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After back-to-back six-plus-win seasons, Texas State was a team on the rise since joining FBS in 2012. But, 2015 didn't go to plan as the Bobcats struggled to three wins. And so, head coach Everett Withers was brought aboard to lead the team. Withers comes from James Madison, but was also North Carolina head coach back in 2011.
According to Withers, every spot on the depth chart is up for grabs and that means starting quarterback where Tyler Jones led most of the way last year. Jones finished with a mediocre 14 TDs and 10 INTs, while completing 58.4% of his passes. His numbers were a tad better in 2014 when he was also the starter. Unfortunately for Jones, he still has to beat out graduate transfer Eddie Printz from Missouri and a redshirt freshman for the job.
Running back is a similar question with Tyler Siudzinski (290 yards) being the top returnee, although that doesn't mean much. Receiver is also a toss up with Demun Mercer (235 yards) the top returnee. New coordinator Brett Elliott (who also came from JMU) said they'll remain an up-tempo attack, so it'll be interesting to see how that works with a list of new starters. The offensive line does return three senior starters, but will those guys even start?
Defensively, Texas State was a mess last year, allowing 39.2 points per game. Not much returns from that group, but they'll be working in a new 3-4 scheme anyway. There are a few seniors to work with at each level, but it's not guaranteed any of them will get the start. Corner Brandon McDowell and safety Damani Alexcee should give the secondary some experience. Elsewhere, linebacker could be entirely new with only one senior in the two-deep, Teron Fitzgerald.
Part of Texas State's struggles last year had to do with a difficult schedule. Unfortunately, the Bobcats will likely lose their first three games of the year unless they make major immediate improvements. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to get Sun Belt wins, most notably in back-to-back games against Monroe and Lafayette. Home games against Idaho and Troy also top that list, and those are sandwiched by a road game at NMSU.
It's hard to see the Bobcats getting back to that six-win mark this year and making a bowl game. They have the worst odds by far at 5Dimes to win the conference if that says anything. With so many new faces and questions across the team, Withers has his hands full. Three or four wins seem most likely for this team unless the defense can take a major step up.
2016 Texas State Bobcats Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Ohio
Sept. 17 at Arkansas
Sept. 24 vs. Houston
Oct. 1 vs. Incarnate Word
Oct. 8 at Georgia State
Oct. 15 at Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 22 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 5 at Appalachian State
Nov. 12 vs. Idaho
Nov. 19 at New Mexico State
Nov. 26 vs. Troy
Dec. 3 vs. Arkansas State
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