ve made a lot of progress. Working against our defense, (see note below), has made us better. Pass protection is the biggest transition from high school to college…it takes them a while to figure out where they fit in the protection scheme, but they’ve done a very good job.”

Note: Coach Dickey, with many years of football under his belt, complimented the ‘Cat defense. “One of the things I’ve been impressed with is our defensive football team has some of the best blitzing linebackers that I’ve ever been around…”

I recall randomly watching Navy v Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl, won by Navy 35-13. I saw a Midshipman, Marcus Curry, tear up Missouri’s 12th ranked rush defense for 109 yards on 12 carries. He tacked on 5 receptions for 97 more yards. I thought to myself, “That guy is good.”. Fast forward two seasons, and now Marcus is prepared for his first game action with the Bobcats. Watching him since his arrival in Spring ‘10, I’ve thought to myself, “That guy is good.”

“I feel we are all playmakers. We all have good speed, we get blocks, we get physical…we do what we have to do to help the team win,” according to Marcus as he evaluated the running back group.

Marcus laughed and said the younger backs make fun of him for being the “elder-statesman”, “I’m like the old guy and they’re always cracking jokes all of the time.” Curry, the leader, sees a bright future for the youngsters, “I feel like they’re going to go out there and make plays if it’s their time.”

The Countdown to Kickoff blogs are winding down. We focus on the 4-2-5 defense and safeties with Coach Naivar tomorrow, Thursday. On Friday, we will visit with Coach Schultz to look over the spread offense and quarterbacks. On Saturday, we will, well, you know!

Spread the word on your facebook, twitter, phone, email, smoke signals, … Bobcat football is on ESPN Austin, 92.5 FM. Online at espnaustin.com or txstatebobcats.com. This marks the ninth season that Brant Freeman and I will bring you Bobcat football from the broadcast booth. John McElfresh will be the voice on the sideline providing insightful updates and visiting with Coach Fran at halftime and during our postgame coverage.

Also, Inside Bobcat Football will begin airing next week. Is this the year we earn an Emmy Award? Tune in and you decide!

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Special Forces

Written by Bill Culhane on 3:12 PM

Special Forces

Are you old enough to remember Dana Carvey doing his Church Lady bit, on Saturday Night Live? Remember her, err…his, famous line, “Well isn’t that SPE-CIAL?!” The Church Lady wasn’t a football fan or coach, but if the character were, the Church Lady would have quickly proclaimed that many games are won, or lost, with Special Teams play.

Hidden yardage, momentum changing plays, field position, quick points, short fields, the list goes on, are all parts of what Special Teams can do for, or against, your football team. A blocked field goal scoop and score, a fourth quarter punt return for a TD, a blocked punt, etc., are all Special Teams plays which Bobcat fans only have to think back to 2010 to recall the impact of Special Teams.

In close games, and I think the Bobcats will have their share in 2011, a Special Teams play can often be the difference between a W or L, or championships. In 2005, we had five games decided by a touchdown or less. In 2008, we had six such games. Case closed.

Coach Brad Franchione, who we already “met” when we reviewed the linebackers, is also our Special Teams Coordinator.

“I believe we made a tremendous amount of progress since the first day of camp,” is how Coach Franchione described ST’s so far. He continued, “I’m excited about what we’re doing kicking the ball, punting the ball. I think that Follis, Will Johnson, and Lloyd Chisum have shown themselves to be quality at what they do.”

Covering kicks is a part of the ST’s job description and Coach Franchione is getting happier by the day, “I’ve seen our coverage improve drastically, really in the last five days…probably because we’ve emphasized it more as a coaching staff.”

Make no mistake, there will be a lot of starters in on the ST units. According to Coach Franchione, “The precedent was set by the head coach many days ago…all the players in our program understand that quality effort, technique, execution on special teams, in some ways, is thought of higher than what they’re doing offensively and defensively.“ “If they can’t do that, then they may not be playing on offense and defense.“

Ben Follis, slated to be the Bobcat’s starting punter, is one of the veterans on the 2011 team and has punted (and run the ball!) for the Bobcats the previous three seasons.

According to Ben, it has been a building block process in getting the ST’s ready for 2011, “We’ve been breaking it down, doing one thing at a time, and then building on that at each practice.”

On the fifteen yard drop back from punt formation, “I haven’t done a fifteen yard drop back since high school. In the Spring, I was kind of struggling with it, getting my steps down. In Fall Camp, I’ve been a lot better.”

Spread the word! Bobcat radio can be heard on ESPN Austin, 92.5FM, starting with the season opener, this Saturday, at Texas Tech. “This Saturday”, can it be true?! We’ll speak with you beginning at 5PM with the pregame show. Note: You can also catch Bobcat football online at espnaustin.com or txstatebobcats.com.

In our next blog, we will run like the wind with the running backs.

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Written by Bill Culhane on 11:16 AM

Wanted: Fleet of Foot, Nerves of Steel

In 2011, a lot will be expected of the Bobcat cornerbacks in the 4-2-5. There will be many situations in which the corners will be locked up with a receiver mano y mano style. Multiple thousands of fans in the stands, all eyes locked on you, in the hip pocket of the receiver, here comes the ball…rinse…repeat. Sounds like a pleasant way to spend a Saturday? Oh, and by the way, in your “free time”, on occasion you will be expected to come up and take on a running back as he enters your real estate. Timid and passive need not apply.

Of course, Darryl Morris returns at corner after earning All-SLC 2nd Team honors in 2010. Pass defense, run support, Darryl does it all, along with being on the all-interview team. In part, Fall Camp 2011 was dedicated to identifying the other side along with cultivating the requisite depth. Corner, like most positions, requires a quality rotation to keep everyone on the hop. Even if you’re a Darryl Morris.

