Coming off of a 42-3 loss at the hands of Arkansas, things do not get easier for the Texas State Bobcats. They are now faced with the challenge of playing against the number six (AP Poll) ranked team in the country and a team that can score on both sides of the ball.
Houston struggled a little bit last week against Cincinnati, however, they were able to gut out a win, thanks in large part to their quarterback and their defensive scoring capability. Today we are going to look at six players, three on offense and three on defense, of who to watch for in Saturday’s match up against the Cougars.
Quarterback Greg Ward Jr.
2016 Stats-47/76, 61.8% completion, 647 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, rating of 141.1
Greg Ward Jr. can hurt you with his legs or his arm. Just when you think you have the Cougars stopped, he finds a way to make a play. he tends to have a knack for that.
His speed is remarkable and when the pocket collapses around him, he uses that to his advantage like no other. Texas State has learned this before firsthand.
It looked as though the Bobcats were going to get a stop, instead Ward Jr. broke out for big gain. Texas State is going to have their hands full with just ward alone, to say the least. Oh and if you happen to contain him and keep him in the pocket, he is fine using his arm to connect with one of his receivers to move the ball downfield as well.
Running Back Duke Calaton
2016 Stats-38 attempts, 155 yards rushing, 0 TD, 9 catches, 49 yards, 1TD
Duke Calaton was once a Texas Longhorn, but ultimately decided that the University was not the best fit for him once arriving. After sitting out for a redshirt season in 2014 at Texas, then transferring to Houston in 2015, Calaton sat out one more year due to NCAA transfer rules.
He now finds himself as the feature back for the Cougars and punishes defenses in the ground and air game. Although he does not have any rushing touchdowns yet, don’t be surprised if you see him find the endzone multiple times on Saturday night.
Wide Receiver Linell Bonner
2016 Stats-15 catches, 228 yards, 15.2 YPC, 0 TD
Linell Bonner posted 317 yards and five receiving touchdowns total in 2015. While he does not have any touchdowns yet, he is 89 yards away from tying last years yard total in just three games.
Bonner has come into this season ready to go and it is showing on the playing field. Last week against Cincinnati, Bonner led the way for the team with 119 receiving yards on eight receptions. Not to mention this ridiculous catch he had against Oklahoma in week one.
This is a great example of how Ward Jr. and Bonner can make plays, even when the play breaks down for their team.
Outside Linebacker Steven Taylor
2016 Stats-21 total tackles, 11 solo, 6 TFL, 5.5 Sacks, 1 INT (returned 74 yards for a TD), 1 Forced fumble
Steven Taylor is one of two Cougar players who has returned an interception for a touchdown this year and both came at a time when the Cougs needed it the most. They were locked in a battle with Cincinnati when Taylor (and Howard Wilson, more on this later) intercepted a pass and took it back to the house to put the nail in the coffin for the Bearcats.
He leads the team in tackles, tackles for a loss, quarterback sacks (also first in the nation) and is tied with three others for fumbles forced. He has a quarterback sack in five consecutive games coming into this week and has had two sacks per game in all three games this season.
Taylor is a beast and Tyler Jones could get to know him very well if the Bobcats offensive line isn’t on their A game this weekend.
Linebacker Matthew Adams
2016 Stats-20 total tackles, 11 solo, 3 TFL, 1 FF
Matthew Adams has matched the play of Taylor and is second on the team in total tackles and tackles for loss. He is also tied with three others on the team for most forced fumbles.
Houston has impressively allowed just 38.3 rush yards per game thanks in large part of the play of Adams, Taylor and the entire defensive line. Head Coach Tom Herman gave credit to the defensive line at his weekly press conference on Monday, but he also understands that it is in part of the play of his linebackers as well.
DB/CB Howard Wilson
2016 Stats-10 total tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT (1 returned 28 yards for a TD)
Howard Wilson’s pick six was what you could say officially closed the door on any type of comeback that Cincinnati had planned. Earlier in the game, the Cougars team leader in interceptions, also had another interception and head coach Tom Herman gave him some praise at his weekly presser as well.
“Howard was our co-defensive player of the game along with Steven Taylor,” said Herman. “The pick-6 was icing on the cake. The interception a couple of drives prior to that, when we were only up by 3, to give the offensive the ball again to go up by 10 was huge. It was probably the play of the game. We are going to need that. We don’t have William Jackson. We need these guys to continue to develop and play to the maximum of their abilities.”
All photos courtesy of Houston Cougars, ESPN, Associated Press or OKNews.com