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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Commentary

Houston prepares for ‘very challenging’ Texas State offense


WEB-Justin-Tijerina-IMG_2245

Shasta leads the Cougar football team to pregame routine chants. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

 

After sitting out week three of the college football season, the Cougars (2-0) are set to return to the field to take on the Texas State Bobcats (1-2) Saturday at 7 p.m. at TDECU Stadium.

They enter this game after dropping a 56-50 shootout to the University of Southern Mississippi last Saturday.

Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones proved to be a dynamic playmaker for the Bobcats against Southern Miss. The junior accumulated 470 yards and five total touchdowns against the Golden Eagle defense, including a career-day rushing with 160 yards and two scores on 18 carries and was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Student-Athlete of the Week.

Though the Bobcats didn’t win the game, Jones’ performance is a prime example of the kind of offensive threat the Cougar defense will face on Saturday.

“They are very challenging on offense because they are going to line up in some really unusual formations, putting five guys in the boundary and no guys in the field and then all of a sudden they are running triple-option,” head coach Tom Herman said. “You are just trying to line up for the formation, (but) then you have to understand your triple-option assignment.”

Texas State has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation — ranked 21 in the NCAA — after putting up 6.08 yards per carry for 243 yards per game and nine touchdowns on the ground.

Their passing offense has been less explosive, but still solid. They are ranked No. 41 in the nation with 270 yards per game and seven scores through the air. They have been very good at not giving the ball away though, as the Bobcat’s quarterbacks have not thrown a single interception in 110 pass attempts.

The Cougar secondary will have their hands full with the Bobcat receivers, as Jones likes to spread the ball around. Four of the top receiving threats for Texas State have at least 123 yards this season, making it difficult for the Coogs to focus any particular player.

Defensively, Texas State University has struggled so far this season, ranking 122 in the nation after giving up 7.24 yards per play, 550 yards per game and 19 total touchdowns through three games.

One of the biggest areas of concerns for the Bobcat defense is a better than 50 percent third down conversion rate by opposing offenses. They have allowed a first down on 23 of 43 attempts so far, and that has played a big part in their two losses.

The defensive scheme of the Bobcats’ is a multiple front that shifts constantly between a three and four-man front and is unpredictable at times.

“They’re everywhere, and so that is going to be a challenge for our offensive staff,” Herman said. “We need to make sure we have a hat for a hat…in the run because we can’t afford negative yardage plays.”

Special teams has been another strength of the Bobcats this season, with senior wide receiver Brandon Smith racking up 238 return yards on 11 attempts, good for ninth nationally.

If the Cougars are to pick up their third win of the season, stopping the run has to be the number one priority. So far, the UH defense is ranked second in the nation in rushing defense after allowing just 1.68 yards per carry and 49.5 yards per game, making this a strength-on-strength matchup Saturday night.

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