Texas State was able to enjoy its final of three open dates last week, using the time to refresh physically, mentally and emotionally for its stretch run, which will begin Saturday with a visit to surging Arkansas State. There’s a lot on the line between now and Nov. 29.
The Bobcats hit the open date after winning three straight games and achieving bowl eligibility. While some coaches might have worried that the open week would interrupt their momentum, Texas State’s Dennis Franchione said his team will be better for the break.
“We had a stretch of five tough games in a row, and that took a toll on us,” Franchione said. “This is the time of year we need to be at our best, and having the week off will have us playing fresh and fast against Arkansas State.”
Texas State (6-3 overall and 2-2 in Sun Belt Conference play) used the time to work on things that needed to be cleaned up and refined.
“We’ve been sloppy on some things the past few games, and we’ve addressed those during last week’s practice and will continue to do so this week,” Franchione said. “There is no complacency among the players and the coaching staff now that we have six wins; everyone is still hungry to get better and play our best these last three weeks.”
Among the points of emphasis during the open week were tackling better and getting more defenders to the ball.
“We are ready and raring to go. We will have a lot of guys flying around and making plays against Arkansas State,” junior linebacker Michael Orakpo said. “Arkansas State is a team that gets a lot of yards after contact, and we can eliminate that by wrapping up the runner and getting more hats on them.”
The Bobcats control their own destiny. Wins in their final three games would give them sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt as well as the league’s spot in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 5. Winning two of the three games would probably guarantee a spot in a bowl, but winning at least one more game is an absolute must.
“If you would have told me before the season that we would already be at six wins just nine games into the season, I would have been surprised,” Franchione said. “The fact that we are where we are and that we have a chance to win even more games is a credit to how hard our players have worked.”
Notes: Linebacker David Mayo, the Bobcats’ fourth-leading tackler (55) despite missing the past two games with a knee injury, is expected to be in the lineup Saturday. … Texas State leads the Sun Belt in scoring defense (23.3 points per game), rushing defense (106.2 yards per game) and pass defense efficiency rating (118.4). … Place-kicker Jason Dann has made all nine of his field-goal attempts this season after booting a 42-yarder t Idaho. His four field goals against South Alabama on Oct. 26 are a single-game high and included the game winner as time expired. … The Bobcats’ Andy Erickson leads the Sun Belt in punt returns with an average of 13.6 yards after a 40-yarder at Idaho.
TEXAS STATE AT ARKANSAS STATE
6:30 p.m. Saturday, 1260, 89.9