After spending one season at Mississippi State, former offensive coordinator Brett Elliott is back at Texas State as the quarterbacks coach. In Elliott's lone season at Texas State (2016), he was instrumental in recruiting multiple quarterbacks, including the two top quarterbacks in competition for 2018 -- sophomore Willie Jones III and freshman Jaylen Gipson. Will that familiarity lead to more wins?
Previewing Texas State Football's Offense for 2018
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Gipson redshirted last year. Jones saw limited action, completing 18-of-37 passes for 281 yards and rushing for 168 on 43 attempts. Coach Everett Withers says there is an open competition -- even incoming freshman Tyler Vitt will have a shot.
Texas State's top receiver from last season, Elijah King, graduated, but the Bobcats return their top five rushers, including three running backs who combined for 1,093 yards and over 4.0 yards per carry -- junior Anthony D. Taylor and sophomores Jaylin Nelson, Robert Brown and Anthony Smith.
The Bobcats must replace second-team All-Sun Belt tight end Gabe Schrade. Returning tight ends Elijah Rogers and Brendon Rushing combined for four receptions last season; one or more of the incoming tight ends in the 2018 recruiting class could play right away.
With tackle Tryston Mizerak graduating early and opting to forgo his senior season, junior Aaron Brewer has become the elder statesman on the offensive line. They may be young in the trenches, but the Bobcats are experienced, returning three starters and multiple key reserves.
Previewing Texas State Football's Defense for 2018
New coordinator Chris Woods, who spent the last three seasons as a defensive specialist at Oklahoma, will keep the Bobcats' 3-4 base defense intact. Seven of the team's top 10 tacklers from last year are returning, including two of the top three in Bryan London (91) and Frankie Griffin (74). Those two anchor a linebacker unit that is still strong despite losing starters Gabe Loyd and Easy Anyama.
Defensive tackle Jordan Mittie transferred to Kansas State, leaving the Bobcats without their most productive lineman. The hope is that the team's ends -- senior Ishmael Davis and juniors Dean Taylor and Kumonde Hines -- can help fill the void. Senior Sami Awad and sophomore Caeveon Patton had strong spring camps and are competing for snaps at nose tackle.
The Bobcats are returning three defensive backs with extensive starting experience -- senior safety A.J. Krawczyk and junior corners Anthony J. Taylor and JaShon Waddy. However, there are six defensive backs in the incoming class, including Pierce Withers, the son of the head coach, so don't be surprised to see some fresh faces.
Previewing Texas State Football's Specialists for 2018
The Bobcats addressed glaring needs in the kicking game by signing a placekicker (Chris Kessler) and a punter (Clayton Stewart) for the 2018 class. Senior James Sherman, who was used primarily on kickoffs last year, also will compete for both roles.
With just 12 seniors on the roster, the Bobcats are fielding a very young team once again. The difference: Their inexperienced underclassmen are now seasoned sophomores and juniors. While this probably won't translate into a winning season, Texas State should start to show progress in Withers' third year.