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April 19, 2012
Despite the notable jump in competition, there is plenty of reason for optimism in San Marcos. The Bobcats signed the WAC's top-ranked class in February, which included several prospects with offers from BCS AQ programs.
We caught up with BobcatReport.com's Brent Thibodeaux for the latest on Texas State.
THE SPRING LEAD
The Bobcats find themselves in the unenviable situation of having question marks along both lines and facing a much tougher slate of competition than they ever have before.
"It's not what you want to walk into the season with when you've got problems in the trenches," Thibodeaux said. "It is a problem, so the coaches are trying to fix that. They got some good high school talent that they hope -- some of them you want to redshirt, some of them you think they can play now.
"Now you're playing with the big boys in FBS and you're going to have a 12-game schedule that each week you're going to need quality depth. You can't just go in there with a few guys that you hope can help you out. You need 10 or 11 quality guys."
Right tackle Thad Watkins is the only returning player with seven or more starts on Texas State's offensive line last season, while Charlie Will Tuttle started a handful of games at center. Beyond that, the Bobcats head into fall camp looking for three new starters up front.
"They're working a bunch of different guys back and forth and, during the spring, they were mixing and matching players, seeing how versatile they could be," Thibodeaux said.
Depth is the Bobcats' biggest problem on the defensive line. Three starters return -- end Jodan Norfleet and tackles Blake McColloch and Deshun Williams -- but there isn't much proven depth behind them.
"Back in the 2011 season, Texas State really didn't have a formidable four-man front that could rush the passer and put any pressure on the football," Thibodeaux said. "Defensive line was a big issue. They hope some of the JUCO guys they brought in mid-term are going to help ease the pain a little bit and get some pressure on the quarterback."
Many expected rising-junior quarterback Tyler Arndt to transfer following the 2011 season. Shaun Rutherford started eight of Texas State's 12 games last fall and was widely expected to be the team's full-time starter this fall. Arndt, to his credit, stuck around and made a big impression during spring football.
"Tyler's really taken in exactly what offensive coordinator Mike Schultz has been teaching him," Thibodeaux said. "You can tell that Tyler's gotten more confident in his game, in his injured knee that he's been rehabbing. He just looks like the kid that came out of Cuero that everyone knew -- he was a slinger, a good pocket passer, a guy that could read defenses and lead you down the field to score."
In fact, there's talk that Arndt may have worked his way to the forefront of the Bobcats' quarterback conversation.
"Sitting on the outside looking in," Thibodeaux said, "I think he's got to at least be your 1A, 1B starter coming into fall camp. He just looked like the more reliable option."
Heading into its first season in the FBS, the biggest question mark with Texas State is on defense.
"You have question marks at linebacker," Thibodeaux said. "You have some guys in there that do good jobs, but it's hard to see them as good fits for the 4-2-5 defense. You're just asking a little more than what they can do in terms of a linebacker in that defense. I think Texas State's going to get some help with a couple of JUCO guys that are coming in at linebacker.
"You've also got to go with the front four, too. It's just a gaping hole right now. You lost Michael Ebbitt, the guy who was your sack leader, and you need to fill that hole as well as providing depth along the line."
? Missed Significant Time: CB Craig Mager (broken arm), QB Shaun Rutherford (shoulder).
? Position Switches: Jeff Clermond (OL to DL), Adley Eshraghipour (OL to DL), Chase Harper (TE to DE).
? Schedule Note: Texas State won't leave the state of Texas at all in September; they open on the road against Houston, but close out the month with home games against Texas Tech, Stephen F. Austin and Nevada. While competition will ease up once the team reaches October, four of their team's next six games will be on the road.
? Miscellaneous: QB Tyler Arndt completed 13-of-19 passes for 218 yards during Texas State's spring game. ... Former Texas A&M OL commit Adrian Bellard signed with the Bobcats in February and should crack the team's two-deep if he qualifies academically.
WAY-TOO-EARLY LINE: Texas Tech -16.5
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