WACO, TX – The fans had heard it before.
A new coach was set to bring in a high-flying, fast-moving offense to San Marcos. When he was announced as Texas State’s 21st head coach in December, G.J. Kinne faced an upward battle with the failing public perception of a struggling program.
After beating Baylor 42-31 on Saturday night, his team became the first Texas State team ever to beat a Power Five program. Previously, the Bobcats had been 0-26.
Promises made, promises kept
“I told the guys it's a new era of Texas State football, I think those guys came out with a bang, they believed,” Kinne said. “Just really happy for our players and the University. This is a big-time win beating a Big 12 opponent on the road in our first game.”
It didn’t start pretty though: Texas State’s first series ended with three plays and a punt to Baylor. Bobcat faithful hearts across the country sank. It was the sort of feeling alums, sports fans and others had grown accustomed to over the years in the pre-SBC play.
Had the hype for #TakeBackTexas been too real? Was Baylor #Back?
Those questions raced and then, lightning struck.
San Marcos, you have a quarterback. His name is TJ Finley. It was the question everyone had been asking in the moments leading up to the game: Who would take the first snap?
The former Auburn and LSU Tiger started under center and threw for 298 yards with a 73 percent completion rate and even called his own number for a score on the ground.
“We didn’t really know (who would take the first snap) Malik (Hornsby) had a really good fall camp Kinne said. “It was back and forth, it really was … TJ had a really good night, TJ’s a pro. There are a lot of things we got to clean up from tonight. We turned the ball over too many times and put the ball in jeopardy too many times.”
There were two Texas-sized miracles across the Lone Star State on Saturday that proved that maybe the transfer portal isn’t the death of college football. The only school with more transfers than Texas State is Colorado, coached by Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Sanders, with his numerous transfers, who turned out to be Louis Vuitton-level players, stunned the reigning national runners up Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.
It’s a similar Saturday ending for two schools looking to rewrite their school’s histories with like-minded ideals about the recruiting process and a quarterback who can really lace the ball. Finley was one of 50+ newcomers to the team who have seemingly gelled perfectly.
“We recruited quality guys, big-time men of character,” Kinne said “They want to win, I think everyone had a chip on their shoulder, a lot of these guys had been wrote off by other programs and they come here and are starting and are making a contribution, it’s a credit to them and our coaching staff.
In the air, it was Joey Hobert who emerged as another Star transfer for the ‘Cats. The former Utah Tech receiver had 105 yards on the night with a touchdown. The Bears seemingly locked-in on star receiver Ashtyn Hawkins who was targeted a total of eight times but held to just 58 yards after a few deep ball drops and misfirings.
On defense for the ‘Cats, the team was electric within 30 yards and forced Baylor to take three field goals. The lone interception of the game for Texas State was made by UIW transfer Shawn Holton in the endzone, which sealed the game.
“I let Shawn Holton break out the huddle on Friday after our fast Friday, Kinne said. “And I thought ‘I’ve been to war with this guy before and he’s going to make a big-time play' and he did.”
At Sun Belt Media Days, people questioned whether or not the UIW-style offense could truly transfer over. For Kinne, that answer is easy.
“I mean we had the number one offense in the country, I don’t know why we would change it,” Kinne said.
The question remains: Why not Texas State?
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