In what was supposed to be a season of great expectations, Texas State is on the brink of finishing no better than .500, or worse.
A focus was put on the offense for this season, the junior campaign of QB Tyler Jones was to continue climbing upwards and take the program to never before seen heights in their young existence into the FBS ranks. Those expectations have not come to fruition. Jones has struggled, and at times mightily with his accuracy.
On the season the TXST passing offense is averaging a meager 211 yards a contest, and Jones currently holds a 2 to 1 touchdown-interception ratio. He's registered 8 TD's to 4 picks, a clear sign that his accuracy is just off.
In all fairness, the unforeseen barrage of injuries that the offensive line has faced was not expected. If anything, the O-line was to be a rock solid part of the offense, and when somewhat healthy and in sync, they are in big part why the team has still been able to average 207 yards on the ground per game.
For all intent and purposes, the passing game has not been effective in stretching the field, in order to open up the box even more, and make the Bobcat running game even more punishing. Jafus Gaines leads the 'Cats with 314 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with 2 receiving touchdowns. He's the closest thing that the 'Cats have in what is a "Go to Guy" when passing. It's expected in a ground heavy offense, to not have gaudy receiving stats, but the absence of not having any down the field threat makes the scheme that much more predictable.
Defensively, despite some of the lofty talk during fall camp, the reality was that it was going to be extremely difficult to replace a couple of NFL Draft picks and graduated defensive stalwarts.
It's like a broken record, but the defensive line, specifically the D-Tackles, have been so banged up that the team has resorted to playing a senior walk on at one of the spots. Overall play from the linebackers has digressed, and as a result, Texas State is getting gashed on the ground, surrendering 293 yards a game. Just short of an eye-popping 300 yards.
The defense has registered 11 sacks, good for just over a sack a game, but putting pressure on the opposing QB has not been consistent enough. Leaving the secondary exposed too long in coverage and resulting in opponents big plays. On average, opposing teams are averaging 50+ more yards a contest, and per completion, nearly 4 more yards.
So with that said, what's left? Texas State has five games remaining where they could potentially be favored in four of them, with three of the remaining five at Bobcat Stadium. From one extreme to another, can the 'Cats win out on a five game tear, and finish 7-5.
Realistically, probably not. Can they beat NMSU, Georgia State, ULM, (all at home), and Idaho? Yes. How things have played out this year for Coach Fran and his team, it's likely that some bad break will keep the 'Cats from mounting a four game winning streak heading into their season finale at Jonesboro with Arkansas State.
Yes, Texas State ran up and down the field last year, romping to a 45-27 victory in San Marcos over ASU, but both teams are headed in opposite directions currently. After a very tough non-conference schedule, ASU has won it's first four Sun Belt games (4-0) and is now at 5-3 overall, building up steam for another post-season bowl bid. By some miracle if TXST were to go on a tear, surge to a 6-5 mark, then beat Arkansas State and finish the season 7-5, that would be a great season for the Bobcats, circumstances considering.
Why this unrealistic talk about Texas State? Besides playing for pride, it's always better holding onto that shred of hope that could lead to something better. Because even running the table and closing out the season with five straight, very unlikely wins, the precedent for Texas State has been set. With no bowl game yet, in the Bobcats back yard, they will be left out. Even with the Sun Belt adding one more primary tie-in for bowl games this year (New Orleans, GoDaddy, Camellia, Cure), 6-6, and 7-5, in the previous two years have not been enough.
The Sun Belt already has two bowl eligible teams in Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, with Arkansas State on the verge at five wins, three other teams are ahead of the 'Cats with three wins. Not good odds at all, and it's all contingent on the 'Cats winning out.
Here's the definition of pride according to the Oxford Dictionary, "deep pleasure or satisfaction gained from achievements, qualities, or possessions."
It's simple, win out, or play for pride.