At 0-3 in the Southland Conference with its quarterback injured and some of its toughest games remaining, the Texas State football team is past the point of gunning for a league championship.
But the Bobcats aren’t past the point of being a respectable football team. It is a measure, perhaps a back-handed sign of progress, that we can still say that about the Bobcats while they’re on a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season.
As recently as 2007, the Bobcats lost games because they were terrible. The players took little ownership of the team and one didn’t even know if the effort would be there. Now, the Bobcats lose games merely because they have problems. The effort isn’t in question.
But neither are the problems. The Bobcats are going to Stephen F. Austin (SFA) Saturday (2 p.m.) to play the third-ranked team in the country, according to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) coaches poll.
SFA is 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southland Conference for first place. Texas State is 3-4 and 0-3, last in the league.
SFA is playing for the national championship. The Bobcats are playing for pride.
SFA has quarterback Jeremy Moses, who now holds the Southland Conference career passing records for completions (1,042), touchdowns (107) and yards (11,686), as well as total offense (11,403).
If Moses matches his per-game averages this year in five remaining games (four in the regular season and probably, at least, one in the playoffs), he would finish his career with 121 touchdown passes, 13,245 passing yards, 1,180 completions and 12,928 total yards. Those numbers would place him fourth all time among Division I quarterbacks in completions (first among FCS quarterbacks). He also would finish in the top 15 among Division I quarterbacks in touchdown passes (fourth in FCS) and yards (fourth in FCS), and 29th in total offense (ninth in FCS).
The Bobcats won’t even have Tyler Arndt, who is out, probably for the rest of this season, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. And the Bobcats haven’t run the ball well in the last three weeks, averaging barely more than 80 yards per game, which feeds into another strong aspect of SFA’s team.
“The first thing you see there is Jeremy Moses,” Texas State coach Brad Wright said. “Where you really see the difference now is on the defensive side of the ball.”
SFA has held two of its last four opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The last six SFA opponents, all vanquished, have scored 38 points between them in the second half.
In the Bobcats’ favor is history. Texas State has won the last three games against SFA, and five of the last six.
Last year, the Texas State defense played its best game of the year in a 28-7 win against SFA at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats held Moses to 244 passing yards, 100 less than his per-game average up to that point. SFA also entered that game 6-1 and 3-0.
“It’s a different year,” Wright said. “A lot of the players are different. Last year (defensive tackle Adley) Eshraghipour, had a heck of a game against them. This year, he’s injured.”
Said SFA head coach J.C. Harper, “We’ve struggled against these guys the past few years, so we will need to be very focused. They have some very talented players.”
But many of the talented Texas State players are either out or slow with injury. Eshraghipour is out, Arndt is out, the offensive line is banged up and the Bobcats are reeling.
It remains, though, that the opportunity still is out there for the Bobcats to line up against the likes of SFA, Central Arkansas, McNeese State and Sam Houston to close out the season. Victory against SFA and Sam Houston are among the Bobcats’ stated goals every year.
“All we can do as a football team is give it our best shot,” Wright said. “… We’re going to try to keep getting better as a football program.”
For college football players, with their limited opportunities during a career, that’s still worth playing for, even if little else is in reach.Email | Print