Notebook: Defensive miscues flare up again in loss to Cougars

Sports Editor

Texas State’s defense had already set the bar low.

Somehow, the unit found a way to reach a new low in the 59-14 loss to Houston at TDECU Stadium.

Recurring issues resurfaced against the Cougars – missed tackles, inability to contain the quarterback, allowing too many long-yardage plays, remaining on the field for too long. The list goes on and on.

The only thing that has remained consistent over four games is the opposition putting up points.

Greg Ward Jr., Cougars junior quarterback, skirted defenders from sideline to sideline. He nimbly contorted the defense into doing what he wanted them to do. In all, he averaged 11.8 yards per play.

Ward Jr. picked up 375 yards, nearly outgaining the entire Texas State offense (401 yards) in just three quarters.

For the defense, the losses and numbers keep piling up. Houston tallied 689 total yards and 59 points, both numbers up from the shellacking against Southern Mississippi.

One third of the season has passed and there hasn’t been many silver linings on the defensive side. As it stands, Texas State’s defense is giving up

At some point, it’s fair to wonder whether the defense has reached the point of no return.

Is the defense who we thought they would be or the unit that they currently are?

“We’ve done it four games in a row now,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “Sometimes you get to point to where you are what you are. We’re going to try to fix that.”

Injuries: Texas State’s defense was without Tim Gay, senior linebacker, and three defensive tackles in the game. Mershad Dillon, senior defensive tackle, exited the game in the first quarter. He needed assistance from two trainers to hobble the field, leaving Texas State's defensive line rotation bare. That doesn’t explain everything, but treading without three starting players isn’t easy especially for a underperforming defense.

"We left some good players home that will get healthy and get back," Franchione said. "That hurt but that wasn't the difference in the game and I don't want it to sound like any kind of excuse."

Interception-less streak snapped: Prior to Saturday night, Tyler Jones had thrown 233 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to Georgia Southern last year. His streak ended at the hands of Houston. William Jackson III returned one of his passes for a 35-yard touchdown the other way and Jones threw another interception.

Running game (or lack thereof): Jones remains the leading rusher this season and that isn’t ideal. Rob Lowe, senior running back, and Chris Nutall, senior running back, have yet to succeed against a non-FCS opponent this season.

Through four games, Lowe and Nutall have combined for 369 rushing yards. Lowe, who rushed for 1,091 yards in his junior season, is on pace for 730 rushing yards this year.