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Texas State wide receiver Isaiah Battle mows downfield in one of few offensive highlights last Saturday against Texas Tech (Texas State sports information photo).


We knew we would learn a lot about the Texas State football team when it went up to Texas Tech last week, particularly in the fundamental realms of blocking and tackling.

A 33-7 loss returned an overwhelming verdict. The tackling is there. The blocking is not.

Wyoming comes to Bobcat Stadium Saturday (6 p.m.) with another stiff challenge for the Texas State defense, and not so much of a challenge to the Texas State offense. Unfortunately, it apparently doesn’t take much to challenge the Texas State offense.

The NCAA statistics this week show Texas State ranked 116th out of 123 bowl-level teams in total offense with 285.0 yards per game. Three games into the season, the 2-1 Bobcats don’t have a passer with 400 yards or a rusher with 200 yards, and their top receiver, Isaiah Battle, has 102 yards.

The Texas Tech game pointed up the deficiencies rather dramatically. The Bobcats totaled 240 yards. The Bobcats were so overwhelmed by Texas Tech’s raw defensive force that they often seemed unable to get plays started.

“We didn’t execute very well,” Texas State coach Dennis Franchione told reporters at his press conference this week. “We didn’t block very well, we got whipped at the point of attack, we didn’t find the seam if there was one and we didn’t get enough helmets on bodies to move things around well enough to get the ball in the end zone.”

The Bobcats open their Sun Belt Conference season next Saturday at Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL). We should work up a pretty good idea in the Wyoming game how the Bobcats might stack up offensively for the league opener. Wyoming is 85th in total defense, allowing 421.8 yards per game, and ULL is 93rd, allowing 434.0.

The Texas State defense isn’t too far from that neighborhood, allowing 393.0 yards per game to rank 69th. Those numbers took a hit against Tech, which rang up 552 yards against the Bobcats. As far as guarding the end zone, though, the Bobcats were pretty stout. Tech scored two touchdowns on short fields after the Bobcats gambled in the kicking game and lost, and another touchdown scored against the Texas State offense.

“When you look at some of the (defensive) stats I was impressed with, we had three takeaways, no defensive penalties, two fourth down stops and forced four field goals in seven red zone attempts,” Franchione said. “I thought we handled the no huddle stuff very well. We tackled really well — 96 snaps, we only missed 10 tackles. That was really good. The other big stat was only 38 yards after contact.”

Now, though, the Bobcats face an even better offense. Wyoming is eighth nationally with 556.3 yards per game. Texas Tech, by comparison, is 16th at 520.0. Unlike Tech, which plays two freshman quarterbacks, Wyoming has real experience at the position. Brett Smith is a junior, but he now is starting for the third straight year. Already, he has passed for 1,315 yards this season, which is more than the total amassed by the entire Texas State offense. In his career, he has thrown 60 touchdowns against 20 interceptions.

Throwing 42 passes per game this year, and completing 29, Smith has a 68.6 completion percentage. With that kind of productivity, the 3-1 Cowboys have scored no fewer than 35 points in any game this season. Twice this season, the Cowboys have covered at least 600 yards on offense.

And Franchione remembers Smith from 2011, when he quarterbacked the Cowboys to a 45-10 win against the Bobcats at Wyoming. Smith completed 16 of 31 passes. He was only a freshman. Today, he’s much better.

“I thought he played more like a sophomore or a junior, and now he’s playing like a sixth-year guy,” Franchione said. “He’s certainly the catalyst that makes them go.”

The Bobcats are still looking for that catalyst. And the blocking to set one free.

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