Nearing completion in his second year at the helm of the Texas State football program, Everett Withers’ team has already matched its 2016 win total (2) with three more chances to fill the win column.
The Bobcats’ (2-7, 1-4) first opportunity comes Saturday when they host Georgia State in their final home game of the 2017 season.
More than wins, however, it’s imperative for the Bobcats’ head coach to see improvement and development. Even in the 45-35 loss to New Mexico State last Saturday it was evident.
Case in point: Texas State recorded a season-high 563 yards of offense
“We played pretty hard in the ball game Saturday,” Withers said. “Obviously we didn’t come up with the victory. I thought our guys battled. I can see improvement in a lot of areas, especially on offense. A number of guys ran and caught the football. I think our offensive staff is doing a good job trying to spread the ball around to (our playmakers).
“Defensively I thought the first half we played pretty well. We started going down in numbers especially in the back end losing a couple guys. It really hurt us when you play a really good offense – maybe the most talented in the league. We’re at that point now where it’s all hands on deck.”
The Bobcats’ last win was a 27-7 victory against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 28. Texas State also enters the Georgia State game looking to win its second home game this season after beating Houston Baptist 20-11 in the season opener.
Georgia State arrives in San Marcos boasting a 5-3 overall record after winning five of its last six games. The Panthers own a 4-1 Sun Belt Conference mark and are second in the league standings after coming from behind to defeat Georgia Southern 23-17 last Saturday. They have a 4-1 road record with their lone loss being at No. 5-ranked Penn State, 56-0, on Sept. 16.
Texas State will be looking to improve its series record to 3-2 against Georgia State after dropping its last two games to the Panthers, losing 41-21 in Atlanta last year.
“We’re playing a team that’s done a nice job recovering from their early season,” Withers said. “They are one of the teams that we played last year that looked like one of the better looking teams physically. They’re long and physical on defense and skillful on offense. The quarterback is a really good player and they have one of the best skill players in our league in Penny Hart at receiver (61 catches, 876 yards, 8 TDs). This will be a good challenge for us”
The Bobcats will have their hands full defensively.
Hart, the Sun Belt’s leading receiver, ranks fifth in the nation in receiving yards (109.5 per game), sixth in receptions (7.6 per game) and 10th in touchdowns (8). Senior quarterback Conner Manning is averaging 253.8 yards passing per game with 11 touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes this season.
Saturday is also senior day for Texas State. Before the game the university will honor the 11 members of the team who will be playing in their final home game. The Bobcats bid farewell and thank you to: Easy Anyama, Jeff Banks, Chris French, Stephan Johnson, Elijah King, Gabe Loyd, Eric Luna, Louis Rubin, Gabe Schrade, Jordan Versey and Damian Williams.
“The one thing I want those guys to always understand is they’re part of what we’re building here,” Withers said. “I think that’s really important.”
Kickoff at Bobcat Stadium is slated for 3 p.m. The game will be televised on WB35 in San Antonio and shown on ESPN3. It can also be heard on AM 1300 The Zone in Austin, 1160 AM in San Antonio and FM 89.9 in San Marcos.