Others who project to contribute at corner are Derek Lopez, who saw significant action in 2010, and Craig Mager, a redshirt freshman who has surely impressed. Do you remember, wide receiver, Cedric Alexander? Now I present to you, cornerback, Cedric Alexander. Back in 2008, Mo Crosby converted from receiver to corner and it resulted in all-conference honors for the senior. Phillip Benning, who saw time last season, will also be a part of the equation. There are others who battled in Camp 2011 and could propel themselves into a role as the festivities move along.

Jason Washington, once upon a time a Bobcat who prowled the secondary with authority (when he wasn‘t manning centerfield for the baseball team), returns to Texas State to lead the cornerbacks. You recall that “J-Wash” was our cornerbacks coach from ‘04-’06.

Coach Washington likes what he sees in the CB group, “All those guys are doing a great job. We talk about being trustworthy, accountable…working and competing each and every day.”

He likes the leadership in his group, “Seniors Cedric Alexander and Derek Lopez have taken the reigns and have really emphasized the opportunity to work. They make sure every guy is giving their full one hundred percent each and every day.”

Coach Washington agreed that Darryl Morris is very good and added he has high standards for the Bobcat Junior, “I require of him to do more. We talk about win every drill…win every one on one that you do. Darryl has been focusing on that every time he is out there.”

We talked about corner responsibilities in run support, “You can’t just be a cover corner. You have to be physical and get involved in the run. We will blitz our corners, get them involved, stick their noses in the action.”

On Craig Mager, “He has done an unbelievable job. He’s taken great pride in his technique and just takes steps forward to be successful.”

Speaking of Craig, how valuable is a redshirt year? In my opinion, it is quite rare when you would suggest that a redshirt year is a bad thing, particularly at a position like corner, where one misstep in a thirty yard route can be costly.

Mager, from nearby Luling, talks about the value of his year off of the game field, “Definitely, the redshirt year was a good thing. I put on around ten pounds by working out in the weight room. My footwork was horrible, because I played offense before I came over here. It gave me a whole year to work on my technique.”

Craig chuckled and added how it helped with the books, “Ah, school!!! It’s good to have a redshirt year just so you can get used to the transition of going from school to football practice.”

Craig is playing for more than himself, “I’m really family-oriented. I have three little sisters, so I’m out here trying to “get it” for them.”

Of course, Fall Camp 2011 is now a memory. Brant and I joined Coach Fran to wrap up camp and discuss the building of the Bobcats, version 2011.

In the next blog, we review the other third, the Special Teams.

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Got Vertical?

Written by Bill Culhane on 11:53 AM

Got Vertical?

Take a glance at the calendar. Fall Camp 2011 is officially over, so you know what that means! My esteemed, maroon and gold brethren, it is Game Week! It seems like literally yesterday we were witnessing the Bobcat baseball team in the NCAA Regional...time flies.

As I think spread offense, the forward pass quickly comes to mind. However, make no mistake, the Bobcats are going to “pound the pavement” as well. That being said, let’s look at the Bobcat wideouts and tight ends who will catch and, rest assured, block in the Bobcat’s 2011 offense.

After Markee White put together his sensational 2005 season, we pondered how long it would be before another Bobcat receiver could approach, or match, his production. Cameron Luke entered the picture and constructed record setting seasons in ‘07 and ‘08. How long would the next wait be? Hello, Da’Marcus Griggs. In ’09 and ’10, Da’Marcus etched his name in the Texas State record books. Will it be a guy, or some form of a committee, who end up on the end of aerials in 2011? This question is just one of the reasons I’m excited about the upcoming season.

Coach Jason Johnson is the man tasked with developing and identifying the 2011 receiving corps. Coach Johnson, a former quarterback at Western Kentucky, is in his first year at Texas State. Note: Coach Johnson still throws a very good ball!

Coach Johnson recently gave us his overall evaluation of the receiver group, “We’re still building, still building the foundation of the core receiver group.” He continued, “We’re working together and communicating well. The kids have really embraced each other. We have a lot of different faces than we had in the Spring and everyone has joined in, and bought in….I couldn’t be any prouder as a group and as an offense.”

Expectations are a big part of any group or organization and Coach Johnson defined his expectations for his student-athletes, “This program is built on trust and accountability, first and foremost. They need to be accountable, not just here in football and the things we ask of them over here, but also on the academic side and socially.”

As a leading returning receiver, you would expect that Darius Bolden would be called upon to be a key contributor. Coach Johnson has been impressed by Bolden, “Special. Special kid on and off the field…a lead by example type of kid. Always does things the way you want him to do it…he is a kid who is special to me.”

Isaiah Battle, seen to the right, transferred to Texas State from Blinn College and is one of the newcomers Coach Johnson was referring to earlier. Battle is a physical looking football player, makes the catch, and projects to be a “hard guard” for opposing corners.

I asked Isaiah about the transition to this level, “It wasn’t really a major transition because we all have to play at a certain level all of the time. We have to go hard all of the time, as Coach Fran told us.”

Isaiah discussed how much of a help Darius Bolden has been to the receiver group, “Darius Bolden is basically the leader of the group. He knows the in’s and out’s of everything, so everyone goes to him if they need to know something.”

I asked Battle about receivers contributing with the run game, “Blocking is definitely one of the bigger things we emphasize…on the field at this level, we have to be extremely tough. You have to be just as tough as linemen or anybody on the field.”


