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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Football

Cougars try to beat Bobcats for second consecutive season


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With a win against Texas State University on Saturday, Tom Herman could improve his record to 17-1 on his career. | Reagan Earnst/The Cougar

After escaping Cincinnati with a 40-16 win over the Bearcats last Thursday, the Cougars must now prepare to go on the road again for a Saturday night game with the Texas State Bobcats.

Although a blowout by score, last Thursday’s victory showed the character of the football team as the players trailed at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Head coach Tom Herman credited resiliency, fortitude and run-stopping defense as the reasons for the team’s successful start to the season.

“It’s something I’ve never been around,” Herman said. “(Cincinnati) had 30 yards total rushing, (Lamar had) 12 yards the week before and Oklahoma had I think 60 or 70. It’s unbelievable, if you can stop the run you’re going to have a chance to win a lot of football games.”

Although 3-0 on the season, senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is feeling the effects of his fearless play. Having missed a game this season due to an ailing shoulder, Ward showed no signs of going light against the Bearcats, as he rushed a career-high of 26 times.

The added hits coupled with an already bum shoulder has left many wondering if Ward will be ready to play against the Bobcats. Herman said that although Ward was healthy enough to play in the Sept. 10 game against the Lamar University Cardinals, but he didn’t want to risk further injury to his quarterback — especially with a quick turnaround coming the following week against the Bearcats.

This will not be the case when the Cougars travel to San Marcos.

“Texas State is not Lamar,” Herman said. “That’s a really good football team. They went on the road in their first game in the (coach Everett) Withers era and won a triple overtime game at a (Mid-American Conference) opponent’s place that has traditionally been one of the top teams in the (conference). Much different animal, he’s going to play.”

The Bobcats will enter the game with a win against Ohio University and a loss to the University of Arkansas. In their match with Ohio, the team racked up 546 yards on their way to scoring 56 points.

However, when faced against a Top-25 team, the Arkansas Razorbacks, over the weekend, the Bobcats managed just three points and 105 yards. Regardless of their struggles against formidable opponents, Herman recognized that the team has multiple strengths.

“Even though they’re a spread offense like us, they’re going to run the football first,” Herman said. “They’re going to try to pressure you in the backfield on defense. I know they play really hard and really physical.”

For Herman, the game may hold more weight than simply another win or loss to his resume. Having been friends with Withers for over a decade now, Herman feared that a friendly rivalry could exist.

The two coached together at Ohio State University and the University of Texas at earlier stops in their careers. Herman said that their wives remain in touch and become close friends while Withers and he coached in Columbus, Ohio and Austin.

“We were excited when Everett got the opportunity to move back to the great state of Texas,” Herman said. “I’m excited to see him off to such a great start, to go on the road against a really good opponent like Ohio University I think shows that his players are already believing in him and buying in to his way of doing things.”

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