Texas State University football has never played a Pac-12 opponent. Period. That changes this Saturday when the Bobcats (1-0) travel to Folsom Field in Boulder for their first-ever meeting with the Colorado Buffaloes (1-0).
Coming off their home-opening win (20-11) over Houston Baptist (another first-time opponent), the Everett Withers’ team will face what may be its biggest challenge of the 2017 season with a visit to the Mile-High altitude.
At least the fist-game jitters are out of the way, however.
“The first game mistakes, jitters, mental errors were in play,” Withers said of last week’s victory. “But I thought the kids played really hard…Obviously you’d like to be able to go win and then try to correct those mistakes.”
After a sluggish start to the game last week, the Bobcats bounced back later in the contest and played with poise. Defense seemingly paved the way for a victory with senior linebacker Easy Anyama, who was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week, recording five solo tackles, the first two quarterback sacks of his career, forced a fumble and blocked an extra-point attempt against Houston Baptist.
“I felt like we settled down. We started to communicate and play faster and handle responsibility and job description really well, especially in the second half,” Withers said.
Turning its attention now to Colorado, the main goal for the defense is to reign in the Colorado rushing attack, headed by senior running back Phillip Lindsay. Last week in the Buffaloes’ 17-3 win over Colorado State, Lindsay rushed 19 times for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Steven Montez completed 21-of-29 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the opener versus CSU.
“They’re a phenomenal rushing football team and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve got a 6-3, 6-4 quarterback sitting back there that can pull the trigger and run himself,” said Texas State Defensive Coordinator, Randall McCray. “We’ve just got to be sound. We’ve got to be assignment sound, we’ve got to make great calls and communicate.”
Mike Maclntyre is in his fifth year as the head coach at Colorado with a record of 21-31. Maclntyre was named the head coach in 2012, and is coming off of a 10-4 season in 2016 in which the Buff’s won the Pac-12 South title.
Withers realizes the tall task at hand for his football team, yet admires what MacIntyre has done in his five-year tenure.
“It’s a tough one because they’ve done a great job of building the program with talented players and with depth,” he said. “It’s taken Mike (MacIntyre) several years to get it to that point. They’re athletic, they’ve got speed and size. They are big up front on defense and the offensive line. It’ll be a challenge for us, but it will be something that we get the chance to look at and go compete against because that’s kind of what we’re trying to do to our program – build it in a similar way.”
The second-year head coach says the Buffs are an aggressive group with an excellent linebacker corps. Solid players at all three levels of the defense will force the Texas State offense to play mistake free.
So what are the keys to the game for the Bobcats?
“Defensively we’ve got to not give up big plays,” Withers said. “Offensively we’ve got to take care of the football better than we did last week and we’ve got to keep the chains moving and find a way to keep our defense off the field.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CST on the Pac-12 Network and can be heard on AM 1300 The Zone in Austin, 89.9 FM in San Marcos and 930 AM The Answer in San Antonio.