On a Saturday where upsets, hail marys, and general wackiness reigned supreme and nothing made sense, the Texas State Bobcats and Idaho Vandals did their best to contribute to the chaos as 2nd string running back Terrence Franks propelled the Bobcats to a bizarre 35-30 win. The amazing performance of Franks and a bend but (mostly) don't break defense preserved the victory for Texas State despite the Bobcats almost giving up a 21-3 halftime lead.
The Superhuman Performance of Franks
Terrence Franks, who was mostly bottled up until the overtime periods against Tulsa last week, went absolutely berzerk on the Idaho defense en route to a jaw-dropping stat line:
15 carries. 284 yards. 3 touchdowns. 18.9 yards per carry. Touchdown runs of 95, 70, and 70 yards. Here are links to the first, second, and third touchdowns, because you should watch them. He also broke the school record for the longest touchdown run in school history with the 95 yarder.
Give the man a helmet sticker and a Sportscenter top 10 appearance already.
Bent, But Not Broken (Barely)
On a night where the Texas State defense probably would've given up 5 yards a carry to San Marcos High School, Idaho decided that giving Matt Linehan 52 passing attempts was a good idea. Linehan did throw for 347 yards, but he never found the end zone once and threw two backbreaking interceptions to Germond Williams, once in the end zone and once on an overthrow on Idaho's final drive of the game to seal the loss for the Vandals.
Meanwhile, the Idaho rushing attack exploded past its usual average of 64 yards a game to gain 176 net yards. Kris Olugbode and Aaron Duckworth averaged 6.2 and 5.3 YPC, respectively. David Mayo did his usual impressive part with 16 tackles, but the d-line got blown out of the water when trying to defend the run.
Given the massive disparity in time of possession and the sheer number of plays Idaho ran (more on that in a second), it's a minor miracle that Texas State held Idaho to 30 points despite giving up 523 yards. Germond Williams's two massively important interceptions played a major role there, but the Bobcats were also able to sack Linehan a staggering number of times. How many times, you ask?
Credit to Craig Mager and Michael Odiari for causing Linehan some absolute terror off the edge. That said, Idaho moved the ball down the field slowly and methodically when their quarterback wasn't getting smacked around.
Time of Possession Disparity
So how do any of the numbers I just noted above make sense? Quite simple: An incredible disparity in time of possession. Texas State's four turnovers, Terrence Franks's three touchdowns, and a general lack of production on offense outside of Franks led to some of the shortest Bobcat drives you'll ever see.
Idaho had the ball for an absurd 41:12 of the game, meaning Texas State only held the ball for 18:48. Idaho also ran a staggering 105 plays to Texas State's 58. The Bobcat defense didn't always look great--they started missing some easy tackles in the third quarter--but all things considered they put up a heroic effort despite being completely gassed in the 2nd half.
Turnovers and Other General Weirdness
About that whole "turnovers aren't a problem" statement: After only committing three turnovers through four games, the Bobcats gave it up four times tonight. Demun Mercer coughed up the ball after hauling in a strike by Jones on the first drive of the game. Craig Mager looked to finally be driving a long punt return into Vandal territory, but then a slight bump popped the ball out of his hands and into the arms of a shocked Austin Rehkow.
Tyler Jones also had a less than stellar night as his accuracy was off and he made two bad reads for interceptions, including a needless bomb in the third quarter into double coverage when the defense was badly needing a rest. Jones looked the most ineffective he's been since playing with a broken hand against Western Kentucky, although he did manage to plow 27 yards through a hole the size of San Marcos and dive into the end zone late in the 4th. Aside from that run and a dump off to Bradley Miller right before halftime, he'll want to just move on from this game.
Tonight was also a night to forget for the coaches, as they didn't respond to the tempo of the game. Despite the defense being completely gassed in the 2nd half, the coaches refused to slow the up tempo offense until late in the 4th quarter and left their defense out to dry as a result.
Tonight was finally the night to go with conservative run calls in the third quarter to rest the defense and preserve the lead, and coaches Schulz and Franchione tried to air it out instead. Then, when they finally tried to run the clock out, Idaho easily sniffed out what was coming. A couple of unimaginative dives on 1st and 2nd down on Texas State's final drive were easily stuffed by Idaho, who forced a 3rd and long and an eventual punt to give themselves fresh life.
Idaho fans will say that they should've converted on a few turnovers and red zone visits, and that they had a good chance to win. Texas State fans will say that the Bobcats had (once again) plenty of chances to blow this one open and failed to do so, and outside of Franks and some defensive stands they didn't play very well. Both perspectives are correct.
Idaho should have a shot at a win or three later on this season, but they'll need to figure out a way to take advantage of gift-wrapped opportunities such as those that the Bobcats handed them tonight. Texas State, meanwhile, will need to play much better in a Tuesday night game against ULL on ESPN2.
Game Ball: Terrence Franks, RB, Texas State (as if there was any doubt)