The bye-week was well received by players Lumi Kaba and Ryan Melton, along with Coach Dennis Franchione. The open weekend allowed the players to go home to spend some time with their families, relax and recuperate. Prior to the season, Franchione was unsure how he felt about the way the schedule lined up with an open week, game, open week, but with the changes that have been made he likes it. It gives the team an opportunity to rest mentally and physically, and has allowed the coaching staff to implement defensive changes. The upcoming game against the University of Louisiana-Layfette will allow the coaches to assess the changes, then use the following open week to make the necessary adjustments for the long-haul of conference play.
Melton began the press conference speaking about how conference season is a fresh start, and emphasized that the Bobcats still have an opportunity to make a bowl game. I asked Melton to assess the offensive line play up to this point in the season.
“Some of the things we have done well…We are a pretty physical offensive line. We are pretty focused. I know we have had a good year on mental errors; we haven’t had very many of those…Some of the things we can improve on: our technique. Some times our hands and feet aren’t exactly where they need to be, what they need to be doing for each play,” said Melton.
In regards to Louisiana-Layfette, Melton said that the game will be a good battle in the trenches. The Ragin Cajuns have a big defensive line and good linebackers that will present a physical challenge for the Bobcat offensive line.
Kaba took the podium after Melton. He said that he has been working on becoming more consistent in all three phases of the kicking game, explaining that you can’t utilize your big leg if you aren’t consistently hitting your targets. Kaba regularly watches film of the opposing team to see which side of the field he can attack more, looking to see if there is a weaker side of the field that the coverage team can penetrate. Interesting note – Kaba said that he just began punting this past summer.
As we know, Louisiana-Layfette has been one of the top teams in the Sun Belt over the past several seasons. Franchione acknowledged that the program is well coached, has good players, excellent fan support, and is a tough environment to play in. Since coming to the Sun Belt, the Ragin Cajuns have had the Bobcats’ number, but Franchione believes that this season the team is closer to them in terms of talent and skill level than in previous years; he stated that the Arkansas State win from last season showed that Texas State was beginning to close the gap in terms of talent.
The majority of the questions aimed at Coach Franchione had to do with the defense, for obvious reason. Keff and I were pleasantly surprised with how open he was in regards to the change from John Thompson to Brad Franchione being named interim defensive coordinator. He explained that there have been changes made on defense, and that there has been a noticeable difference, but you can only see and do so much in practice. Brad Franchione has tried to put things in to a more concise message, more black and white with less grey area for interpretation, as he said occurred frequently in the previous defense. According to Franchione, Thompson, who is known for his attacking-style of defense, would alter his game plan during the game compared to what the team had worked on in practice. He would go from an attacking mentality, to a softer defense that was just trying to keep the plays in front of him (he specifically mentioned Florida State as an example), and this seemed to really confuse Franchione. Another thing that displeased the head coach was the lack of speed when sending in defensive plays. It seemed like regularly the offense would be near ready to snap the football while the Texas State defense was just getting the call in and moving in to formation.
With the change at coordinator, the average fan (or media member) might think this would cause issues or uncertainty amongst the team, but Franchione expressed that the players knew that change was necessary. He explained that Thompson tried to coach and teach the guys based on memory, while Brad Franchione is working more on the concept of teaching and trying to make things more simple; aiming to get more reaction and less thinking. The biggest thing he has noticed in practice is that the secondary is clearer on what they should be doing.
Lead Reporter Keff Ciardello has also posted the full audio file from Coach Fran’s press conference. Coach Fran was very candid in his original decision of bring Coach Thompson on board and he goes into discussion about his thoughts in almost going with Brad Franchione as the DC last year.