After a disappointing start, the Texas State carousel is back, running in circles, taking us all for a ride. This week Georgia Southern comes to San Marcos on Thursday night in a Sun Belt game. Give us a little room on this one.
Meet Georgia Southern
We’re going to talk about culture here in a second, skip ahead or close the browser window depending on your pain threshold.
The Eagles are 4-1, their one loss came to Clemson. They’ve won over South Carolina State, UMass, Arkansas State, and South Alabama.
Funny thing about the Eagle program, it has a history and intrinsic connection with the option offense. Tyson Summers came along and tried to change the Georgia Southern culture, modernize the Eagles, and bring them into the 21st century. That lasted eighteen games when Southern fired him midway through last season. Georgia Southern has a formula and a culture. It’s a formula that made them one of the best I-AA/FCS teams in college football.
The Eagles’ physical, option-based offense became a calling card. After Summers ouster, Georgia Southern when to Chad Lunsford and apparently fired some pointed questions at Chad about his offensive preference because he’s running an attack that suits the Eagle faithful’s pallet.
Georgia Southern is a hit you in the mouth running team. They’ll run the ball 87% of the time. Higher than Army, Navy, Georgia Tech or any other team in the FBS. They are a one trick pony; they have an identity. They rush for the seventh most yards in the FBS. They run, on average 58 plays a game, the fewest in the FBS. You know what you’re going to get. Good luck stopping it.
You Already Know Texas State…
So what does Texas State do well? We’ll wait. After two and half seasons, what are the Bobcats known for? What is their winning culture based on?
If you answered horizontal passing and horrible 3rd down defense, you’re close.
Withers came to San Marcos pushing a high powered, high pressure, quick-strike offense, and the now infamous #partyintheendzone. The party never happened, and neither did the high powered offense. The ‘Cats are in their typical, now cultural position in 2018, ninth or worse in the SBC in total offense, eight or worse in rushing offense, awful on 3rd down. Defensively, Texas State's defense is average to below average, though the ‘Cats have made incremental improvements.
In three seasons the offensive line is still turnstile, the running game is non-existent, and the Bobcats haven’t developed a reliable passer.
Now the Bobcats turn to Tyler Vitt, a true freshman who made an impressive debut against Louisiana Lafayette. Correction, an impressive second half against Louisiana Lafayette. Vitt went 19 of 21 for 224 yards in the second half with three touchdowns. His performance was the most impressive for a Texas State quarterback in the Withers tenure since Tyler Jones opener at Ohio.
We’ll see whether Vitt can build on that performance against Georgia Southern.
What we’d like to see is Texas State open up the offense, use Keenen Brown and the middle of the field in the passing game and try to limit hits on Vitt. If Vitt goes down, Texas State’s offense will have to go through another change in approach. The Bobcats can’t afford to waste another half of football. Georgia Southern won’t give Texas State enough possession or time to make up any significant deficit.
Defensively, Georgia Southern has to play ahead of the chains, so Texas State will need to play well on first and second down. The Eagles run the ball 50 times a game, that’s at least eleven times more per game than any other opponent.
Safeties Jashon Waddy and Josh Newman will have a different grocery list of assignments than most nights, and everyone will have to play their assignments.