If variety is indeed the spice of life, then the tight end situation at Texas State is hot. I have zero reservations offering that this projects to be the best tight end group I’ve seen in my time at Texas State. Transfer Chase Harper, who I saw play in high school, is the very definition of prototypical tight end. He can run routes, catch, block, and if you come up to tackle, you may want to snap on that chin strap. Talented, physical returner David Lewis and newcomers, i.e., Kyle Doll and Colby Goodwin also figure to be in the mix.

It's true! As I noted in a previous blog, we have a new radio home for Bobcat football! Bobcat football can be heard on ESPN Radio 92.5 FM, in Austin, or streamed on the internet at www.espnaustin.com or www.txstatebobcats.com. The one-hour pregame show will consist of the same elements you've become accustomed to: visit with Coach Fran, a Bobcat player, a Bobcat assistant, Voice of the Opposition, and much more. Each broadcast will conclude with a 15-minute postgame, including words from our head coach, Coach Fran.

I know you have your tickets. Do you know of any Bobcat friends, family members, or fans who don't have their's yet? Send them this link ...they'll thank you for it!

In honor of the season opener being right around the corner, we will visit the Bobcat cornerbacks in our next blog.

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

credits: Brant Freeman provided the pic of Isaiah Battle.

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

We have your back(ers)

Written by Bill Culhane on 4:59 PM

We Have Your Back(ers)

In case you just returned from an eight month vacation to Mars and your internet was down during your trip, the Bobcats are returning to the 4-2-5 defensive attack. Did I hear an “Amen!”? Emphasis on “attack”. During prior years when we’ve had the 4-2-5, linebackers like Greg Pitts (our
all-time tackles leader), Myron Coleman, David Simmons, Jeremy Castillo, etc., have feasted on the tackle and make a play opportunities out of this “linebacker friendly” scheme.

The formula is D-line fill and own your gaps, secondary shutdown the back end,
and linebackers let your mama and girlfriend hear your names on the public address system for four quarters. Everyone share the glory. I like.

To put it concisely, I'm excited about our linebacker unit. Guys like Bryan Iwuji, Brian Lilly, Josh Minde, and Joplo Bartu have played a lot of Bobcat football. Despite the fact that our defense is new to these student-athletes and a w
ork in progress, you can see from these guys that they were linebackers at birth. These four, and some of our newcomers, will make you keep your head on a swivel in ’11.

Brad Franchione was a two-time national champion head coach at Blinn, and will be responsible for the linebackers in his first year at Texas State. As most of you know, Coach Brad Franchione is the son of our head coach, Dennis Franchione.

Coach Brad Franchione gave this appraisal of our linebacker group in Fal
l Camp, “I’m very excited about their progress…I believe the four or five guys we’re going to count on this year are very smart about the defense, know what their responsibility is, and for the most part have executed well.”

Coach Franchione, at right coaching up the LB's, also offered why the 4-2-5 scheme is so good to linebackers for piling up the tackle numbers, “Coach Naivar (our d-coordinator) makes it real simple for us in coverage. So, we‘re not thinking a lot about what we have to do in pass coverage. We listen to the safeties, they give us a quick call, and we know exactly what we’re supposed to do…”

With Morrison, Thornton, Bailiff, Williams, Lundin, Langford, Clark, and others, the Bobcats have appreciated success in making it a family affair to suit up for Bobcat football. Many of you will remember that Wellington Deshield was a stalwart for the Bobcat teams from ‘04-’08. He requires no introduction, but I introduce you to his not so little brother, Joplo Bartu.

Joplo is intelligent, quick, and ends up near the football. In his first two seasons on the field for the ’Cats, Joplo has shown flashes of knock your socks off play (i.e., at SFA, circa 2010, wow!). Based on his progress through this Spring and Fall, I expect 2011 to be a constant beam of light for #31.

I asked Joplo to explain why he has shown continued improvement as his ‘Cat career moves along, “…it’s about learning the plays and knowing what you’re doing on every single play and busting your butt to be perfect out there every time.”

Joplo discussed the concept of preparation, “Summer workouts helped, got bigger, put on some pounds.” He added, “The film room works out too, watch a lot of film, know what we‘re doing.”

For our next blog, we head back to the offense with the wide receivers/tight ends.

We have a new radio home for Bobcat football in 2011! You can tune in for Bobcat Football each week on our flagship station, ESPN Radio 92.5 FM, in Austin. Brant and I will kickoff each broadcast with a one-hour pregame show and end with a 15-minute postgame, including a visit with Coach Fran.

Do you have your precious 2011 season tickets yet? Check this out.

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

credits: Brant Freeman provided pic of Coach Brad Franchione.

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill


To Serve and Protect

Written by Bill Culhane on 11:24 PM

To Serve and Protect

As the seconds continue to tick away, we will continue our preview of the various position groups as Kickoff 2011 approaches. Today, a quick glance at the offensive line. A coach once said to me, “In an offensive line, it’s got to be a unit. You can’t have five pennies, it has to be a nickle.” My money is on the Bobcats being improved up front.

You want an excellent football team? Make sure your offensive line play is top shelf. True story - the Bobcats have lit up scoreboards when the o-line has been above solid. The Bobcats obviously have an excellent starting point in three-time, All-SLC, honoree DJ Hall (35 career starts). There are a lot of good players who wouldn’t have stepped on the field with the health situation that DJ had in ‘10. My friends, DJ Hall was in the huddle! DJ understands fire, footwork and leverage as well as any Bobcat offensive lineman who I’ve seen. You can go to the BobCast from Media Day to hear from the Bobcat senior.

