Plenty of growing pains come with rebuilding a college football program.

Colorado knows this better than most. Texas State head coach Everett Withers is well aware, too, as he strives to find a winning formula with the Bobcats.

Withers' second season at Texas State includes a trip to Boulder to take on the Buffaloes on Sept. 9 at Folsom Field. This month, BuffZone.com is previewing each of CU's opponents, with this installment focusing on Texas State.

CU has never seen Texas State on the gridiron, but the Buffs will get a team coming off a 2-10 record and looking to escape the cellar of the Sun Belt Conference.

Last season wasn't only disappointing on the scoreboard for the Bobcats, who had the first 10-loss season in their history; it wasn't exactly a great environment around the program.

"I didn't like those guys last year," Withers said after the spring game in April.

Prior to spring he said his team lacked toughness and leadership in 2016, but sees the Bobcats progressing this year.

"We went to spring ball last year knowing that this was going to be a problem," he told the TSU media in March. "This year, we know we're growing it, but at least we know how we can get it done and where we need to go."

On the plus side, Withers said he actually likes this year's team. He also said this squad isn't more talented than last year.


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"No, we're not. But I like being around them," he said. "They are good people; they care."

Is that enough to improve upon last year's record? Maybe. Whether it's enough to come into Boulder and compete with the Buffs remains to be seen.

The Bobcats are expected to be improved at quarterback. Although Withers said the quarterback competition will carry into the fall, it's expected that senior Damian Williams will be the man. A graduate transfer from Mississippi State, Williams is a solid dual threat who had a good spring game (14-for-22, 172 yards, 4 touchdowns). Three true freshmen are expected to push Williams this fall.

Even if Williams does start, this is a Texas State team with young players that are still trying to learn how to win. The expectation is that the Bobcats will be better, but still experience their share of growing pains.

CU opponent preview: Texas State Bobcats

Date with CU: Sept. 9, Noon, at Folsom Field in Boulder

Head coach: Everett Withers, 2nd year (2-10)

Series: First meeting

Bobcats in 2016: 2-10, 0-8 in Sun Belt Conference

Returning starters: 12 - 7 on offense, 5 on defense

Offensive players to watch: C Aaron Brewer, So.; RB Robert Brown Jr., Fr.; WR Elijah King, Sr. (28 catches, 453 yards, 2 TD); RB Stedman Mayberry, Jr. (157 att., 593 yards, 5 TD; 41 catches, 321 yards); TE Gabe Schrade, Sr. (25 catches, 286 yards, 2 TD); RB Anthony D. Taylor, So.; WR Tyler Watts, Jr. (43 catches, 364 yards, 1 TD; QB Damian Williams, Sr. (31-for-47, 272 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT at Mississippi State)

Defensive players to watch: DE Ishmael Davis, Jr. (42 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack); OLB Frankie Griffin, Jr. (46 tackles, 4.5 TFL); ILB Bryan London, So. (141 tackles, 8.5 TFL); ILB Gabe Loyd, Sr. (102 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL); DE Jordan Mitte, So. (31 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack); CB Anthony J. Taylor, So. (22 tackles).

Notable: This is TSU's sixth season at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. ... The Bobcats have played a Power 5 conference team in each of the previous five years, going 0-5 and losing by an average of 32.6 points. ... Last year, TSU was last in the country in rushing yards per game (82.4) and yards per rush (2.3). It was the only team in the country with less than 1,000 yards rushing as a team (989). ... The Bobcats ranked 124th nationally in scoring (18.6 points per game) and 125th in scoring defense (41.1). ... Brewer was named to the preseason Rimington Trophy (nation's best center) watch list, while Schrade was named to the John Mackey Award (top tight end) watch list. ... The TSU offensive line allowed 44 sacks last year. The defense, meanwhile, generated just nine sacks.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.