The Texas State Bobcats will be trying to put an end to a four-game losing streak when they visit the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Malone Stadium on Saturday night. Texas State is coming off consecutive setbacks against South Alabama, Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Georgia Southern. The Warhawks halted a four-game skid of their own by beating Coastal Carolina this past weekend.
Issues on offense
Texas State has lost four straight games has dropped seven in succession against Sun Belt Conference competition dating back to last year. The Bobcats’ most recent setback was no fault of their defense, as they allowed just two field goals and one touchdown in a 15-13 loss to Georgia Southern (the Eagles also had a safety, giving them 15 total points). Texas State freshman quarterback Tyler Vitt started against GSU but was replaced by sophomore Willie Jones III in the second half. Vitt, however, returned to finish the game in the fourth quarter. Head coach Everett Withers noted that the freshman was struggling mainly because of a lack of protection from the offensive line.
“Tyler is doing the best he can; we’ve got to protect him better,” Withers noted. “We’ve got to be able to run the football so that he can be effective throwing the football. That’s the only way you throw the football. You can’t just drop back or they are just going to tee off and rush you and blitz you from all different angles…. Tyler struggled because we couldn’t run it.”
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It is not yet clear if there will be a change at the starting quarterback position, and the same can be said of the offensive play-calling. Offensive coordinator Zack Kuhr has been calling the plays, but Withers hinted that he might change things up this week against Louisiana-Monroe. When asked about a rumor that quarterbacks coach Brett Elliott had been calling plays, Withers responded, “Brett hasn’t been calling plays….He might start.”
All three phases
For really the first time this season, Louisiana-Monroe played a complete game in all three phases to hammer Coastal Carolina 45-20 last weekend. On offense, the Warhawks were a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone (including four touchdowns to go along with one field goal). They rushed for 242 total yards and quarterback Caleb Evans passed for 224, making for the team’s most balanced attack of this 2018 campaign. Running back Derrick Gore delivered a career-best 147 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. ULM’s defense came up with five sacks. Linebacker David Griffith made eight tackles (2.5 for loss) and forced a fumble. Defensive end Sam Miller recovered a fumble with 1:27 to play that sealed the victory, while freshman safety Jabari Johnson had an interception in the red zone to halt a Chanticleers drive. Kicker Craig Ford made his only field goal and all six of his PATs.
“Everything that we’ve been talking about the first half of the season fell into place in that game,” offensive coordinator Matt Kubik praised. “Obviously, we’d love for it to carry over these next five games. Like [head coach Matt Viator] said, it’s a one-game-at-a-time mentality but we did some things we definitely think can carry over through the next couple weeks.”
The Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five overall
- 1-4 ATS in their last five home games
- 2-6 ATS in their last eight games against the Sun Belt Conference
The Texas State Bobcats are:
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight road games against teams with losing home records
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games on grass
- 8-3 Under in their last 11 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Texas State played last Thursday night, giving it some extra time to prepare for Louisiana-Monroe. The Bobcats may be hard-pressed to pull off an upset, but getting more than a touchdown and a field goal should be enough to cover. It is worth noting that the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head matchups.
Prediction: Texas State Bobcats
Full-Game Total Pick
The Bobcats are third in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense (367 yards per game). Linebackers Bryan London II and Nikolas Daniels are among the conference top-10 tacklers, and London’s 58 tackles are good for No. 1 in the SBC. Out of 10 teams in the Sun Belt, Texas State ranks ninth in total offense and scoring–averaging 333.8 total yards and 22.5 points per game. The under is 8-3 in the Bobcats’ last 11 on the road and 4-0 in their last four on grass. It is also 6-2 in the Warhawks’ last eight overall. Look for this one to stay under the total.