As the 2-7 (0-5 in the Sun Belt Conference) Texas State Bobcats embark on their last final competition away from home, Everett Withers reflected upon a time where he was personally in a very similar situation in terms of rebuilding a program from the ground up.
The year was 2007 and the school was the University of Minnesota. Everett withers was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach to Tim Brewster. That year the team went 1-11 before going to back-to-back bowl games the following seasons.
“Exact same situation,” Withers said. “Bad culture, not a lot of talent. Our starting MIKE linebacker was a walk-on fullback the year before. What happened is we hammered recruiting…That program started exactly like this one…It grew because of recruiting and staying the course. The groundwork had been laid for the next guy and then boom. All of a sudden they take off and their competing and are in bowl games nearly every year. I look at that and I look at where we are now – very, very similar. I’m one of those guys who loves building.”
Awaiting the Bobcats on Saturday is the 2-7 (1-4 SBC) New Mexico State Aggies. It’s a very winnable game for Texas State and the final time this team will galvanize on the road, this time in Las Cruces.
It’s well established Withers likes playing on the road. After all, the Bobcats earned its biggest win of the season away from home against the Ohio Bobcats.
“It’s all about the brotherhood and fellowship of your teammates and you’re going to fight for each other,” Withers said of playing on the road.
The Aggies’ best player is likely junior running back Larry Rose III, who leads the team with 590 yards rushing with a 5.0 yards per carry average.
“I would say he is the best back in our league,” Withers said. “He is a very good runner with very good vision. It’s going to be a big challenge. What is going to be big is our front guys and our really our outside linebackers being able to handle some of the cutback run lanes for us.”
As Texas State fights for just its third win of the season, Withers knew this year was going to be a challenge to compete for a conference title. With fewer than 70 scholarship players, execution has to practically be flawless, Withers expressed.
“We’ve got to do nearly all the right things to give ourselves a chance to win right now,” he said.
As for the current state of the Texas State football program, Withers said the groundwork is there.
Yes – this was a rebuilding year. But Texas State is slowly molding into what the university brass hopes turns into a conference powerhouse.
Withers and the Bobcats boast the No. 1 recruiting class in the SBC, giving fans, alums, players and coaches alike reason to be excited for the future.
“You go recruit to a culture and you don’t let people change your plan,” Withers said. “We got to keep going and finish it off. We’re not a finished product obviously in the culture area either yet, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN3 and heard on 1300 AM in Austin, 89.9 FM in San Marcos and 630 AM in San Antonio.