Bobcats try to do it again

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. central and we've got the detailed breakdown. All of the practice reports, media days and offseason interviews have led to this. Welcome to the college football season Bobcat fans.

Both quarterbacks will play. A started has not been officially named and while it may not matter on the surface, it actually could. Last year, Shaun Rutherford got the first snaps against Houston and besides a bad outing against Texas Tech, Franchione never looked back at his quarterback situation. Things may get interesting if whoever goes out on the field first doesn't execute but the quarterback situation could be just as resolved at the end of this year's opener as last year's.

"Both (Tyler Arndt and Jordan Moore) have had good August camps and good summers," Franchione said. "They've improved their game. I don't think we're going in uneasy about our situation, we're going in with some comfort about it."

Five running backs are slated to get snaps: Tim Gay, Terrance Franks, Rob Lowe, Chris Nutall and C.J. Best, with Gay expected to lead the way. The running game by extreme committee this season could be one of the most enjoyable parts of the 2013 team.

"You're only as strong as your weakest link and from running backs to receivers, I honestly feel like we don't have one and that makes the game that much easier for you," said wide receiver Isaiah Battle. "I get tired, Tim Gay gets tired but we won't miss a step."

Wide receiver Andy Erickson led the nation in punt return average, averaging 16.7 yards per return last season. After a season-ending injury in San Antonio sidelined him for the remainder of 2012, Erickson is back to 100%, back as the team's lead punt returner and back as an offensive weapon for Arndt and Moore to throw to.

The Bobcats finished fourth in kickoff return average and 11th in punt return average as a team.

"I had a little setback during spring ball and I didn't really participate too much but rehab has been going good and I'm back," Erickson said. "Right now, we're looking to do some different things in the return game this year. This year we're trying to be #1."

Southern Miss brings a lot of mystery into this game with a whole new coaching staff, inexperience at key positions and a burning fire for victory that no FBS Bobcat football team has encountered before. The most pressure is on Texas State's defense, who regularly gave up 500 yards of offense to quick-passing, up-tempo offenses like one the Bobcats will likely see on Saturday.

The city of Hattiesburg declared today, August 31 "Beat Texas State Day." Southern Miss has lost 12 straight games and hasn't won since December 24, 2011 – 616 days.

"(Southern Miss) putting this game on a higher level for them has just made my team really consider what this game's about, what it means to them and what it should mean to us," said linebacker Damion McMiller. "They're definitely focused on winning this game and we need to make sure we are too."

The Bobcats and Golden Eagles will be in a chess match all evening. Both teams want the win, Southern Miss needs it more.

"One thing I do know for sure is that this is a proud program we are getting ready to play," Franchione said. "This has always been a good football program. Whatever they went through last year can be fixed and I'm sure they're talented enough to be able to do that."

Stay tuned to Bobcat Illustrated for our keys to the game and predictions, to be published Saturday afternoon.

Talk about this weekends game against the Golden Eagles in the Eat 'Em Up Free Forum


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