We get right into your questions for this week, so here ya go BobcatNation:
(spshetler, txstatebobcat10, agzz34)
1. What are we going to do to fix the defense? What kind of changes do you expect to see (since we have a close practice) this week? Mainly personnel changes or scheme changes? In general, what have you seen that is the defense's biggest problem or problems? What is a hunch you have about possible changes?
The number one thing Texas State has to do to fix the defense is get back to basic fundamentals, as elementary as that sounds the defense has been beaten on several big plays due to poor tackling, especially on key third down situations. Coach Fran eluded to this as well, saying that too many guys were trying to tackle with their head down, and you can’t hit what you can’t see. In terms of scheme, from what I saw in the second quarter (which Fran liked) against Southern Miss was safeties playing closer to the box to help the linebackers stop the run. Whatever the team did during the second quarter, I think the coaching staff will try to emulate this. The defense is young compared to the other side of the ball, so it is going to take a little bit of time for these guys to not think as much and just react/play. I think we could see more veteran guys like Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon see more playing time, mostly because of his presence on the field and knowledge of the defense.
2. How would Southern Miss compare to teams in the Sun belt?
Answering this question from a competition basis. Haven't see Sun Belt teams in action yet this season, but gotta go with ULL and Arkansas State. Defensively, probably not as good as those teams, but they're offense has the abililty to put up 50+ on Texas State if the Bobcats don't sure up that defense.
3. What's your sense of the demeanor/attitude of the team?
- Offense = confident and wanting more
- Defense = Inconsistent and timid
- Coaching staff = Cautiously optimistic
Coach Franchione is very pleased with where the offense is at, but knows they can do better. Tyler Jones has missed some throws, the running backs need to be a little more patient, wide receivers have dropped a few balls and the offensive line has been a little dinged up, but they have been able to perform at a high rate. Every offensive player I’ve heard speak, likes where they are at currently, but knows it will only get better as the year progresses.
During his press conference, Coach Franchione’s main word for the defense was inconsistent. As mentioned previously, the second quarter of the Southern Miss game was one of the better defensive efforts on the season, but it disappeared after one quarter. This side of the ball is young and thinking too much, rather than trusting what they know about the scheme and their instincts. Damani Alexcee mentioned each guy needs to do their one-eleven; each man handles their responsibility and they should have a more successful outcome. Don’t try to do too much.
4. Do you think any freshman or RS Freshman are going to get the opportunity to see the field on the defensive side of the ball?
Ladon Beck, Ishmael Davis, Bo Anderson, Camyron Brown, and Andrew Aneke are the freshman and red shirt freshman who have already logged snaps for Texas State on defense. A bit suprised that Kerry Walker hasn't seen action yet. That tells me that baring serious injuries in front of him, he'll be red shirting.
5. What are the keys to beating UH this week?
The Cougars score 70% of their points in the first and fourth quarters, therefore the Bobcats are going to have to score points out of the gate and finish strong. Against Southern Miss it took the offense a few drives to get in a rhythm. They can’t have that against the Cougars, or they will get in a deficit too large to overcome. On defense, the Bobcats are going to have to get the Cougars off the field on third down (said this last week too but opponents are converting at 54%), especially third down and long. Whenever the defense gave up a third down and long against Southern Miss, I could tell it totally demoralized the defense. I think an interception would really go a long way in getting them re-energized. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is the epitome of a dual-threat quarterback, averaging about 250 yards through the air and 100 on the ground. The defensive ends will have to do a good job at getting up the field and holding down the edge to help funnel Ward in to the middle of the defense and to move up in the pocket while passing. Trey McGowan will need to have a big game for the Bobcats and should have an eye on Ward throughout the game. On offense, I think they need to establish Rob Lowe early on. If our offensive line can create some holes early on, that will make it easier on Tyler Jones to throw the ball down field and open up running lanes for him like last game. I would like to see Coach Franchione take a chance this game in a critical situation (similar to the Lumi Kaba run against FSU) to show the team that he still has confidence in them; I’m not sure exactly what the situation would be, but I think some sort of play similar to that or going for it on a questionable 4th down might instill some confidence.
6. What is the status on Tim Gay? Will he continue to see reps on D? at which position?
During his press conference Coach Franchione said that Tim Gay is day-to-day. I think Gay will continue to work where he has been on defense, at defensive end or the "Bandit" position. I don’t think the coaches want to move him around too much on the defensive side of the football, but I’m not sure how much longer he will maintain the role as a starter.
7. Where would we be now if we had handed the keys to the car to Tom Herman instead of Brad Wright in 2007?
I’m a little too young (was in high school in ’07) to know about this whole situation, but I can give it my best shot from what I know/have read. From what I can take from the inter-webs, Tom Herman was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Brad Wright was the running backs coach. Just at face value, it seems that Herman was a more lucrative figure on the Texas State coaching staff. David Bailiff left after the 2006 season to go to Rice, and took Herman with him. Maybe Herman didn’t want the Texas State job and wanted to gain some more experience so he could land a better division one job? I would think that Herman would have been a more desired candidate by the Texas State administration at the time. From what I saw of Brad Wright’s offense was a bunch of five yard outs and eight yard digs, and don’t really remember much about the defense or mental make-up of the team.
In my opinion, Texas State would have had to be in a better position if Herman would have taken the head coaching job. Would be nice to know if that was even an option. He seems to be an innovative offensive mind and knows how to get the best out of his players. The entire Tony Levine era at U of H was a disaster, and there are still a lot of players still around from those teams. I can say the Bobcats would have been better off with Herman at the helm, but he gained a lot of valuable experience under David Bailiff, Paul Rhoads and one of the best coaches in the country in Urban Meyer, so he might not have been the same coach he is now. We can only speculate and dream about what could have been. Say he would've had the same success at Head Coach as he did as the OC, how long would have he stayed before going on to a bigger better job?
8. How much faith do you think Fran still has in Thompson?
I think Coach Franchione still has complete confidence in John Thompson on the defensive side of the ball. From Texas State media day, Fran said this was the first year he’s felt like the Bobcats have actually had a division one quality roster, aka we’ve finally gotten our guys, and this is only Thompson’s second year. The defense lost four-ish key guys from last season: David Mayo, Craig Mager, Michael Odiari, and Brian Orakpo (he’s my ish guy). That’s a lot of production and leadership that had to be replaced on one side of the ball, with two of them being contributors on an NFL roster. It’s way too early to pull the plug on Thompson, or say that Fran doesn’t have faith, because there have been so many changes and there are so many young guys on defense this season.