The Bobcats have a solid, veteran foundation when you also combine the likes of Steven Kenney (19 career starts), Mike Chambers (11 career starts), and Jon Vernon. However, as 2010 proved, depth is key and something the Bobcats are working to identify in Fall camp. Converted tight end Devin Baker, Thad Watkins, along with a few others, appear to be progressing nicely to me. Of course, the proof will be when the pads and tortillas start flying in Lubbock on September 3rd.

Veteran Coach, Dennis Darnell, who is in his first year at Texas State, is the architect of the offensive line. Think the man knows some football? Where were you when Coach Darnell started his coaching career in 1969?

After a slow start in Fall Camp, Coach Darnell has been impressed with the offensive line lately, “We’re getting more physical, we were soft to begin with.” Coach Darnell knows the offensive line has the physical tools and work ethic, “We’re pretty darn strong. Almost every guy in there benches 400 to 450 pounds, squats 500-600.” He continued, “They’re physically strong enough to do it. Now, we have to be confident and get off the ball and get it done.”

Coach Darnell discussed the depth of the offensive line, “Every team in the nation feels good if they have three backups that are as good as the starters. We aren’t quite there with that. We’ve really gained ground on that from where we were in the Spring. I think we will be at that eight-person depth, which is where you’d like to be.”

Mike Chambers has been one of the most pleasant surprises in camp. Mike has always been a good football player for the Bobcats, but has changed his body and challenged himself to raise his level of play. Hardly a practice goes by that you don’t hear Mike earning praise for his play. Strong, good feet, playing with a good motor and echo of the whistle attitude, look out for #55 in 2011.

Recently, Mike Chambers discussed the work that was put in during the offseason, “I took it upon myself that I had to get heavier, I had to get stronger. Last year I played at 280, so I put on about 15-20 pounds. I worked out with the other offensive lineman in the Summer…they were all in there with me, every day of the Summer, grinding, so I know they’re going to bring it too.”

Mike may have a future in scouting. I asked him if the high school talent is better in Texas or his native California, “I think we (California) have better teams, but Texas has better athletes.” Some nearby teammates (Texans, of course) gave “critical” reviews on his assessment.

You still have time to get your 2011 season tickets to support your Bobcats!

For our next blog, we go back to the defensive side of the ball with the linebacker corps.

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Fall Camp 2011 - Defensive Line

Written by Bill Culhane on 9:19 PM

Front and Center

Here is another installment with observations from Fall Camp 2011. A season ago, over the finishing five games in which the 'Cats were 1-4, the defense produced a combined two sacks and exactly 0 interceptions in the final match ups of '10. Those numbers came on 144 pass attempts by the opponents. This season, in particular with the resurrection of the 4-2-5 defense, the front 4 is going to be called upon to make plays, occupy blockers, be in the right place at the right time, and be the foundation for the defense. We've all seen what a Bobcat 4-2-5 defense can produce when the big guys up front are making things happen.

After an eight-season hiatus, which took he and his family to Sam Houston State and perennial FCS power Montana, Mike Hudson returns to San Marcos. As a matter of fact, this is his third coaching stop in San Marcos. Coach "Hud" will primarily coach up the defensive line.

Coach Hud described his expectations as follows, "I want our defensive linemen to be accountable to themselves, to their teammates, to their coaches..." In addition, he offered, "I think we need to continue to become stronger mentally and physically. We have to become a more physical unit and become more consistent. We are making progress."

As he discussed the X's and O's specific to the d-line, Coach Hudson said, "We have to control the line of scrimmage. We have to maintain gap integrity, our gap is our house. They (the rest of the defense) are counting on us to fit the gaps correctly so they can make their correct fits."

On yet another 100+ degree day, Coach Hud had a quick response when I asked him if it was ever this hot in Missoula, Montana. He grimaced and responded, "No, double No!"

Deshun Williams - A year ago, as a true freshman, Deshun played in all eleven games and ended the season with eight stops and a sack. He is expecting bigger and better from himself in his second campaign. "Bull in a china shop" is one way to describe the Bobcat's sophomore defensive tackle. Coming out of Carthage High School as a two-time state champion, Deshun had a reputation for being a defensive force; athletic, strong, quick...and some experience carrying the ball. Huh? Yes, Deshun was also known to carry the rock for the Bulldogs.

As far as camp up to this point, Deshun said, "Practice has been going good, we've been working hard." He addressed how last season's experience will help him in 2011, "It will help me with the game speed. I know what to expect when I go out there on the field."

When asked if he has designs on rushing the ball for the Bobcats, in addition to rushing the opposing quarterback, Deshun laughed and said, "No, not yet. Hopefully, we get to that, but not yet."

Adley Eshraghipour - The best way to describe Adley is "leader". "Unfortunate" has also been the case for the Bobcat defensive lineman. I would argue that his season-preventing injury a year ago was a huge part of why the Bobcat defensive front struggled at times.

After a breakout season in 2009, in which the then-sophomore received All-SLC Honorable Mention honors, big #94 missed all of 2010.

On his health, "I'm feeling great, the best I've felt in a while. It feels good to put pads on and I'll be ready."

On how things change for the defensive line with the implementation of the 4-2-5, "This is more of an attack style of defense. It helps a lot when you have d-ends playing beside you like Jordan Norfleet and Ron Jackson...the whole defense...it's going to be nice."

Programming note: Brant Freeman and I will be at practice Saturday morning to put together an expanded BobCast report on Fall Camp 2011. You can listen in to the podcast beginning early next week.

