Two weeks of Fall Camp are just about in the books and it’s at this time that fans want to know who’s having the best camp and what players to be most excited about. More often than not, fans are looking for new names as they know what to expect from the returning players and it’s just natural to be curious about the “new blood” with so much turnover from one year to the next in College Football.
Rest assured, the star players from a season ago, Craig Mager, Mike Orakpo, David Mayo, Tyler Jones, Ben Ijah, Robert Lowe, Adrian Bellard, etc. are all having solid camps and will all be leaned upon for big things in 2014.
So who are some unfamiliar names standing out in camp? Well, CB David Mims II (who did play last season but backed up Mager & Xavier Daniels), OL Ryan Melton, DE Kris Peterson, WR C.J. Best, LB Darnell Dailey, DE Jeff Banks and DL Will Trevillion have all been players that either the coaches or their teammates have pointed out as having strong camps or are much improved from this time last year. As far as true freshman are concerned, they are all getting in plenty of work but ideally the coaches would like to redshirt as many as possible this season (such as WRs Demun Mercer & Brice Gunter last year). But, as we have seen over the past few seasons, Coach Fran isn’t afraid to play freshman right away (Jones, Bellard).
So the question remains, who is having the best camp, and which newcomer can we expect to have a huge impact this season?
The answer to both is RB Terrence Franks. Franks, a senior, obviously isn’t a newcomer but let me explain. After an outstanding redshirt freshman year in 2011 (12 games, 8 starts, 863 rushing yards, 9 TDs), Franks hasn’t been the same the past two seasons (combined 24 games, 4 starts, 470 yards, 7 TDs). There are a few factors that come in to play, such as an increase in competition (Southland-WAC-Sun Belt) and positional competition (Marcus Curry, Robert Lowe, Chris Nuttall) eating into his carries. However, playing time is earned, and those players simply had better practices, camps and games than Franks, decreasing his workload.
That could change this season. While Robert Lowe (a Doak Walker candidate for nation’s best RB) will be the Bobcats’ first team running back, he carried the ball 164 times last year, which out of the 298 carries for the team’s backs comes out to 55%. Assuming that number will be close to the same in 2014, there will once again be an ample amount of opportunities for the bench. Chris Nutall had 83 carries to Franks’ 42 in 2013, but those carries could be more evenly dispersed this year based on what Franks has done in camp so far.
It seems that every day throughout camp that Franks is breaking off long run after long run, and everyone has taken notice. Co-Offensive Coordinator/RBs Coach Jeff Conway says Franks entered fall camp self-motivated and that he’s been working “like a maniac”, realizing that the end of his college career is coming up. Something else that Coach Conway and Coach Fran have pointed out is that Franks’ pass-protection has vastly improved, something that kept him off the field in passing situations over the past two seasons. So when I label Franks as a “newcomer”, it’s because we’re seeing a Terrence Franks we haven’t seen before at Texas State.
Other notes as the Bobcats approach the end of Week 2 of camp:
- Coach Conway says the no-huddle offense could be very beneficial for the team’s running game, with linemen paving bigger holes for backs to run through against a worn-down defensive front seven.
- The offense is really standing out at camp so far, and Coach Conway gives two reasons for that: 1) The offensive line is as deep as ever since the ‘Cats moved up to the FBS and 2) Tyler Jones has been outstanding. The best Fall a QB has had at Texas State in quite some time.
- The coaching staff wasn’t pleased with the play of the defense during Friday’s morning practice. 1st year Defensive Coordinator John Thompson says camp started well for the defense, but the entire unit has hit a lull and it needs to push through it.
- I asked Coach Thompson if communication is the issue (several new starters, new defensive coordinator) and he said it isn’t; it’s more execution right now. Specifically, missed tackles.
- When talking about defensive line, the biggest unknown going into the 2014 season, Coach Thompson harkened it to a “picture at the mall” (I assume he means those 3D pictures) where it’s not yet in focus. The staff is still piecing together the D-line depth chart, and we might see some moving parts as the season progresses.
Two weeks down, two to go until UAPB. Until then, we’ll keep you covered. Keep sending your questions and comments on Twitter with #BobcatAccess
Eat ‘Em Up!
Brant Freeman (@Brant_Freeman)