Date: Saturday, September 15, 2018
Kickoff Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
Location: Ladd–Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
All-Time Series: Texas State leads the series, 2-1
Last Meeting: 2015, TXST 36 USA 18
Betting Lines: South Alabama -10.5 , O/U 49.5
It’s always a treat to get an early conference game and this one in particular will attest to how this match up will prove to be a proverbial litmus test for both programs.
On one hand you have the third year coach of Texas State Everett Withers who so far this year has had the Bobcats perform in predictable fashion. A loss against a P5 program and a runaway victory against an FCS opponent. Aside from the opening day shootout win against Ohio in 2016, Texas State is still looking for that signature win in the Withers era and faces an unfamiliar conference foe who odds makers have as a double-digit favorite.
The other hand holds the Jaguars’ and their head coach Steve Campbell. Coach Campbell has had success at Division-II Delta State capturing a national championship in the two-triple zero and notched two playoff appearances at FCS Central Arkansas. In his first year in Mobile Campbell is winless in two games but not in horrible fashion, as his Jaguars were edged out by four points to a very talented Louisiana Tech team and blown out like Chaka Khan’s hair circa 1981 by the mullet-commanded Cowboys of Oklahoma State.
Texas State has been stockpiling talent and trying to rebuild the program while South Alabama is looking for an identity.
So take my strong hand and lets rifle through this preview.
When I said South Alabama was looking for an identity I meant it. The Jaguars have marched out three quarterbacks in the first two games and they aim to continue this trend against Texas State. This Cerberus-style attack has seen Cole Garvin start against LaTech and Evan Orth getting the nod against OK State. To complete the hagia triada is redshirt freshman Cephus Johnson.
Has this strategy worked so far? Well, it’s more of a in-season tryout to see who can lead the Jags under center for the rest of 2018.
“I would love for one of them to step out and really be the guy, and it will be very obvious who that guy is,” Coach Campbell exclaimed at a recent presser.
Combined South Alabama is only averaging 113.5 yards in the air a game and considering how many big plays Texas State’s secondary gave up to Texas Southern the time and opportunity may be now for one of those three signal callers to step up and take the reigns.
The other signal caller is this match up is the sophomore Willie Jones III. WJIII had his best performance last Saturday against Texas Southern. 62.1% completion, 107 rushing yards, his first collegiate touchdown and most importantly his first win as a starter.
I racked my brain to find more topics that are specific to Jones III that can be relevant to a proper analysis and review. But you know, we’ve all seen what Jones can bring to the table with flashes here and there but he finally put together a complete game. There were some areas that could use some improvement and yes he did run for over a hundred yards against an FCS defense (don’t you dare discount the hard work of young college athletes no matter the division) but he got the job done when he was expected to.
Much like South Alabama’s passing attack can wreck the Texas State defense we flip over to the other side of the coin and see how an offense who dropped 500-plus yards can run wild over a Jaguar defense that has allowed over a thousand yards of total offense in two games along with a healthy 4.3 yards a rush and 85 points in that span.
For Texas State to not only succeed but to progress WJIII will need to have a well balanced game against a defense he and the Bobcats have the tools to put the Jags away.
Getting the @TXST_FootballEQ Truck loaded and ready to head to Mobile, Alabama to face @GoJAGSFootball for our conference opener! Take a peek at what threads your @TXSTATEFOOTBALL team will be wearing this Saturday!#PUSH #EatEmUp pic.twitter.com/Ny0PGl1tpi— TXSTATE Equipment (@TXST_FootballEQ) September 13, 2018
Area For Improvement
We start with the Texas State offense who throughout the win against Texas Southern had more stalls than a Buc-ee’s bathroom.
“We’ve only hurt ourselves in that aspect”, said Texas State head coach Everett Withers. “It’s been mostly us that’s hurt us on offense. It hadn’t been our opponents.”
Many a drives ended with kicker James Sherman knocking field goals through the uprights whether it was a Willie Jones pass errantly flying toward a receiver because the line collapsed or a run play called that wouldn’t make a first down even if you had Larry Allen and Lou Ferrigno blocking for the runner.
Sherman’s ability to be automatic on fourth down is an awesome weapon if the time calls for it but to beat the upper echelon of the Sun Belt the Bobcats need to convert and get them six points.
It’s gonna be a cat fight (haha) between two Sun Belt teams searching for answers in a conference crawling with contenders. Both teams have the talent and the ability to make a statement in this game but it’s gonna come down to who can overcome their disadvantages.
Give me Texas State 28-24.