By Joe Garcia
Everett Withers gets charged up for these types of games.
The first-year Texas State head coach, who played his college ball at Appalachian State, said that he would get up for and look forward to playing ACC foes such as Clemson and Wake Forrest. He has faith his team will reflect similar sentiments in their upcoming clash on the road versus No. 24 Arkansas this Saturday, followed by No. 6 Houston at home.
This is the first time these two programs have met and marks the fifth game in which the Bobcats have played against a current member of the Southeastern Conference. Texas State played at Texas A&M in 1919 and 2005, Missouri in 2001 and Kentucky in 2006.
“I hope our kids are excited about playing against a top-25 SEC opponent and a top-10 AAC opponent (Houston),” Withers said. “I hope that’s the mindset because that’s what my mindset would be. I’m excited about going to Fayetteville.”
Texas State comes off a bye following its 56-54 win in triple overtime at Ohio. In the Week 1 victory, senior quarterback Tyler Jones set school records for completions (40) and passing yards (418) in a game.
At Tuesday’s press conference Withers made it clear that he and his team are way past the season opener, saying the Ohio win seemed “like a year ago,” which mirrors the old adage not to rest on your laurels.
Coaches used the extra week of preparation to get better at all positions. Withers said “Improvement” was the word of the week for players and coaches alike.
“I thought our bye week was very productive; we got a lot done,” Withers said. “We were not a very good team in game one, so we wanted to make sure we went back and worked on the fundamentals. We were able to do that in three practices last week.”
Arkansas (2-0) squeaked by Louisiana Tech 21-20 in Week 1 and upset then-No. 15 TCU 41-38 in double overtime last Saturday. The Hogs boast big, powerful offensive and defensive lines, athletic skill players across the board and have received clutch quarterback play from junior Austin Allen.
Allen came through for head coach Bret Bielema during the second overtime in Fort Worth last week, running in the game-winning touchdown from the 5-yard line completing his second game-winning drive this season. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 223 yards and four total TDs.
The Razorbacks lead the SEC (16th nationally) in time of possession per game (34:54).They have led the SEC in time of possession each of the last two seasons. The Hogs ran the ball 43 times during the team’s win at TCU, helping them finish with a 6-minute time of possession advantage.
Withers expects to see more of the same Saturday night and knows attrition will play a major factor.
“What we have to do is be really good in setting edges and being strong in where we need to be and the gap responsibility,” Withers said. And then be good with our eyes on the play action pass. Obviously (Arkansas) are going to outweigh you. They key is getting off the field so you’re not getting worn down. What teams like Arkansas do is they wear you down. The challenge for us is to get the ball back to the offense so we can go tempo. Again our goal is to be up in the 80s with the number of plays.”
Kickoff at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium will be exactly at 6:39 p.m. on the SEC Network and can be heard on AM 1300 in Austin, 930 AM and 89.9 FM in San Marcos.