Coach: Texas State's 3-1 start hasn't been easy, which will help the Bobcats later

Texas State football coach G.J. Kinne said he's happy with the Bobcats' 3-1 record, but that they still have plenty of work to do in order to improve.
Texas State football coach G.J. Kinne said he's happy with the Bobcats' 3-1 record, but that they still have plenty of work to do in order to improve.

SAN MARCOS — Texas State ended its nonconference slate with a winning record, but it wasn’t all easy for the Bobcats.

It started with Texas State’s first ever win over Baylor — 0-9 since 1909 before the 42-31 win to open the season — and ended Saturday with its largest come-from-behind victory since joining the FBS in 2012, beating Nevada 35-24 after trailing 17-0 at halftime. In between was a 20-13 loss in a slugfest with UTSA that saw significant injuries to both teams, followed by an explosive 77-34 home-opening win over Jackson State.

“We’re battle-tested,” Texas State coach G.J. Kinne said. “We’ve played some really good teams. It’s one of those deals where at the beginning you’re like ‘man, I wish we had some easier teams.’ It made us better, I think. We were able to face some adversity. I think we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve just got to make sure we’re getting better and challenging our guys on and off the field. I like where we’re at, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Kinne’s 3-1 start is the best by a first-year coach for the Bobcats since Bob DeBesse started 3-1 in 1997. That means little to Kinne though as he continues to turn up the dial on his players with conference play on the horizon.

“Obviously, I’d like to be 4-0,” he said. “I think it’s like we had our preseason and that’s over. Now it’s like everything is focused on Southern Miss and how we can get better. How can we get guys in the right spot? How can we continue to win? Because that’s our job: to win and get these guys to graduate.

“There’s no let-up. We’ve got to continue to push in every area. We’re class-checking today (Tuesday). We’re class-checking on Thursday. We’re on them every day about something. That’s what it takes to build that culture that you want and continue to have that success.”

Another Texas State captain is out with a significant injury as Kinne revealed that safety Tory Spears is out for the season. Kinne didn’t reveal what the injury is, but he said it happened in practice last week and he expects Spears back next season on a medical redshirt.

Spears joins running backs Lincoln Pare, Josh Berry and safety Darius Jackson as players ruled out for the season. He is the only player in that group that took snaps this season, finishing with 19 tackles and an interception.

“Just one of those freak deals,” Kinne said. “Same individual drill he’s done every day since spring ball. Just one of those unfortunate deals.”

Two fellow captains, left tackle Nash Jones and defensive end Jordan Revels, haven’t returned since suffering injuries against UTSA. Jones is out eight-to-10 weeks while Revels' timetable and injury is unclear, though Kinne estimated one to three weeks for his return.

“That’s tough, but that’s also part of football,” Kinne said. “We’ve got to get ready to go and get guys prepared. In the meeting room, it’s not just the starters paying attention, it’s the backup and their backup, and their backup.”

Tight end Konner Fox, receiver Beau Corrales and defensive tackle Myron Warren all practiced on Tuesday. They are officially game-time decisions but are “trending in the right direction,” Kinne said. Fox has missed the last three games while Corrales has yet to make his season debut. Warren missed one game after an injury against Jackson State. Defensive tackle Kameron Washington also missed the last game and is questionable.

Saturday's game

Texas State (3-1) at Southern Mississippi (1-3), 6 p.m., ESPN+

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas State football has gotten to 3-1 the hard way, the coach says