Texas State and SMU meet up in Dallas for their second ever contest. SMU holds a 1-0 lead over the Bobcats. We’ll see if they can continue their winning streak or if Texas State can start one of their own.
When Texas State has the ball…
The Bobcat offense continues to evolve. Last week after jumping out to a fourteen point lead, the ‘Cats struggled to create any buzz with the ball. That said, Gresch Jensen threw for 394 yards in the loss, making his first start as a Bobcat.
When Jensen throws, he’s going to look for Hutch White, his favorite target. White leads the Bobcats with seventeen catches thru two games. Sophomore Tevis Graham is second with nine. Jeremiah Haydel, who caught four touchdowns and averaged 20.3 yards per catch in 2018, is trying to get on track. Redshirt freshman Jah’Marae Sheread is the Texas State big-play threat so look for Jake Spavital to get the ball into his hands whether by the quick passing game or in the return game.
Through two games the Bobcats average less than two yards a carry, if you take sack yardage out of the equation, the numbers are better, but the Texas State offense abandons the run rather quickly. Two weeks in and the Bobcats are allowing four sacks per game. That’s bad news considering SMU Defensive Coordinator Kevin Kane is known for dialing up pressure. The Ponies average 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Delontae Scott is off to a great start with 4.5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks. The SMU linebackers have stepped up with the addition of former safety Patrick Nelson to the group. He and Richard Moore give the Ponies flexibility in their coverage options and speed to close distance.
Last week thanks to a combination of pressure and coverage, the Mustangs stymied a potent North Texas offense. Now they’ll dial up the pressure to deal with Texas State. I’m interested to see if the Bobcats have more patience with the running game. Last week, in the second half of a one-score game, Spavital ran on seven of 39 snaps - just 17% of the time.
When SMU has the ball…
Safe to say SMU’s offense benefits from several things, Shane Buechele at quarterback, an improved running game, and two of the better receivers in the college football. The Mustangs jumped all over North Texas in a rivalry game last week (don’t tell SMU).
Buechele, thru two games, is just one yard behind his former Longhorn teammate in passing yards per game while completing 63% of his throws. His completion percentage is an eight-point improvement over last season’s starter. SMU’s rushing game averages nearly a yard better than 2018’s mark with Xavier Jones getting back on track with a 5.4 yards per carry.
Texas State will need to account for Reggie Roberson and James Proche on every play. The two combine for 31 catches and three touchdowns so far. The Bobcat pass defense is currently ranked 32nd in the FBS, a number that should give ‘Cat fans confidence that SMU won’t run this unit out of the stadium. Texas State can man cover with several combinations of their safety and corner depth.
Jashon Waddy, Jarron Morris, and Kordell Rogers lead as experienced a backend as there is in the Sun Belt. Bryan London and Niko Daniels continue their tackling production from recent seasons. Where the Bobcats need to improve is with their pass rush. They’ve accounted for just one sack this season and a minuscule four tackles for loss.
I can’t wait to see this matchup, as SMU’s offense is playing at a high level and faces off against one of the overlooked defensive units in college football. SMU will throw haymakers from the opening minutes, using their vertical passing game to try and knock Texas State off balance and introduce doubt. If the Bobcats can hold up early, on this side of the ball, the Ponies won’t have a cakewalk. The issue is, if this game gets into the mid to upper 20s, the Texas State offense can’t keep pace.