Disclaimer : I am sure that I have something wrong with this preview. If something is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email (doubletnation AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get things corrected either in the story or in the comments. The purpose of this preview is to help educate myself and Texas Tech fans about your team.
I'm sorta in a bind with this as I can't find any statistics that compares what Texas St. did to the rest of the FBS or BCS teams. So, I feel like I'm a bit stuck. I'm trying to do these ratings based on what the team did last year and possible improvement. So I'm flying blind a bit here as I think that the reason why this is the case is that Texas St. was pretty much flying solo last year, but now, the Bobcats are in the Sun Belt, so hopefully that won't happen again.
Head coach Dennis Franchione is in year two of the rebuilding process and after going 6-6 in his first year, went 4-8 last year. I don't mean this disrespectfully, but I do think that the Sun Belt is just about right for Texas St. as they work their way up the system. Not only that, but it should prove to be some pretty entertaining football too with teams like Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana- Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky University for the 2013 season and then will add Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in 2014. I think that's about right.
Offense - Run
So I do think it is pretty interesting that Texas St. does have incoming a running back named C.J. Best, who is the cousin of Jahvid Best. Texas St. loses their top two rushers from last year in QB Shaun Rutherford and RB Marcus Curry. They did have some guys that come some additional carries in Tim Gay, who ran for 286 yards, and Terrence Franks who ran for 277. Gay averaged a whopping 10.3 yards per carry. In the spring game, Chris Nutall and they redshirted him last year, perhaps thinking that they were going to need reinforcements after the graduation of Curry.
The line returns four of five starters, losing only LT Adley Eshraghipour (I am glad that I do not have to type that name on a regular basis). Lots of young guys from last year that will be juniors or seniors, including LG Charlie Will Tuttle, C Collin Fissell, RG Mike Yoder and RT Devin Baker. As a team, this group ran for over 2,000 yards and they averaged 5.2 yards a carry. The backbone of this team is the running game and I don't expect that to change. I don't know how it will work out without a more mobile quarterback, and if Arndt has improved, then maybe that opens up things for the running backs a bit more.
Offense - Pass
So I think that QB Tyler Arndt is going to give it one more shot, but it's beena rough go for him over the past couple of years, going back and forth a bit with starter Shaun Rutherford last year. Arndt only completed 39% of his passes in action last year and this has always sorta been who he is. Just a guy that isn't all that mobile, is supposed to be a better passer than Rutherford, but hasn't been a better passer than just about anyone. The backup quarterback is a guy named Jordan Moore and I don't know anything about him other than he redshirted last year and played in their spring game. From looking at the two-deep from the Bobcats' last game against New Mexico St.,
They didn't lose any starters ar receiver, but their leading receiver only caught 39 passes for the entire season. This isn't a passing team and although Arndt has a decent spring game, where he was efficient and didn't turn the ball over, I won't believe that he's turned the corner until I see it. Andy Erickson is, by far, the best receiver and he's also from Lake Travis. He's sorta been the guy that does just about everything for Texas St. as he was that guy that was the leading receiver and returner extrordinaire. Isaiah Battle also returns and he caught 24 passes last year. The only thing that I'm confused about is that Erickson didn't play during the spring game and neither did Battle, so I don't knwo what to make of that.
Defense - Run
Hmm. So the name D.J. Yendrey was a name that sounded familiar and it was because Yendrey, Tanner Brock and Ty Horn were all charged with that TCU drug bust stuff. I think he pleaded guilty, so I guess he's done his time. I don't know how this stuff works and I don't know that I want to take the time to find out what happened. So obviously, no matter who Texas St. had on their line, Yendrey should help. Michael Orakpo was a name that also seemed familiar. Michael is the brother of Brian, but Michael originally started his career at Colorado St. and then was accused of beating four freshmen while there (I think he said it was self-defense). He was then going to transfer to Baylor, but I guess that didn't pan out and now he's at Texas St. So I don't think I really like this, but it's all about winning, right?
Anyway, the other decent returning players are DL Blake McColloch, who registered 2.0 sacks last year, DL Jamie Clavell-Head (who had 2 interceptions!) and LB David Mayo was seventh in tackles last year. And I think that Texas St. does lose a lot of returning tacklers as they had some pretty decent linebackers last year. Overall though, Texas St. gave up 2,700 yards rushing. For comparison purposes, Kansas, which was the worst rushing defense in the Big 12, gave up 2,300 yards rushing.
Defense - Pass
The secondary loses CB Darryl Morris and SS Jason McLean, but they do return some pretty good players in FS Xavier Daniels and CB Craig Mager. Both of those guys were some of the top returning tacklers and pass defenders and they were pretty good for Texas St. The Bobcats had 14 interceptions on the year last year, which again reminds me as to the fact that Texas Tech has had 13 over the past two years. I don't know really how to judge how well this group did over the course of last year. Opposing offenses only passed for 3,000 or so yards, which isn't a lot, but I don't know how much stock to put into the fact that there didn't appear to be a bunch of passing teams. For example, Texas St. beat SFA by 4 points last year and gave up 385 yards, but it was on 69 attempts (#ATMO). I didn't really have time to delve into each game, but it just appeared to be a lot of running teams on their schedule.
With Erickson returning pretty much everything as well as Gaines, the special teams also returns P Zach Robinson, who averaged 43 yards per punt, and K Will Johnson, who was 12 of 17 last year and almost perfect with PAT's, 43 of 44.
I'm not a real big fan of Dennis Franchione. I don't think I'm alone in that regard as my old man, an Aggie, couldn't stand him. Now, with Orakpo and Yendrey coming on board, I don't know what to think. I like giving people chances, but it is always a risk to give guys like Orakpo (who may be completely innocent) and Yendrey second chances. Maybe they are totally repentant about their situations. What Franchione is trying to do is difficult, which is usher in FBS level play for what has always been a FCS team.
Maybe taking these types of risks in order to take that step up, which is actually the Sun Belt this year for Texas St., is the best way to do that. Texas St. signed Franchione to a five year extension earlier this spring, essentially doing what Kirby Hocutt refuses to do, which is sign coaches that aren't necessarily performing. I write that, but I honestly don't know what Texas St. fans think of the job that Fran is doing. Maybe they see this as a process and see 4-8 as a step.
Rating the Bobcats
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