Texas State’s spring game offers Withers last chance to evaluate

Texas State’s annual Maroon and Gold spring scrimmage Saturday will pit the offense against the defense in a four-quarter matchup that’s open to fans. But for head coach Everett Withers, it’s nothing more than “practice 15” and his last chance to evaluate players before summer break.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we get some guys in the second groups looked at more, give them an opportunity to practice more against some of the good competition,” Withers said. “We don’t have enough bodies for everybody to practice against good guys. I think our objective is to try and find out if some of the guys in the second group can play.”

There will be three quarterbacks for the spring game — Damian Williams, Joseph Gonzales and Michael Ross; Janson Moore, a walk-on transfer from Texas A&M, quit last week. Three incoming freshmen (Jaylen Gipson, Kishawn Kelly and Willie Jones III) will join the team in June.

Moore is the second walk-on quarterback to leave; former Kansas quarterback Dagan Haehn quit before spring practice.

Williams, a graduate transfer from Mississippi State, is the Bobcats’ presumed starter.

Williams “is a guy that’s not afraid to take chances and make a mistake,” Withers said. “He’ll throw the ball deep. I’ve seen more deep balls since I’ve been here. He’s got a long way to go, though, and we’ve got some young guys coming in that I think will challenge and push him.”

Robert Brown and Anthony Taylor have split time with the first unit at running back this spring, with both receiving plenty of carries during 11-on-11 drills. Junior Stedman Mayberry, the starting running back last season, has been out the past week with an ankle injury and isn’t expected to play Saturday.

Withers has emphasized improving the running game and has praised new offensive coordinator and running backs coach Zak Kuhr and new offensive line coach Eric Mateos.

“You’ve got to be able to run the ball first. I think we’re trying to make a point of emphasis to run it,” Withers said. “That’s why coach Kuhr is here, so we can run the ball better.

Mateos “has done an unbelievable job of taking that group and getting them to understand what we’re trying to get done in the run game and in protection. We’re still a long ways away from where we want to be, but we’ve made strides over this time last year.”

The Bobcats’ linebacker group is set in the middle with Gabe Loyd and Bryan London returning after both recorded more than 100 tackles last season. The rest of the defensive positions are seemingly up for grabs, especially at nose tackle and outside linebacker.

Frankie Griffin, Hal Vinson, Kumonde Hines and Markeveon Coleman have all split time at outside linebacker with the first unit. Jordan Mittie, John Lilly and Grant Lanza have shared reps at nose tackle.

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