Game Day Preview: Application Status at Texas State


By Bret Strelow | Application Status Athletics


In early September, after playing to a sold-out home crowd, App State traveled to Texas A&M.

It’s early October and after playing to three other sold-out crowds at home, App State is heading to the state of Texas.

A win over the sixth-ranked Aggies was memorable, but that’s history, especially with the Sun Belt Conference standings affected by the outcome of this weekend’s game.

App State’s pursuit for a conference title continues Saturday against the Bobcats, with the ESPN+ game kicking off at 7 p.m. ET (or 6 p.m. in San Marcos). The current forecast calls for a temperature of 88 degrees and partly cloudy conditions at the start of the game.

On a whim of the schedule, the Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1) will enter mid-October having only played in Boone or Texas State.

“It’s going to be a big deal for us to be on the road,” the App State head coach said. Shawn Clark said. “We like to play at home with three home games in a row, three sold out crowds, but to hit the road you go to the airport, you get on the plane, you get to the hotel and you pass from dinner to meetings. to your hotel room with a chance to relax. We’ll get up on Saturday morning, have breakfast and can go back to your hotel room, watch College GameDay and enter our ritual before -match.

“It’s going to be good for everyone in our program to be on the road again and to have that camaraderie and have a little fun. Playing at the Citadel, we had fun as a team of football – attacking, defensive and special teams – and it was good to see.”

Each of App State’s first two championship games ended 32-28, as the Mountaineers beat Troy on a Hail Mary pass and then couldn’t build on a 28 lead. -3 against James Madison. As a freshman FBS member, the Dukes are ineligible for the playoffs, so App State can still achieve their primary goals, like winning an East Division title and capturing the Sun Belt championship.

The state of Texas, like Troy, is in the western division of the Sun Belt. With improved defense and a more balanced offense, the Bobcats (2-3, 0-1) opened head coach Jake Spavital’s fourth season with a 38-14 loss at Nevada and followed up with a home win of 41-12 against FIU with a 42-7 loss to No. 17 Baylor. Texas State won 34-0 over Houston Christian and committed four turnovers in a 40-13 loss at JMU to open Sun Belt’s game.

Layne Hatcher, who played App State as Arkansas State quarterback in 2019, 2020 and 2021, averaged 241.4 passing yards per game in his first five games for Texas. State. He threw for 11 touchdowns and six interceptions, with 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver Ashtyn Hawkins’ 37 catches (at 9.0 yards per catch), giving him 24 more than the second-highest total in the team.

Clark called 5-8, 185-pound Calvin Hill (61.5 rushing yards per game, 4.5 yards per rush) one of the best running backs in the Sun Belt, while Lincoln Pare (44.8 yards per game , 4.6 yards per carry) is another Arkansas State Transfer. He led the Red Wolves in rushing last season.

After averaging 27.3 rushing attempts per game in Spavital’s first season, the average has risen to 31.0 in 2020 and 36.8 in 2021.

“They’re multi-dimensional,” said Clark, who considers Spavital a good friend. “They can make it work. They can run it. Jake does a good job of spreading the football and getting you to cover the whole pitch. … He was the head coach there for four years, and every year, he’s there, they’ve been running the ball more and more.”

App State is coming off its first defensive shutout since the 2017 playoffs and its seventh shutout at the FBS level — the fifth-highest total in the nation since 2014, behind only Alabama’s 12, Georgia’s 11, the 10 from Wisconsin and the eight from Clemson. Ke Sean Brown, tyler bird, Andre Parker, Steven Jones Jr., Nick Hampton, Logan Doublin, Kevon Haigler and Donovan Spellman all stopped behind the line of scrimmage in the 49-0 win.

App State’s offense rebounded from a quiet second half against JMU to score touchdowns on seven of 10 possessions against The Citadel.

After throwing four touchdown passes (and scoring on a touchdown run) against the Bulldogs, Chase Brice is one of four FBS quarterbacks with at least 15 touchdowns and less than three interceptions. Other quarterbacks on this list are UNC’s Drake Maye, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman.

The Texas State defense has forced nine turnovers this season, and cornerback Kordell Rodgers has accounted for four of the defense’s five interceptions.

Defensive tackle Levi Bell, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, leads the team with 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. Three-year-old outside linebacker and starter Jordan Revels added 5.5 tackles for the loss.

“They’re probably one of the most improved defense teams in our conference,” Clark said. “They’ve been able to get transfers and fill in some holes they needed to have. They’re multiple in defense and can really rush the passer. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

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