Are you as excited as me about the upcoming 2011 season? Give those vocal chords their final offseason rest, get your maroon and gold gear ready, and get your tickets today!

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Countdown to Kickoff 2011

Written by Bill Culhane on 9:35 PM

Countdown to Kickoff 2011

Along with the extensive coverage by the Sports Information and Marketing departments, Brant Freeman and I will be stopping by here, from time to time, to give our observations from Fall Camp 2011...Bobcat style.

A little over one week of Fall practice is in the books as the Bobcats continue to work out in the drought and record-breaking heat. As expected, there has been no drought in terms of competition for positions as the Bobcats prepare for the 2011 season opener at Texas Tech on Saturday, September 3rd. The rising tide lifts all ships and competition during practice elevates the play of everyone. At this point, the depth charts are in pencil so we will hold off on that topic for now.

Very early observations: We talked about it throughout Spring practice. Under Bobcat Head Coach Dennis Franchione and his staff, the practices are uber-organized and repetitions are precious and maximized. Every drill, station, period is “on the hop”. Having gone through Spring Camp, and now that the newcomers have a week under their belts, it is apparent that everyone knows the when, where, and why. Observing practice, I can’t help but think that this approach will help to slow down the game when the Bobcats lace ‘em up in real game situations.

In his big picture review of camp to this point, a focused and energetic Coach Fran said, “The guys who went through Spring practice had good retention and carry over which helps the newcomers learn...” “…the guys are in shape…which means we get more done in practice.”

In talking about the work done during the 8th practice of camp (Friday afternoon), Coach Fran noted, “We are fairly along in situations, today we worked on our 2-minute offense and defense. Most of our installation is in.”

Game program, get your game program! Coach Fran pointed out that there are some new names in the mix for valuable playing time. Specifically regarding the transfers, “I think there is a good number of the new group who will help us this year.” As far as the incoming freshmen, “I think it’s a little early to qualify any freshman on how big of an impact they will make yet…with the freshmen it‘s to survive the test of time, see the reps, and see how they handle things until the first game.”

Bobcat fans know that the Bobcats are returning to the 4-2-5 defense which yielded a lot of success for the Bobcats in years past. Defensive Coordinator Craig Naivar, who was the DC here from ‘04-‘06, returns to Texas State to orchestrate the deceptive, aggressive, attacking flavor of defense.

Senior linebacker Brian Iwuji recently pointed out that, regardless of the defensive formation, the basics for the linebackers remain the same, “It doesn’t really matter to us (linebackers) what style of defense we run, we are excited to do our jobs, be aggressive, and make plays.”

Offensively, like teams across the nation, the Bobcats have arrived at camp with questions to be answered. Two of the concerns centered around the health of sophomore quarterback Tyler Arndt, who reports, “I am at 100% percent”, and who will take over for record setting wide receiver Da’Marcus Griggs. The Bobcat signal-caller said, “It’s hard to replace a guy like Da’Marcus, but we feel like we have a bunch of guys who are working hard and can get the job done.” Both items are great news for ‘Cat fans who like to see pigskins fill the air at Bobcat Stadium.

I spoke with Chris Park, Assistant Athletics Director - Development, and he confirmed that all of the luxury suites will be occupied for 2011 and there are fewer than 75 club-level seats available! As Bobcat fans know by now, the Bobcat Club membership numbers continue to climb to new record setting levels on a daily basis. Join today and become a part of the invaluable team of Bobcat supporters.

Be a part of history. Do you have your 2011 season tickets yet?

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

Eat 'Em Up!

Bill

Ministers of Defense - All Time SLC Defense

Written by Bill Culhane on 6:27 PM

Ministers of Defense

Late last week, Brant and I released the Bobcat’s
all-time All-Southland Conference offensive team. It is now time, as Brant wrote, to “tackle” the defense. More than a coach or two has said, “You can’t lose if they don’t score.” With the way offensive football has evolved over the years, “three yards and a cloud of dust” and shutouts have gone the way of the dinosaur and leather helmets. However, history shows that the Bobcats have enjoyed their most collective success, during the Southland years, when the Bobcat defense has wreaked havoc on the opposing offenses. We all enjoy the points, but great defense has always been a key ingredient in “Light the star on Jackson Hall!”

Comparing players and defenses over the years isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples exercise. Sure, defense is always about assignments, alignments, and tackles. However, from 1994 through the earliest 2000’s, my initial years of following Bobcat football, the Southland was absolutely littered with premier running backs working out of the “I“, variety of two back, and option. Since the turn of the century, similar to football virtually everywhere, the SLC has added an up tempo component with multi-receiver sets, and expanded passing game. Remember 2009 when practically every team in the SLC had an elite passing quarterback? Heck, even Nicholls has scrapped the option-based in favor of the aerial…huh?

