Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX
Kickoff: Thursday, October 10th 8:15 p.m. CST
TV/Radio: ESPNU/San Marcos: AM 1300, 930 AM, 89.9 FM. Monroe: KLIP 105.3 FM
Series Record: Warhawks lead series 11-4.
Last Meeting: ULM won in 2018, 20-14.
Betting Line: ULM, -3.5, o/u 60
I know it’s early and I know it may be surprising to fans outside of San Marcos and Monroe but the ‘Hawks and ‘Cats are actually tied for first in the Sun Belt West.
Actually no, it’s not surprising.
Louisiana-Monroe has grown leaps and bounds in head coach Matt Viator’s four seasons at the helm complete with a winning season last year and a run-pass option offense featuring a dual-threat quarterback.
Texas State garnered a lot of excitement with the hiring of Head Coach Jake Spavital. The hype of a new era in San Marcos and Spavital’s own enthusiasm has given the Bobcats exposure and and promise after years of futility. A Sun Belt win over Georgia State and a sound victory over FCS opponent Nicholls State have the Bobcats’ confidence high.
Monroe has had a pretty rigorous schedule so far in 2019 to say the least.
There three losses have come at the hands of some heavyweights. A close overtime loss against Florida State and two blowouts against Iowa State and Memphis.
But most P5 squads would struggle with that kind of menu and hats off to a Warhawks team who even in defeat showed that they could run the table in the Sun Belt.
Senior quarterback Caleb Evans is the main threat of the Warhawk RPO style offense. With a 62.3% completion rate, Evans has played lights out. With 1,172 yards passing and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions, Evans has a 140.0 QB rating and five rushing touchdowns, making him the most dangerous dual threat signal-caller in the conference. Last week against Memphis Evans had a season high 286 yards passing, 112 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.
In the backfield with Evans is the workhorse Josh Johnson. The junior running back has notched nearly 600 yards rushing so far in 2019 with four touchdowns and has tallied no less than 87 yards in his five games so far.
The ULM defense has struggled at times this year, allowing nearly 40 points a game and an average of 470 yards of total offense a game.
Donald Lewis Jr. has had a breakout year tallying a career high 4.5 sacks after moving from the interior to the end of the defensive line.
Linebacker Chase Day who leads the team in tackles-for-losses and is second in interceptions will miss this game with injury.
It seems with every week this season the quarterback situation has teetered among who should start — Gresch Jensen or Tyler Vitt. Jensen has started all but one game and technically is 2-2 and in the two-game winning streak Jensen has actually played pretty efficiently. In wins against Georgia State and Nicholls State he’s thrown 382 yards with a 2-1 touchdown to inception ratio with two touchdowns added on the ground. His foot mechanics are eh but as long as he can play mistake free ball he’ll keep starting. And this week he will.
After posting just 74 yards rushing and one touchdown as a team in the first three games, Texas State has registered 330 yards and four scores on the ground in the last two games.
Running backs Caleb Twyford and Anthony D. Taylor will need to keep pounding it out in order for the ‘Cats to succeed and if their o-line keeps progressing and Jensen can maybe add some running support they can be victorious.
The bye week gave the Bobcats some much needed rest. In the previous game against Nicholls potential All-American linebacker Bryan London II went out early with injury. Coach Spavital put the fears to rest when he confirmed about London’s status as, “He’s full go”.
The two most intriguing matchups will be:
- Caleb Evans’ ability to use his arm as well as his legs to catch the Bobcats off guard.
- A Texas State rushing attack that has found it’s footing in the last two weeks against a defense that’s given up 200+ rushing yards every game with a 6.0 yard per carry average.
Expect an exciting game like last year’s contest, complete with the conclusion coming down to the last drive. As an added bonus the country will get a glimpse of two of the nation’s best in ULM’s Caleb Evans and Texas State’s Bryan London II in this nationally televised game.
Gimme the 31-29, Bobcats victory.