Texas State football (1-7 overall, 1-3 Sun Belt) will look to get its first home win of the season against the Appalachian State Mountaineers (4-1 overall, 2-0 Sun Belt) Nov. 7.
The Bobcats are fourth in the West Division and are on a five-game losing streak. The Mountaineers are second in the East Division and are riding a three-game win streak; the Mountaineers are 2-1 on the road.
The Bobcats' defense will have its hands full for this week's matchup against a stout Mountaineer offense ranked 14th in total offense and averages 34.8 points per game.
The App State offense is led by senior quarterback Zac Thomas, who Texas State Head Coach Jake Spavital speaks highly of.
"[Thomas has] seen it all [and] done it all," Spavital said. "Rightfully so he deserves to be the Player of the Year. I just love how he manages the style of play... He has good poise in there and he has that ability to extend the play."
Thomas is fifth in the Sun Belt in passing yards per game, averaging 194.2 passing this season and 48.6 yards on the ground per game.
The Bobcat offense has been averaging 361.8 total yards of offense, led by its quarterback duo of sophomore Brady McBride and junior Tyler Vitt. McBride has been the starter for the majority of the season, but after several errors in last week's game, Spavital says the starting spot is open.
"We opened [the starting quarterback] up this week and [McBride and Vitt] were repping with both [the] ones and twos," Spavital said. "Brady just needs to keep playing... We are a 1-7 team right now, and it's all about getting out there learning and growing and competing as best you can."
The offense has been moving with its running game led by running backs freshman Calvin Hill and sophomore Brock Sturges. Sturges is coming off an impressive game where he carried the ball 17 times and rushed for 126 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel leads the team in receptions this season and has been complemented by fellow teammate, junior wide receiver Marcell Barbee. Barbee had two receptions for 62 receiving yards in last week's loss to Louisiana.
Appalachian State's junior running back Daetrich Harrington will be someone the Bobcats will have to contain if they hope to have any success in winning this football game. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and is already at 482 rushing yards on the season. The Mountaineers have a "run and shoot" offensive style, relying on its front seven to move up the field.
Texas State is low on manpower; injuries have taken their toll on the team as the season has progressed. Against Louisiana, both sophomore tight end Jackson Lanam and senior linebacker Gavin Graham went out with injuries. Though it is too early to be certain, both players are likely to miss the remainder of the season, according to Spavital.
The Bobcats are coming off a hard-fought home loss against Louisiana where they lost 44-34. The Ragin' Cajun offense was able to get a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter, but the Bobcats were able to tie up the game, and even hold a short lead, heading into the second. By the end of the second quarter, the Cajun offense was able to capitalize on three interceptions and score 24 points.
The Bobcats scored a touchdown in the third quarter to get within a 10-point deficit, but the Cajuns scored another touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Bobcats would score late in the fourth, but it was too little too late.
Spavital says the difference-maker in the game was too many errors by the Bobcats in the second half.
"We made more critical mistakes than they did, and against a team like Louisiana you just can't do that," Spavital said. "The kids are playing hard and making it competitive, but we've got to eliminate those critical mistakes and minimize as many of those as possible. That's how you beat good teams."
The Mountaineers are 5-0 all-time against the Bobcats and have put up 35 points or more in each of the last two meetings between the teams. The last meeting between the two schools, Nov. 23, 2019, saw Appalachian State win 35-13.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium.