The Roundup Signal Caller Throwdown series looks at the most important position on the field for some of the Roundup's 12 FBS programs, complete with bad excel graphs. Today Texas State's three year starter Tyler Jones.
Tyler Jones was a signature recruit for Dennis Franchione and Texas State in 2013. Now as a senior with three years of starting under his belt, Jones' legacy comes down to one season, one last chance to get Texas State to a bowl game. He'll do it with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, and a new scheme. We think the new stuff will help Tyler Jones, but how much? Let's start by looking back, way back.
Jones comes from a cradle of high school quarterbacks, Stephenville. Kevin Kolb, Jevan Sneed, Brandon Stewart, Kelan Luker, Kendall Briles and Jarrett Stidham all played quarterback at Stephenville in the past 25 years. They were coached by guys like Art Briles and Chad Morris. It's THE QB High School in Texas. Among those giants Jones is second in career passing yards and touchdowns in school history and first in passes completed. In his senior year, Jones led the state in All-Purpose yards with 5,017 - more than Kenny Hill, Greg Ward Jr., and Desmon White. Jones ended his senior year with 43 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions and accounted for 556 total yards in the Yellowjackets' 2012 state title game. He was a big time talent.
On his arrival in San Marcos, three games into his freshman year, Jones started his first game against Wyoming and led the Bobcats to a 42-21 win while completing 14 of 18 passes with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran for 56 yards. That debut propelled Jones to an excellent freshman season, completing 62% of his passes in seven starts. The Bobcats went 6-6 in 2013 and Jones played a big part in their success.
Heading into his sophomore year as the starter, Jones had a career year (that's part of the problem). Jones completed 65% of his passes with 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Jones was named All Sun Belt by several publications. His completion percentage set a school record. His 22 touchdowns are third most in Texas State history. He added six touchdowns on the ground. Jones threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns against the Big 10's Illinois. Jones' completion percentage and interception rate ranked above the 80th percentile nationally among all quarterbacks with 100 or more attempts. Jones' 539 rushing yards ranked in the 86th percentile. Jones was an effective true dual threat quarterback in his second season as a starter and the Bobcats were 7-5.
Then came 2015.
You never assume development. Everyone has a ceiling. Some quarterbacks hit that ceiling in 7th grade. Some can't get off an NFL practice squad. Trend lines will always level off. Then drop. Never assume development.
Tyler Jones hit a wall in 2015. There are a lot of factors that could have led to the wall, a coach who loses a locker room, antiquated schemes, injury, poor supporting cast, maybe you just lose it. Whatever the reason, Tyler Jones regressed in 2015. His completion percentage dropped to an all time low, four percentage points lower than his freshman season. Jones went from an above average passer in terms of accuracy to a below average passer. Jones threw more in 2015 than in 2014 but for fewer yards, fewer touchdowns, and more interceptions. Jones was actually sacked 8 less times in 2015 than 2014. His yards per attempt fell to an all-time low. Worse, Texas State went 3-9. Still, Sun Belt coaches named Jones to the Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt team.
Fran was fired. Everett Withers was hired. A new offense was installed - guaranteeing parties in the end zone and a new graduate transfer from an SEC school came to San Marvelous to challenge Tyler Jones' job. It's pretty much a crossroads, all or nothing season for Jones. The good news, we know Tyler Jones can be very good, the bad news, we're a full season away from seeing it.
If Jones can hold off Missouri transfer Eddie Printz, this offense may be uniquely suited to him. Withers and offensive coordinator Brett Elliott promise a fast paced dynamic offense, less the blunt force spread that Franchione advocated, but one more akin to the Tech/Baylor versions. It's an offense similar to what Jones oversaw in high school and Elliott likes a dual threat trigger man. Elliott's James Madison attack averaged 44 points and 528 yards per game in 2015.
Tyler Jones could leave a significant statistical mark at Texas State. Jones already ranks second in pass completions and completion percentage in Texas State history. He's fourth in yards, touchdowns, and attempts in Bobcat history.
For Texas State to move forward under Withers they'll need consistency and accuracy from the quarterback position. Whoever the quarterback is, they'll have a raw offensive line and new skill unit to contend with. Was Tyler Jones' 2015 a blip, a plateau, or a wall? 2016 will answer that question. A new scheme and a new coach will give him the opportunity to return to form and end his career on a high note.