San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 23rd, 2010
Bobcats grid nemesis stands to be tough again

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Quarterback Tyler Arndt and the Texas State offense are in for a tough task Saturday against the Southern Utah offense. Texas State sports information photo.

STAFF REPORT

Nemesis: a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent.

The Texas State football team has one of those, a nemesis. In this new age of Texas State football, one little bit of unfinished business, one little nemesis, still stands to be conquered on the way to whatever is next.

In the last two years, there is no team in the Southland Conference that the Bobcats haven’t defeated. But there is one team in an obscure corner of college football that seems to have their number.

So, Southern Utah comes to Bobcat Stadium Friday (6 p.m.) having won three straight against Texas State. In each case, particularly after a 36-22 loss to Southern Utah in 2008, the Bobcats responded with strong play heading into the meat of the season.

But there is no consolation to losing against the same team constantly, and that is the ache the Bobcats will attempt to resolve Saturday night. It does not stand, once again, to be an easy task.

Southern Utah is 1-2, with a 28-20 loss at Wyoming, a 32-3 win at home against San Diego and a 16-11 loss at San Jose State last Saturday. The Bobcats, 2-1, moved into No. 23 in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) coaches poll with a 21-12 win last week against California Polytechnic.

A Texas State team that has relied on a strong running attack to help freshman quarterback Tyler Arndt now faces a Southern Utah defense ranked eighth among FCS teams against the run, allowing 70.67 rushing yards per game. The Thunderbirds rank seventh in overall defense, allowing 252.67 yards per game.

The Southern Utah flex defense has never been an easy puzzle for the Bobcats in recent years. Leading the Southern Utah defense this year is a linebacking core of Akeem Anifowoshe, Tyler Osborne and Blake Fenn, all of whom show up in the national rankings in tackles and tackles for loss.

Having faced an offense with credentials at Houston to start the season, the Bobcats under Arndt have yet to cut their teeth against a defense with credentials. Behind the running of Karrington Bush and Dexter Imade, the Bobcats are 31st nationally with 180 rushing. They will need for the running game to perform against Southern Utah so as to keep the pressure off Arndt, for Southern Utah also ranks 14th nationally (with Texas State) at 2.67 sacks per game.

The Bobcats, of course, aren’t without their bright spots. Despite Houston’s 497 total yards in the opener, the Bobcats rank 48th in total defense, allowing 339.33 yards per game.

Freshman nose tackle Preston Brown was named Southland Conference defensive player of the week after making 11 tackles against the Cal Poly option. Among them were two tackles for loss and a sack. Brown leads the Bobcats with 22 tackles.

Punter Ben Follis was named the league’s special teams player of the week after averaging 45.3 yards on six punts against Cal Poly, including two that landed at the four yard line.

Offensively, the Bobcats rank 60th overall among 117 FCS teams with 344.33 yards per game. The Bobcats are 75th in passing at 164.33 yards per game. Bush ranks 38th in rushing (87.0 yards per game), while Arndt is 51st in passer ranking (123.54) and 68th in total offense (172.0 yards per game).

Southern Utah is a little ahead of the Bobcats in the national offensive rankings, coming in at 59th in rushing offense (137.0), 27th in passing offense (239.33) and 42nd in total offense (376.33).

Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen is 44th in passing efficiency (125.96) and 34th in total offense (228.33). His favorite receivers are Fesi Sitake, who ranks 13th with 7.67 receptions per game, and Tysson Poots, who is 17th with an even seven catches per game.

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