Texas State accomplished something last it hadn’t done since the 2014 season; the Bobcats won two in a row. They go for three against Appalachian State on Saturday. Here are three keys to another Bobcat win.
The Continued Efficiency of Willie Jones
The merry-go-round of quarterbacks at Texas State landed once again on Willie Jones and this time Jones too full advantage. Over his brief Bobcat career, he's shown the type of raw athletic ability to make big plays but last week he showed the passing efficiency to be a big-time quarterback. Jones torched Georgia State for 325 yards on 21 completions in just 26 attempts and most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. His 211.15 QB rating is the highest for a Bobcat starting quarterback since Tyler Jones afternoon against Prairie View in 2015.
If Willie Jones can continue to play in the same efficiency ballpark, this team can win two of their final three. If he plays efficient and explosive, watch out.
Slow Down the Mountaineer Run
Appy State is second in the Sun Belt in rushing offense, tenth nationally. The Mountaineers average over 5.8 yards a carry and rush for 252 yards a game. At the same time, they sit near the bottom of the Belt in passing offense. Quarterback Zac Thomas returns from concussion protocol this week, and while that should help the Mountaineer passing attack, they want to beat you up with the run first and foremost. Thomas’ return might help them in the run game as much as the pass as he’s a willing ball carrier, averaging 6.2 yards an attempt.
The Mountaineer offensive line is experienced, returning three All-SBC players from 2017, and they move teams off the ball. For Texas State slowing the run game, especially on first down is critical. On first down the Mountaineers average 5.6 yards a carry. An offense facing a second and five or less is situationally dangerous, with a full playbook at their disposal. If The Bobcats can force App State to operate behind the chains, they have a chance.
Strength in the Back
To help with that effort, Texas State can rely on an emerging secondary. JaShon Waddy, Kordell Rogers, Josh Newman, and Jarron Morris are establishing themselves as one of the better units in the Sun Belt. That growth has been the subject of manipulation and flexibility.
Waddy spent last year at cornerback before moving to quarterback the defense at safety in spring ball. Newman jumped into the starting lineup for the injured A.J. Krawczyk at strong safety and hasn’t missed a beat. Coaches tabbed Kordell Rogers as a game changer in the secondary and he’s living up to that potential, he’s also the ‘Cats fifth-leading tackler. True freshman Jarron Morris isn’t letting youth hold him back. He has great ball skills and is a thumper when he comes up in run support.
The emergence of young players like Rogers and Morris allow Anthony J. Taylor to come in at nickel and provide depth. The scary thing is all five of those contributors are set to return next season, and Texas State’s depth is young as well.