Texas State has put out their game release and depth chart (page 13 on the release) for Saturday's 6 pm contest in San Marcos against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Here's what the two deep looks like:
|QB||2||Tyler Jones, So.||
Fred Nixon, So. OR
Connor White, Fr.
|TB||28||Robert Lowe, Jr.||20||Terrence Franks, Sr.|
|WR - X||1||Ben Ijah, Sr.||88||Brice Gunter, RS Fr.|
|WR - H||80||Jafus Gaines, Jr.||9||CJ Best, Jr.|
|WR - Z||5||Brandon Smith, Jr.||10||Demun Mercer, RS Fr.|
|TE/Y||84||Ryan Carden, Jr.||14||Bradley Miller, Sr.|
|LT||64||Adrian Bellard, Jr.||70||Jackson Hoskins, RS Fr.|
|LG||62||Brandon Sarabia. Jr.||77||Felix Romero, So.|
|C||56||Matt Freeman, Jr.||50||Collin Fissell, Sr.|
|RG||72||Charlie Will Tuttle, Sr.||58||Zach Crawford, Jr.|
|RT||76||Ryan Melton, So.||73||Hayden Lambert, So.|
|DE||82||Kris Petersen, Sr.||57||Karee Berry, RS Fr.|
|NT||63||Dallas McClarty, So.||59||Dondre Elvoid, Jr.|
|DT||42||Mershad Dillon, Jr.||53||Will Trevillion, Fr.|
|DE||55||Michael Odiari, Sr.||93||Brian Guendling, So.|
|SLB||3||David Mayo, Sr.||40||Stephen Smith, So.|
|MLB||1||Michael Orakpo, Sr.||52||Trey McGowan, Jr.|
|WS||9||Aaron Shaw, Jr.||36||Thomas Luna, Sr.|
|FS||27||Colby Targun, Sr.||17||Damani Alexcee, So.|
|Rover/SS||12||Germod Williams, So.||7||Trey Garrett, Jr.|
|FC||22||David Mims II, Jr.||6||Brandon McDowell, RS Fr.|
|BC||25||Craig Mager, Sr.||23||Clarence Guidry III, Fr.|
|P||38||Will Johnson, Sr|
|K||48||Jason Dann, Sr.||38||Will Johnson, Sr.|
|LS||14||Bradley Miller, Sr||
Matt Freeman, Jr. OR
Thomas Evans, Sr.
|PR||25||Craig Mager, Sr.|
|KR||5||Brandon Smith, So.||80||Jafus Gaines, Jr.|
Here's a breakdown of each unit.
Eight starters have returned and the offensive unit is aiming to take a major step forward by developing something resembling a passing game to take pressure off the run. Here are a few changes worth noting:
- Ryan Carden getting the starting nod over Bradley Miller is somewhat surprising, as Miller was last year's leading receiver and 4th on the team in attempted targets. Carden can be a solid blocking tight end as well as a receiver, which may be an indication that Dennis Franchione and offensive coordinator Mike Schulz may be going away from last year's tight end safety valve approach to focus more on getting the wide receivers and backs room to run in this year's up-tempo offense.
- Running back Chris Nutall will likely still get a number of backup carries, but senior Terrence Franks has stepped up to take the #2 spot behind Lowe in the offseason. Franks was tabbed as an offseason standout in a recap of Day 17 of training camp, and they coaches will likely continue to use his speed to pound the rock and provide a vertical threat for Tyler Jones. Zone read play action calls are his specialty.
- Bakersfield CC transfer Brandon Sarabia won out over sophomore Felix Romero for the left guard spot, despite Romero starting all 12 games last season and leading the team with 33 knockdown blocks. The coaching staff tabbing Sarabia could mean a number of things -- Sarabia's talent level is that much better, he's a better fit for the up tempo offense, or Romero had a forgettable offseason. We'll see how many snaps Romero will get as backup come Saturday.
Multiple positions on the defensive line and secondary were up for grabs, and will likely continue to be fluid depending on game performance. That said, here are some of the storylines to note from the preseason depth chart.
- Senior defensive end and tight end convert Kris Petersen getting the nod over redshirt freshman Karee Berry may be the biggest surprise on the two-deep, as Berry was getting mentioned by both the coaches and local media as a standout in fall camp. Petersen's experience presumably won out in this case, but Berry should still presumably see a number of snaps as a backup.
- The starting depth at defensive tackle has been rightly tabbed as a cause for concern, but the backup depth in the secondary is downright nervewracking. The backup options are two true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, a sophomore who had an inconsistent fall camp and lost a likely starting spot to a JUCO transfer, and a senior safety who only saw significant time on special teams last season. Texas State's bowl hopes could hinge on the starters staying healthy.
- Dallas McClarty claimed the nose tackle spot early on in fall camp, leaving three players to fight for the remaining spot at defensive tackle. JUCO transfer Mershad Dillon emerged above the other two late in camp with more appearances on the first team line than the others.
Not much has changed here, and for good reason: the special teams unit was good for helping Texas State win field position battles and was a big difference in the win over South Alabama.
- Jason Dann still has an iron grip on the placekicking spot because of his accuracy, while Will Johnson will still handle kickoffs and punts with his powerful leg. Brandon Smith and Jafus Gaines remain a potent one-two punch at kick returner.
- The two positions up for grabs this fall were deep snapper and punt returner, so we'll see if tight end Bradley Miller and cornerback Craig Mager can be consistent at their respective positions. Mager has experience as a punt returner from 2012 and 2013, and although his hands weren't as consistent as Andy Erickson's last year he still is elusive and can be a major return threat.