Texas State fell 35-21 to the visiting Midshipmen on Saturday night in a game that could be described as a tale of two completely different halves. The Bobcats couldn't have looked much worse in the 1st half, but looked respectable after halftime. Here's a look at how the Bobcats performed on Saturday.
It's difficult to be too critical on Tyler Jones considering he accounted for 313 yards of offense by himself, but he'd likely be the first one to tell you that Navy wasn't his best game. He overthrew some wide open receivers, including Bradley Miller on the first drive that could've prevented a three and out.
Jones also made a wrong read in a 2nd quarter interception that set up a Midshipmen touchdown. Navy threw some aggressive and delayed blitz packages at Jones, and he occasionally looked flustered and had happy feet as a result. The sophomore quarterback made some plays with his legs and occasionally made some great reads, but he'll need to settle down and play with more precision against Illinois.
Running Backs: B
Robert Lowe and Terrence Franks didn't make any overly spectacular plays, but Lowe was able to move the ball for 5.8 yards a carry on 16 carries for 92 yards, and he also racked up a red zone touchdown. Franks also was able to slip by defending noseguard Bernard Sarra for a score on a seam route in the 4th quarter.
Each back averaged 13 yards a reception in the passing game, but with only five receptions between them that wasn't enough to break Navy's defensive strategy of containment.
Wide Receivers: C
A major bright spot: Teams haven't shown that they can stop CJ Best consistently on end around plays. Best is speedy and athletic, and by the end of the game everyone from fans in the stands to analysts on the radio were saying that he needs to get more touches.
Outside of Best, the receivers were a disappointment. Only Jafus Gaines was able to crack over 10 yards a reception, and he was limited to four receptions on the night. Dropped passes were once again an issue for this unit.
Tight Ends: B-
Bradley Miller was able to get a number of open looks under Navy's umbrella coverage, and as a result he led the Bobcats in receiving with 7 catches for 62 yards. His numbers could've been better if Jones hadn't overthrown him or took off too early in the pocket. Ryan Carden was limited to mostly blocking duties.
Offensive Line: C+
Tyler Jones was able to stay upright in the pocket and the running game was able to generate some offense, so the night wasn't a total loss for the big men up front. However, Jones did get pressured a few times into making some bad reads and it knocked off his timing. The first half was also marred by holding penalties that set some crucial drives back irreparably.
Defensive Line: D+
Karee Berry, Mershad Dillon, and Michael Odiari combined for 11 tackles up front. Linebackers David Mayo, Trey McGowan, and Stephen Smith combined for almost three times that many. That's not going to get it done against Navy's triple option.
Mayo did make some thundering hits and Smith, McGowan, and Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon stepped up to make some crucial tackles in Mike Orakpo's absence. However, the linebackers did miss some assignments that led to some big Midshipmen runs, including Mayo not accounting for the outside gap on Chris Swain's touchdown run.
The secondary tightened up pass coverage in the 2nd half until Jamir Tilman's 67 yard touchdown reception that was a result of Texas State leaving the deep left part of the field open, Germod Williams was able to get a last second jump on an underthrown pass by Tago Smith to nab a second half interception, Craig Mager had some solid sticks on run defense, and Colby Targun racked up a blindside sack on a safety blitz in the first half.
Beyond those moments, this was a bad night for the secondary. Mager got completely burned on a 6 yard touchdown pass to Brendan Dudek, and the Midshipmen more than doubled their average passing yards per game output with 117...with their backup quarterback. Yikes.
Special Teams: B-
Outside of Jason Dann's 32 yard field goal attempt somewhat inexplicably bouncing off the right upright, the ST unit didn't do anything too egregious. That said, they didn't do much to stand out either.
Navy's coverage unit kept Jafus Gaines and Brandon Smith at bay on kick returns, and Craig Mager wasn't able to get much going in the punt return game. Will Johnson did get a fantastic punt down to the Navy 1 yard line that eventually set up Texas State's next drive in Navy territory that eventually ended in a Bobcat touchdown.
There's no way around it -- the Bobcat staff got completely worked in the first half. Ken Niumatalolo and his staff had an answer for every in-game adjustment that Texas State tried to make and were able to implement their offensive game plan of "nick, nick, gash" to perfection. The endless stream of Bobcat penalties, regardless of whether they actually occurred or not, also put Navy in great position to take advantage.
Texas State's coaching staff made some solid adjustments in the second half to hold Navy scoreless in the third quarter and put together something resembling a comeback, but Navy's coaches made a knockout blow to said comeback when Tago Smith found Jamir Tilman with nobody around him as John Thompson and his coaching staff had completely sold out to stop the run.
Game Ball: Robert Lowe, RB. Lowe may not be overly quick, but he can make some nice moves and is very dependable.