Everett Withers and his party in the endzone movement begins its second spring practice today. Hope springs eternal in San Marvelous. The Bobcats have a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator along with other shiny new things.
Here's what we'd like to see from Bobcat spring ball.
Offensive Line...No Seriously, Offensive Line
It doesn't take long when you watch Texas State's 2016 season to see that the Bobcat offensive line was ATROCIOUS. The Bobcats were dead freaking last in rush yards per game, rush yards per attempt, 124th in sacks allowed, and 126th in sack yardage. Bill Connelly's advanced line stats rated the Bobcats 124th in power success rate and 126th in stuff rate. ATROCIOUS.
On film the issues are even more evident, if that's possible. The Bobcat line was a turnstile, an expressway to the backfield. Line issues contributed not just to run game issues and sacks but also led to an offense that averaged just 6.4 yards per passing attempt.
So job one, even before Damian Williams et al, is finding five willing blockers up front. The Bobcats lose arguably their best lineman, Ryan Melton, to graduation. They also lose Nicholas Pletschette and Felix Romero, both of whom played significant minutes. There are some pieces to build around including starting center/guard Aaron Brewer who started eleven games as a true freshman. Brewer was thrown into the fire as a true freshman, not only starting at guard, but eventually moving to center. He gives Texas State some hope, but he needs some help.
Job one for the Bobcats is to find competent linemen to hold the line of scrimmage next fall.
Count us excited about the addition of Mississippi State grad transfer Damian Williams. We think he'll bring something to the quarterback position that hasn't been present in some time. Williams gives the Bobcats a true running threat and he's got a pretty big arm. We wrote about him here. He possesses good pocket presence and, if he keep his mechanics in line, he's accurate.
Williams will need to both be the man and stay healthy because there aren't a lot of options behind him. At this point there may be no other options. A&M transfer Janson Moore is on campus, but he was a walk-on at A&M who never saw the field. The only other quarterback on spring roster is Deer Park RS Freshman and walk-on Joseph Gonzales.
So it looks like it's Williams job almost by default. If his line can protect him at all, he should be more than competent at the position. This spring Texas State needs to incorporate him into the offense and keep him healthy. That second part might be way more important.
Bigger, Stronger on the Defensive Front
I still marvel at the fact that Texas State played a 235 pound freshman at nose tackle. Among the top four returning tacklers on the font three, none weighed more that 235 pounds in 2016. They Bobcats were undersized and inexperienced. The good news is most of those key contributors come back.
Hopefully those players will benefit from a full year in Aaron Burkart's offseason program. Players like Dean Taylor, who was listed at 230 in 2016, has exploded to 280 on the current spring roster. Ishmael Davis is up to 260 at the other defensive end position. Even the 235 nose tackle, Jordan Mittie, is up to 270.
Texas State will have an FBS sized defensive line in 2016. Randall McCray should be so excited. The 'Cats also add transfer Grant Lanza and RS Freshman John Lilly to the interior. McCray and co. will have some pieces to work with this spring and, hopefully, a pretty good idea of the fall depth chart.