Saturday’s Texas State-Houston game will be the third straight game that the Bobcats have been favored to lose by 20 points or more.
But unlike in those first two, Texas State will be playing at home and against a team that runs an offense comparable to its own, schematically speaking.
“I think our offenses are real similar; I just think they have more talent than we do right now,” Bobcats coach Everett Withers said. “I think we do a lot of the same things. I have an idea of what they want to try to do. The quarterback position is real important in this offense. They’ve got one that can run and throw it and does a really good job of operating their offense.”
Houston’s quarterback, senior Greg Ward Jr., is one of college football’s more dynamic players. He won last year’s Campbell Award, given to the top player from the state of Texas, after passing for 2,828 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 1,108 yards and 21 scores. He has been dealing with a minor shoulder injury, but the Cougars won’t rest him Saturday.
“It starts with the quarterback,” Houston coach Tom Herman said. “He’s a senior, and he’s playing pretty good. Similar offenses in terms of they are going to be spread, no huddle and up-tempo. They are going to try to run the football to set up the play-action pass.”
Texas State’s Tyler Jones, in his fourth year as the starter, had a big first game against Ohio — 418 passing yards, six total touchdowns — but went quiet at Arkansas last week, passing for only 83 yards.
Houston’s defensive front is one of the best in the nation. The Cougars lead the country in rushing defense, allowing only 38.3 yards per game, and linebacker Steven Taylor leads the country with 5½ sacks.
“They’ve done a really good job with their front seven,” Withers said. “They’ve got some very talented players up front and a very opportunistic defense when it comes to turnovers. That’s been their M.O. the last year and a half. I’ve been very impressed with them up front.”
Earlier this week, Withers said he thought having offensive line coach Adrian Mayes, who was on Herman’s Houston staff last year, is an advantage for the Bobcats.
“We are having to change every signal, call and check,” Herman said. “It’s a booger, because we are trying to get ready to win a game and yet we are having to spend this amount of time to mask what we are doing.
“Adrian wouldn’t be a good coach if he didn’t know what was going on. It’s not a matter of only changing the plays. It’s a matter of what we are calling our plays, how we are communicating and signaling them.”
No. 6 Houston at Texas State, 6 p.m., ESPNU, 1300