College Football: Bobcats open spring practice today

All the talk of an up-tempo, spread offense coming to Texas State appears to more than a rumor.

Head coach Dennis Franchione spoke Monday about changes he wants to make to an offense that sputtered down the stretch as the Bobcats finished with a 6-6 record in its first season in the Sun Belt Conference. In order to compete with the top teams in the SBC, Franchione felt like an up-tempo scheme was his best option.

“I’ve always wanted to run that since I got here,” Franchione said during Monday’s press conference. “We ran 64 plays per game last year. We’d like to jump up to 75-78 (plays).”

During the offseason, Franchione looked at offenses from 12 different colleges and was impressed by a few things, namely how lethal Gus Malzahn’s wing-T offense was at Auburn last season and the 113 plays BYU ran in 47-46 win over Houston last October.

“When you look at up-tempo teams like Tech or Auburn, you’d like to think if you run 15 more plays you’re going to score more points and get more possessions in there,” Franchione said. “That’s what we hope happens.”

When Texas State opens spring practice today, soon-to-be sophomore quarterback Tyler Jones will lead the new offensive scheme. Jones emerged in a win over Wyoming last season and played well for a freshman with 1,130 passing yards along with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Franchione expects that with the benefit of spring practice Jones will take a step forward in his growth as a quarterback.

“Fundamentally, he (Jones) was not right last year,” Franchione said. “The thing about spring practice is you can go a little slower and teach fundamentals in-depth. Tyler certainly needs all of those things and if he can improve his fundamentals he’ll be even better as a quarterback.”

While switching to new offensive scheme dominated the talk during Monday’s press conference, it started off with Franchione making it official that former Arkansas State assistant John Thompson will be leading the Bobcat defense into the 2014 season.

Thompson will replace Craig Naivar, who left for Kentucky in the offseason. Naivar’s decision to take the Wildcats’ special teams job ended up delaying spring practice by almost three weeks, while Franchione and his staff scrambled to fill the team’s vacant coordinator slot.

Thompson’s defense at A-State ranked 58th in the nation last season in points per game (26.2). That number dipped to 23.1 points per game in conference play, which was good enough for third in the SBC. The Red Wolves tallied 26 sacks last season, which ranked second in the SBC. Texas State had 18 sacks last season, which was next to last.

“The multiplicity he brings will be a plus,” Franchione said of Thompson’s defense. “He can bring pressure from different areas. He makes it simple for us and confusing for opposing offenses. We’ll merge our defensive styles together from what we’ve been doing to John’s ideas.”

Thompson was one of two coaching changes in the offseason as Texas State also brought Brad Bedell from A-State. Bedell will be the Bobcats’ offensive line coach in 2014.

“I always say a little bit of turnover is a good thing because it brings in fresh ideas,” Franchione said. “They (Bedell and Thompson) have been around the Sun Belt. They know the conference. This won’t be their first rodeo.”

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