New Mexico Is Stand-In for Bobcats’ Festering Horns Fantasy
Lobos stomped by UT. Can Texas State follow suit?
By Joe O'Connell, 4:10PM, Fri. Oct. 5, 2012
All proud graduates of the school that shall forever be known as Southwest Texas State dream of the day when the Texas State Bobcats finally get a chance to be shellacked by the Texas Longhorns. Or just maybe …
We have only to look back to 1976, our Bicentennial Year, to realize the possibilities. The No. 7 Longhorns opened their season with 13-14 loss at Boston College. Then North Texas came to town and kept the game against No. 16 Texas close in the waning minutes. The score was 17-14 and the Mean Green were driving. It took an athletic move in the end zone to knock the ball away and seal a Texas win. That was an omen of a 5-5-1 season that would mark Darrell Royal’s last year as coach. Substitute North Texas with Texas State and you see the dream deferred.
For now, we’ll settle for New Mexico as our one degree of Kevin Bacon separation. The Horns drubbed New Mexico 45-0 a few weeks ago. The Lobos have won more games this year — two — than in the preceding three and are darn proud of it. They’ve been stinking up FBS (big-time football!) long before the Bobcats made the leap to the next level. In other words, look for Texas State to do what its snooty neighbors to the north did a few weeks ago. OK, it won’t be a shutout, but there’s no reason not to expect a win. Bobcat QB Shaun Rutherford doesn’t have a W in his name, but he’s capable of lighting up the field this Saturday with missiles to Isaiah Battle and newly discovered threat Andy Erickson, who had eight catches for 108 yards and one touchdown against Nevada. If ball carrier Marcus Curry can get back to the level he showed against the University of Houston, Rutherford should be a general with many options, including his own fleet feet. And if Rutherford can’t do it, his backup Tyler Arndt can — particularly if Texas State can keep the momentum going in the second half.
That’s where it fell apart last week against a pistol-packin’ Nevada team. The Bobcats went into halftime up 21-20 and then stank up Bobcat Stadium in the second half as they were held to 84 total yards. Rutherford could do nothing. Arndt came in and did even less. Nevada’s dual ground threat of Stefphon Jefferson and QB Cody Fajardo led to great passing opportunities for Fajardo out of the pistol.
New Mexico also features a potent running attack led by Kasey Carrier. Passing? Not so much. At QB, senior B.R. Holbrook and freshman Cole Gautsche are much more likely to hand off the ball or keep it than to toss it up. That’s where the opportunity lies this week for the Bobcats. Will they take advantage of it on the road in quirky Albuquerque?
If they don’t, it won’t be from a lack of knowledge. The Lobos and the Bobcats are incestuously inbred country cousins and it’s Homecoming Weekend in Albuquerque. The New Mexico brethren worship Texas State Coach Dennis Franchione as the gridiron messiah they hired away from Southwest Texas State in 1992. He led them to a 9-4 record in 1997 that propelled them to their first bowl game in 36 years. Much of Franchione’s current coaching crew was with him in Lobo-land, including co-offensive coordinators Mike Shultz and Jeff Conway, o-line coach Dennis Darnell, defensive coordinator Craig Naivar, defensive line coach Mike Hudson and anointed son and special teams coordinator Brad Franchione. New Mexico’s offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse is a former Texas State head coach. Oh, and the Lobo’s head coach is some guy named Bob Davie. Haven’t I heard that name before? Somewhere? Will he get invited to the reunion party?
The truth is the Lobos make a decent opponent for the Bobcats this year. Both have been pummeled by Texas Tech this season. Both teams have won two games, and New Mexico showed a lot of sparks in a 32-29 loss to Boise State last week. The danger signs for the Bobcats should be the Lobo defense, which recovered two fumbles against Boise State and stopped the Broncos twice in the red zone. They’re still the team that the Texas Longhorns stomped, but maybe that’s just what the Bobcats need right now.