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Budding Bobcats Get the Nod

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When New Orleans Saints safety Vonn Bell was a freshman at Ohio State, he helped teach then-defensive coordinator Everett Withers a lesson: Let talent, not experience, dictate who plays on Saturdays.

Rather than start the more talented Bell, Withers felt more comfortable playing a tenured senior. Then after a 34–24 loss to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten Conference Championship game (Urban Meyer’s first loss as the Buckeyes’ head coach) Myer told him to “play the freshman.”

“It was kind of that security blanket that I had with the senior,” Withers said. “He wasn’t nearly as talented as the young guy and it didn’t hurt us until we got to the Big Ten Championship game when we lost. That senior got isolated and gave up a couple of plays.


“In the Orange Bowl I started the freshman and (Bell) got an interception. He left Ohio State after his junior year and I think he’s the starting safety for the New Orleans Saints right now. So we’re going to put our young guys in the game and watch them play, make mistakes and get better.”

Fast forward three years and Withers is a more enlightened coach. This week he challenged his staff to identify the young, talented players and put them in the game.

The future depends on it.

“We’ve got to start evaluating where some of these guys are so when we go into the offseason we know exactly what they need to work on so we can be better heading into spring ball next year,” Withers said. “I’m looking for guys with juice and who love the game and have that competitive spirit about them. That’s what we have to have on our team and we got to go recruit that.”

Last week Withers saw some of that fight in a 35-10 loss to Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

As for Texas State’s (2-6, 0-4 Sun Belt) opponent this week, the Idaho Vandals come to Bobcat Stadium touting a 5-4 overall record with a 3-2 conference mark, which places them fourth in the league.

And while Texas State is in rebuilding mode, Idaho is trending upward, especially after a 23-13 win last week at Louisiana-Lafayette.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to watch some of those young guys against Idaho and try to get better and go into the last four weeks of our season to try and make some improvements,” Withers said. “They are a well-coached team. To go into Lafayette on the road and beat them on homecoming is pretty impressive. They play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They have a sound scheme on offense, they want to be balanced, they run the ball well, and the quarterback is a really good player. Defensively they are good up front. What’s really impressed me is that this team seems to have gotten better as the year’s gone on.”

The game will be televised on Spectrum Sports and ESPN3 with Marc Hoenig calling the play-by-play and Bucky Godbolt serving as the analyst and can be heard on 1300 AM in Austin, 89.9 FM in San Marcos and 930 AM in San Antonio.

Notebook:

  • Idaho’s quarterback is junior Matt Linehan, son of Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator, Scott, who also played the position for the Vandals. His brother, Mike, is a freshman linebacker on the team as well.
  • The Bobcats and Vandals share a 4-4 record against each other in a series that began Sept. 8, 1990 in San Marcos.
  • Idaho tied the series last season when the Bobcats dropped a 38-31 decision in Moscow on November 28, 2015.
  • Senior quarterback Tyler Jones enters the Idaho game having set a career record for most completions with 761 after completing 28 passes at Appalachian State last week.
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