Regardless of the Southland team, points, passing yards, pass attempts, and completion % against have markedly climbed compared to ten years ago and prior (go to page 113). As always, coaches are looking for defensive players who can make plays to stifle the current attacks. The guys below would make plays on any day, in any era. Brant and I would stack up this Bobcat all-time All-Southland defense against any old, current, or future offensive system you concoct. As with the offense, here are our Maroon and Gold defenders going back to our entry into the Southland in 1987. Here, our friends in all things Bobcat, are your guardians of the Bobcat turf…

Note: Honoree (years lettered)

DEFENSIVE LINE

Travis Upshaw (’02 – ’05)
Clint Bendele (’96 – ’99)
Fred Evans (’04 – ’05)
Clenton Ballard (’98 – ’01)

Brant: Can’t go wrong with the two DT’s from ’05 can you? Fred and Travis were literally two big reasons why opponents averaged 3.3 yards a rush that season and just 122 yards/game (the TXST offense ran for an average 233 yards/game that year). “Double Nickels” was to the defense what Barrick was to the offense that season. Ballard is the only one of these players to be named as an All-American more than one season, and Bendele’s sack numbers are impressive. By the way, some great nicknames among this group…

Bill: Yes, clever monikers, but serious d-linemen. These hard hitters piled up the hardware. Now a Minnesota Viking, “Big Fred” was twice selected First Team All SLC and Defensive Player of the Year for the ‘Cats. He was the SLC Newcomer of the Year in 2004, SLC‘s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, and named to three All American teams in 2005. “Biscuit”, aka Clenton Ballard, was a two-time First Team All SLC pick in '00 and '01, Bendele in ‘99, and Upshaw (page 131) in ‘05. Good luck running between the tackles on these guys and you may consider moving the pocket around for your QB.

LINEBACKERS

Greg Pitts (‘99-’02)
Glen Mangold (‘86-’89)
Brad Fulks (’85-’88)
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Castillo (’03-’06), David Simmons ('03-’05), Chad Coleman ('89-’90)

Bill: Greg, simply made plays all over the field. Pitts was 1st Team All SLC in 2001, our all time leading tackler at 447, our two-time Defensive Player of the Year and is an obvious choice. A guy whose career includes 50 career QB hurries, 44 tackles for loss, and 18 sacks is playing defense for me. Speaking of tackles, Fulks, 1st Team in 1987, is right behind Greg in career tackles and has two of the top four single season tackle marks ever. Mangold, short for “Swiss Army Knife“, was a three-time 2nd Team All SLC pick at three different positions. You add Castillo and Simmons, a combined three 1st Team nods, and I’m thinking of a 3-4 defense package or two.

Brant: Remember what I said about the offense and that I was disappointed I didn’t see Claude Mathis play? Ditto for Pitts (page 16) who as you highlighted put up some gaudy numbers. A case can be made he’s the best defensive player ever to play at SWT/TXST (more on that in a moment). While neither of them played on a team that finished with a winning record, Mangold and Fulks sure gave Bobcat fans a reason to watch in the infant Southland years (late 80s). Not a bad 1-2 punch at linebacker rivaled only by Castillo and Simmons who were teammates from ’03 – ’05.

CORNERBACKS

Walter Musgrove ('03-’06)
AJ Johnson
(’85-’88)
Honorable Mention: Darrick Vaughn (page 142) ('96-’99)

Brant: Walter is one of my favorite players ever to play at Texas State. Great interview, hard worker, tremendous leader…just an infectious guy to be around. He certainly set the bar high for the position and I didn’t hesitate to put him up on this list. AJ is another player from those late ‘80s teams who could shutdown opposing WRs. Did you know that in the 1st three SLC years, the Bobcat defense posted two shutouts (just five since then) and held opponents to 14 points or less seven times?

Bill: For Walter, now an attorney/agent, I’ll let SLC voters, his coaches, and his teammates provide the testimony. Honored twice as 1st Team All SLC, in '05 and '06, and the ‘06 JC Kellam Award and Jim Wacker “Unbelievable” Award. He cracked the opposition and the books, witness four SLC All-Academic selections and the SLC’s Football Student Athlete of the Year in ‘06. I rest my case, your Honor. AJ is a great choice for the other side. He was a 2nd team All SLC DB in ‘87, but HM in ‘88. Why just HM? Well, he was busy earning 2nd team All SLC honors at wide receiver that season. He was also a top shelf kick returner…did he ever leave the field?!

SAFETIES

CJ Carroll ('97-’00)
Cliffton Black ('95-’99)
Honorable Mention: Epsilon Williams ('03-’06)

Brant: Remember the blurb on Pitts about the case can be made that he’s the best defensive player ever for the Bobcats? Meet CJ Carroll who played with Pitts for two seasons (’99 & ’00). Bill will get you all of the numbers and accolades on CJ, but I can tell you that he was the best defensive player on the 2000 team that went 7-4 holding opponents to 13 points or less four times including a shutout of Nicholls in the Southland opener. Looking at CJ, you probably wouldn’t think he’d be the force that he was, but his name is one you continue to hear when talking about best Bobcat players ever. So CJ, Pitts and Cliffton Black all played together? How many career tackles did they have combined Bill, 6,792?

Bill: Nobody has discovered the number to represent the tackles and plays those guys made. Usually, you hope walk-ons can contribute at some point. By the time he was done, CJ was pound for pound the best defensive football player in SLC history (insert serious face emoticon here). He ran under, over, and around opponents for 32 career sacks, most ever by a Bobcat. CJ was 1st Team All SLC in '99 and '00 and the no-brainer choice for Southland Player of the Year in 2000. Throw in 73 unassisted tackles in 2000, (foreshadowing), tied with Cliff Black for most in a season by a Bobcat. Speaking of Cliff, and homage to earlier nicknames, Cliff was “Tylenol“, due to the headaches he delivered. A second team All League pick in 1999, with him prowling in the secondary, the Bobcats had the Southland's best pass defense in '99. He was named Defensive Player of the Year for a very good Bobcat “D” in 1999.

