After Saturday’s first scrimmage was over, Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione wasn’t willing to say how good his offense looked.
Franchione wanted to see the tape from Saturday’s intrasquad game first.
“I thought both sides of the ball had some highlights,” he said. “We had a 14-play drive, which is impressive in this tempo. We got some scores. But when we’re going at this pace, it’s hard to assess some things.”
When Franchione does see tape from Saturday’s scrimmage, he will probably be impressed by a few of things his offense did, especially the play of quarterback Tyler Jones and tailback Robert Lowe.
Jones and Lowe were in midseason form. Jones had a perfect ending to a nearly perfect day when he lofted a pass to tight end Bradley Miller along the right side of the field for a 22-yard touchdown. A wide-open Miller scampered into the end zone untouched.
After the touchdown, Jones and the first-team offense spent the rest of Saturday’s scrimmage watching from the sideline inside Bobcat Stadium. Jones finished the day 13 of 14 for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Here are a five more observations from Saturday’s scrimmage:
1) Lowe is still the star of the offense: There’s no doubt Texas State remains a run-first offense. While Robert Lowe hasn’t seen as much action in spring camp, the junior tailback carried the ball 18 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Lowe showed good form by breaking tackles and being hard to stop. The tailback nearly escaped an arm tackle on what would have been a 66-yard touchdown. Lowe was tripped up but still broke off his longest run of the day — 21 yards.
2) Give credit to the offensive line: After battling youth and inconsistency last season, the first-team offensive front of Adrian Bellard, Ryan Melton, Josh Sell, Hayden Lambert and Felix Romero opened up holes for Robert Lowe to run through. The offensive line also gave Tyler Jones the time he needed to feel comfortable in the pocket. Some credit also goes to new offensive line coach Brad Bedell, who has pushed his group hard so far in spring camp.
3) Pace vs. execution: The Bobcats weren’t on a Saturday stroll. They were on a brisk walk. But, even with that, Texas State wasn’t quite at the pace we’ll see come September. Franchione estimated the Bobcats snapped the ball every 18 to 22 seconds. Tyler Jones thought that number might have been a little higher. Regardless, Franchione isn’t worried.
“I certainly don’t feel bad about it (the pace) at this point in time,” Franchione said. “I don’t want to sacrifice execution to go faster.”
4) Defense good not great: Actually, that’s what defensive coordinator John Thompson told me after Saturday’s scrimmage about the progress his group made from last Saturday’s practice. The Bobcat defense handled the pressure of an up-tempo offense much better during Saturday’s intrasquad game but still allowed 200 yards to the first-team offense in 34 plays. If there’s one thing that’s easy to see about Thompson’s scheme, it’s that the defense is based on confusion. Throughout Saturday’s scrimmage, Texas State switched coverage up and utilized some safety blitzes.
5) Freshman shine on defense: While junior linebacker Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon pilled up a team-high nine tackles during Saturday’s scrimmage, the day belonged to several freshmen. Safety Dominique Williamson led the way with four tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and three pass breakups. Freshman defensive tackle Tyler Agnello had two tackles for loss and a sack.