The Texas State Bobcats will begin Sun Belt Conference play a little early this season when they go on the road Saturday to face South Alabama.
While the Jaguars are winless in two games, the Bobcats (1-1) are fresh off a 36-20 victory over Texas Southern. Despite the win, Texas State coach Everett Withers said the team still needs to work on reducing penalties as it had 15 for 119 yards in the opener and eight for 70 last week.
“For the second week in a row, we’ve let penalties kind of stall drives,” Withers said. “I counted six drives that were stalled by a negative play or penalty that forced us to have to kick field goals. We’ve got to take ourselves off the schedule and not slow down our drives because we only hurt ourselves in that aspect. It hasn’t been our opponents; it’s been mostly us that have hurt us on offense.”
Texas State tight end Kennen Brown, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, caught seven passes for 108 yards and a 45-yard touchdown, leading the team in all three categories. Withers said getting Brown more involved is a big emphasis for the Bobcats after his breakout performance.
“When Kennen came available to us … we felt like when we watched his tape at Oklahoma State, we thought that he’d fit perfectly with what we’re doing,” Withers said. “That’s a quarterback’s best friend, a tight end that can stretch the middle of the field. We didn’t do the things we needed to in week one to get him the ball, but we did in week two. We need to continue to expand that.”
The Jaguars have played three quarterbacks in both losses this year — senior Evan Orth (started last week in a 55-13 loss to Oklahoma State), senior Cole Garvin (started in a 30-26 loss to Louisiana Tech on Sept. 1) and freshman Cephus Johnson. Orth has completed 18 of 31 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and Cole is 10-for-22 for 64 yards, one touchdown and two picks. Johnson is 0-for-4.
Withers said he expects all three to play.
“They are all talented, but they all have a different skill set,” he said. “We got to be ready for all three. They’ve also got real good running backs. Their skill positions are comparable to anybody in our league.
“The thing about South Alabama, I’ve watched them a lot this past year, and they are as talented as anybody in our league. I know they were up and down, but talentwise there isn’t a drop-off from the top teams in our league.
This will be the fourth overall meeting between the Bobcats and Jaguars, with Texas State holding a 2-1 advantage after winning the last matchup 36-18 in 2015.
South Alabama’s sole win over the Bobcats was a narrow 24-20 decision in 2014. Despite the Bobcats having a better overall record — 7-5 to 6-6 — that year and an identical conference record of 5-3, the Jaguars were given a berth in the 2014 Camellia Bowl while the Bobcats didn’t play in the postseason. The loss to the Jaguars and the bowl game being played in Montgomery, Ala., factored into the bowl snub for Texas State.
Texas State at South Alabama, 6 p.m., 1300