KICKER

Andrew Ireland ('06-’08)
Honorable Mention: Ray Whitehead ('91-’94)

Bill: Once Ireland won the kicking job in ‘06, it was his for the duration. As 10-11 in 2006, 10-15 in 2007, and 14-17 in 2008 will attest to, the equation was simple: Ireland on + kickoff team get ready = put three on the board. He owns a school record-tying 52 yarder against Southeastern Louisiana. I recall fondly his 28 yard game winning FG at Northwestern State in ’07, with one tick left on the clock, that put a fork in the Demons. Ray Whitehead wasn’t short of ice water in his veins. His 36 FGs are the most in a Bobcat career. Against third-ranked Northern Iowa in ‘94, he kicked a game winning 48-yard field goal in the closing seconds at Bobcat Stadium. That was my first blessed taste of “unbelllievaaable”!

Brant: Automatic Andrew. His numbers are so darn close to Whitehead’s (Ireland: 34-43 on FGs, 117-119 XPs…Whitehead 36-45 FGs, 70-72 XPs), but like you, I cannot forget the Montana game. A Texas native (Cedar Hill HS) who started his career at Baylor, one would think the coldest conditions he played in was late November in Texas (in what, 65 degree temperatures?). The box score states the game day temp was 41 degrees that day, but it was wet and felt like 21 degrees on the field. He calmly nailed both FG attempts (47 & 25 yards) (:39 and 7:15 in).

KICK RETURNER

Karrington Bush ('07-’10)
Honorable Mention: Claude Mathis ('94-’97)

Brant: Ahhh the Ninja. Owner of two of the biggest plays of the year in the ’08 SLC Championship season, both in the same game. But without the first the second doesn’t happen (his 79-yard KO return for a TD when the ‘Cats were down 28-13 in the 3rd quarter in the final game of the season @ Sam Houston State, then scored on the option play on 3rd & Goal to win the game in OT). Every time the ball was kicked to him, you held your breath. Especially if you were the kicking team.

Bill: He did a lot as a rookie, but like Claude in 1994, Karrington locked up the 2007 SLC Freshman of the Year award through his ahhh-inspiring talent in the kick game. It isn’t common that a guy can rush and return for 1,000 yards. In 2008, “KB” returned an all-time SLC season high 42 kickoffs for a single season best 1,055 yards. My humble opinion, that kickoff return to paydirt at Sam is arguably one of the Top 5 biggest plays in Bobcat SLC history. Claude Mathis (page 127) in the Bobcat record books is like sand on the South Padre beach…it’s everywhere. This includes kick returns.

Alright Maroon and Gold faithful, let us have it. Did we get it right, almost nailed it, or did we miss by an Elolf punt? Email us at lightthestar@gmail.com with your selections and/or opinions.

Special thanks: John McElfresh, our esteemed and very talented Athletic Video Production expert, for his assistance. Of course, we also take our hats off and thank each and every Bobcat who has ever put on the pads and taken the field for our great university.

Reminder: Get your season tickets for your Bobcats and we will see you on Gameday!

Eat ‘Em Up!

Bill and Brant

Blogging Maroon & Gold (July 21st, 2011)

Written by Brant Freeman on 3:45 PM

Bobcat Fans and followers! Let the countdown to the 2011 Texas State Football season begin! Kick-off from Lubbock is just a little more than six weeks away, and I know many of you can’t wait. It’s worth noting that the Bobcats, while playing predominantly a Southland Conference heavy schedule, are NOT an official member of the SLC this coming season (football only). The reason being is scholarships, Texas State received 11 more than the limit for FCS schools (therefore gaining an “unfair” advantage) and will receive 11 more again for the next recruiting class bringing the total amount of scholarships to the FBS number of 85. As a result, the Bobcats will not be eligible for the SLC Championship, any SLC awards nor the FCS post-season.

This got myself and my broadcast partner Bill Culhane thinking back to Texas State’s time spent as a member of the Southland Conference and all of the great players to wear the maroon & gold uniform during those 23 years from 1987-2010. So we thought: “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to come up with an All-Southland Conference Texas State team?” And while yes, it was fun to come up with this list it wasn’t easy. There have been a lot of great players to play for the Bobcats during that time so some didn’t make the cut but Bill and I feel like we put together a pretty strong list and if you were to put this team on the field it would win a lot of football games.

This will be a two part blog and we’ll start by giving you our All-Southland Texas State Offense, next we’ll “tackle” the defense. Without further ado, here we go…

WIDE RECEIVERS (years listed are years player lettered)

Cameron Luke (’06 – ’08)

Da’Marcus Griggs (’08-’10)

Honorable Mention: Markee White, Eric Tennessee

Bill: Cam had arguably the single best season ever for a Bobcat wideout. He received 1st team All-SLC honors in ’07 & ’08 with numerous All-American recognitions. His stats alone make him a no-brainer. There have only been two 1,000 receiving seasons ever by a Bobcat…both by Mr. Luke in ’07 & ’08. His 32 career touchdown catches are the most in a career in Southland history, and 13 more than the next closest Bobcat (Johnny Parker had 19 from ‘69-’71).

Brant: Yeah, and 17 of those scores came in that unreal ’08 season from Cam. Remember how we thought no one will top him? Da’Marcus came close the following season with a single season school record 80 catches in ’09. Griggs was 2nd team All-SLC that year and followed it up with 65 grabs in 2010 and 1st team All-SLC honors. 154 catches is 2nd most in school history behind Parker and fell just 10 yards short of 2,000 career receiving yards.

Bill: That was the one thing that separated those two from Markee, Cam and Da’Marcus had two great seasons. Markee, who was instrumental in the ’05 run, had that one stellar season during the national semi-final season.

TIGHT END

Brian Forshee (’00 – ‘02)

Brant: This was a tough position to name a player for, simply because Texas State didn’t have many great pass-catching tight ends during the Southland years.

