2019 Texas State Defensive Preview

Courtesy Texas State athletics

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Looking at the last name of Jake Spavital’s defensive coordinator, one might assume the negotiation process was easy.

But recruiting Zac Spavital, Jake’s brother, to San Marcos wasn’t as simple as it sounds.

“I didn’t think I was going to get him to be honest with you,” Jake Spavital said.

Bigger programs, higher paying jobs and NFL positions wanted Zac too, but he took the opportunity to be a coordinator for the first time.

Zac inherits one of the most experienced defenses in the nation. Per SB Nation, Texas State is third in the country in returning defensive production for a unit that was already Top 40 in advanced passing and rushing metrics. The key cog is still all-conference senior linebacker Bryan London who’s been the lifeblood of the defense for going on four seasons. With him, is a linebacking unit that outclasses the rest of the conference in Nik Daniels, senior Clifton Lewis and sixth-year senior Frankie Griffin.

Texas State kept plays in front of them. The team only had a -5 turnover margin and only 18 takeaways but predicated themselves on being sure-tacklers in space and not allowing the big play, good enough to rank 22nd in the nation in plays of 20 yards or more allowed (3.7 per game).

But that’s in contrast to what Zac Spavital’s roots under former Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs who lived off turnovers.

“We’re figuring that out,” Zac Spavital said. “We’re trying to find our identity as coaches as well.”

But change isn’t new to a unit that’s seen now three coordinators in three seasons.

“We haven’t been as successful as I want so it’s hard to say, ‘No I’m going to stick to this way and be stubborn,’ when I haven’t seen the results I wanted so it’s just like approaching every day with an open mind,” senior Bryan London said.

In the secondary, Texas State has one of the most promising units in the Sun Belt. Sophomore Jarron Marris was a revelation as a true freshman. He combined with senior safety JaShon Waddy for 13 pass deflections a year ago. They’ll team with Kordell Rogers, Anthony Taylor and Josh Newman to form a potent defensive backfield.

Up front, the defensive line is anchored by two athletic and versatile linemen in in junior Caeveon Patton and senior Ishmael Davis.

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