Well, the opener in New Jersey didn't go to plan, but losing by 28 to a Big 10 team, well, Rutgers anyway, isn't a total loss. The Bobcats get Texas Southern in their home opener Saturday night. Everett Withers' ball club continues to try to pave a new path, and a solid win over the Tigers could help solidify this 2018 team's identity. Here are a few thoughts on the matchup.
You can be talented and dumb.
There's a saying; smart teams win, dumb teams don't. Texas State played dumb at Rutgers. The 'Cats committed 15 penalties. They accumulated more penalty yards than either rushing or passing yards, and they turned the ball over three times.
Texas State might be loads better than their 2017 version, but if they play dumb, none of that matters. Texas State will improve from week one to week two. Hopefully, that infers playing cleaner.
Texas Southern Isn't a Pushover. Sort of.
The Tigers are rebuilding, again, under Michael Haywood. Last season TSU finished 2-9, beating two fellow 2-9 teams in the process. To jumpstart things, the Tigers have taken in several transfers including former Tulane quarterback Glen Cuiellette.
Cuiellette threw for 235 yards in a win over UT Permian Basin last week. They also brought in UTEP back Kevin Dove, and Louisiana Lafayette Gary Haynes. Leading rusher Brad Woodward returns from 2017; he scampered for 80 yards against UTPB.
Texas Southern brought the legendary Morris Watts on to run its offense. Watts started coaching in 1961 at a Missouri area high school. Over his career, he's run offenses at LSU, Michigan State, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, and Mississippi State. He also had a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He coached with Haywood at Miami Ohio.
Linebacker Julian Marcantel is an active linebacker along with Patrick Howell. The Tigers rebuilt their defensive line this offseason adding a couple of JUCO players as well. Tarroll Stafford moves in at defensive tackle after transferring in from Coastal Carolina. Jimmy White at 6-4, 295 from Willis gives the front some girth as well.
And let's be honest, for Texas State, you can't take anyone for granted.
Figure out who you are
Knowing that Texas Southern isn't a cakewalk, the Bobcats aren't playing Rutgers this week, so it's a prime time to work out some kinks. The Bobcat offense devolved into letting Willie Jones run around to make plays. Jones carried the ball fourteen times, threw it 20 and generally didn't get much help or help himself.
The penalties, the turnovers all snowballed into another subpar offensive performance by the 'Cats. The Bobcats finished 1-13 on third downs, rushed for less than three yards a carry and completed just 40% of their attempts. It felt like 2017 all over again. Hell, it looked like it too.
Let's hope Jones makes a leap from week one to week two, and not just due to the lesser competition. He can start with no turnovers, but the real test is to see whether he can operate efficiently inside the Texas State offense and without an unhealthy dose of freelancing.