Bill: You may have thought differently had Forshee been able to play more. Despite an injury at Missouri early in the 2001 season, and a career cut short due to a coaching/offense philosophy change in 2003, Forshee was a legitimate downfield pass catching threat from the tight end position. Due to his blocking skills, was also an asset in the run game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Ervin Thomas (’88 – ’91)

Jeff Novak (’87 – ’89)

DJ Hall (’08 – present)

Adam Means (’94 – ’97)

Spicer Sigman (’90 – ’93)

Honorable Mention: Thomas Keresztury, Luke Horder, Ken McKoy

Brant: In this group, there are a total of 10 1st or 2nd team All-SLC selections, four All-American nods, one team Offensive Player of the Year honor (Novak ’89) and five Texas State top offensive lineman awards (Sigman was the recipient of the first two John O’Hara Memorial Offensive Lineman of the Year awards in ’92 & ’93, Means got the award in ’96 & ’97, Hall in 2010).

Bill: And we’ll get to running backs in a moment, but some of the great ones in Texas State Southland history have these guys to thank in part. Without Sigman, Means and Hall, perhaps Donald Wilkerson, Claude Mathis and Karrington Bush don’t put up the numbers they did. Oh, and Novak went on to represent the ‘Cats in the NFL for 8 years with the Giants, Dolphins and Jaguars.

QUARTERBACK

Barrick Nealy (’03 – ’05)

Honorable Mention: Bradley George, Spergon Wynn, David Williams, Gilbert Price

Brant: Most people would say this is a no-brainer and that Barrick is the best player the Bobcats had during the Southland era. One would have a hard-time arguing against that since Barrick was: so fun to watch (fast forward to the 2:21 mark), electric, a tremendous leader, likeable on/and off the field, and pretty much was the driving force behind the 2005 run. Here’s Barrick’s ’05 checklist: Finished 5th in Walter Payton FCS Player of the Year award, 1st team SLC and SLC Player of the Year…2nd team All-American and Hula Bowl invitee…Threw for 400 yards and ran for 126 in 1st Round Playoff win over Georgia Southern…School record 3,932 total yards…1,057 rushing yards in ’05 is most by any QB in a single season in Bobcat history (as well as his 13 rushing TDs). What…a…season.

Bill: Barrick’s ’05 was a season for the ages, but let’s not forget how Bradley George made this a tougher decision than we initially thought. Look up the numbers and you’ll see that Bradley’s passing numbers were better than Barrick’s, and he too led the Bobcats to the FCS playoffs, almost twice. Spergon Wynn was the Southland Newcomer of the Year in 1998 and, despite just two seasons in maroon and gold, his 3497 passing yards and 24 TD throws are each the sixth most in a Bobcat career. There’s a reason he got drafted by the Browns in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

RUNNING BACK

Claude Mathis (’94 – ’97)

Donald Wilkerson (’93 –’94)

Honorable Mention: Karrington Bush, Reggie Rivers, Lee Davis

Bill: Where to start when talking about Claude? If you let me, I could spend the next 1,000 words on the guy. Four-time All SLC selection - one of just five ever to be so honored in SLC history. Southland's Player of the Year in '96 and '97 - the only SLC player in history to be honored twice. Ended his career with the SLC's top two single game rushing records, top two single season rushing records, and the league's career rushing record with 4,691 yards. He reached the endzone 49 times, 17 of them in 1996!

Brant: The only thing I’m disappointed in when it comes to Claude is I personally didn’t get to see him play. The gap between him and 2nd place in the rushing record books at Texas State is insane. And those two single game rushing records you speak of? In the history of Bobcat football, there have only been two 300 yard rushing games, both belonging to Mathis (310 vs. SFA in ’96, 308 vs. Jacksonville State in ’97). Barrick may have had the best single season ever but Claude’s career is probably the best of any Bobcat in the Southland years and probably ever.

Bill: Speaking of single seasons, Donald Wilkerson’s ‘94: Named to three All American teams by rushing for an, at the time, SLC single season record 1,569 yards. Was First Team All SLC and Offensive Player of the Year in ’94. His 107.1 rushing yards per game in his career are the most ever by a Bobcat.

FULLBACK

Blake Burton (‘05-‘08)

Bill: Two time All-SLC pick was a freight train as a lead blocker and could also catch the ball out of the backfield (30 career receptions). Remember his TD grab and run at A&M in 2005? (1:04 into the clip)

Brant: Another position that hasn’t had a lot of “greats” outside of Burton who was one of the few players to be on both of Texas State’s SLC title teams. He was no doubt the best fullback for the Bobcats I’ve ever seen.

PUNTER

Cory Elolf (’03 – ’05)

Honorable Mention: Chris MacDonald, Paul Alsbury

Brant: The ‘Cats have had some pretty good punters during the SLC years, but the curly haired kid from Judson was the best. 1st team All-SLC in 2003, 2004 and 2005 earning 1st team FCS All-American honors in ’04 and is 2nd in school history in average yards per punt (41.9).

Bill: Don’t forget, only one other Bobcat player had been named 1st team All-SLC three years in a row other than Elolf (Claude got the honor four times). Who could forget Elolf’s school record 86-yard punt vs. McNeese in ’03? Alsbury went onto the NFL and MacDonald was REALLY good in another tough call.

Brant: No doubt, and there will be more tough decisions to be made for the All-Southland Bobcat Defense coming up in the next blog a few days from now so let the debate continue! By the way, would this offense even need a punter?

Eat ‘Em Up!

- Brant & Bill (Questions or comments? Shoot us an e-mail at txstradio@gmail.com)

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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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