2013 UTSA Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - UTSA Roadrunners Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: All but a single starter, LT Patrick Hoog, is back for the Roadrunners, who are hoping to parlay all of those familiar faces into better production in 2012. UTSA was fine a year ago, but that was when facing a schedule that included games with the likes of Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State, Northwestern Oklahoma and McNeese State. Maintaining an edge in Conference USA will be considerably tougher in 2013. The catalyst will again be QB Eric Soza, a gutsy playmaker who limits his mistakes. He's surrounded by all kinds of weapons, yet none in particular that'll force opposing defenses to scheme to specifically stop. Three returners ran for at least five scores, led by RB Evans Okotcha, and a whopping 13 Roadrunners caught at least 10 passes in 2012. If this attack can improve upon just one area, it'll be in the red zone, where UTSA had its struggles last fall.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Eric Soza
Passing: Eric Soza
166-282, 2,085 yds, 20 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: David Glasco II
111 carries, 537 yds, 5 TDs
Receiving: Evans Okotcha
24 catches, 349 yds, 3 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior LT Josh Walker
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Cole Hubble
Best pro prospect: Junior G Scott Inskeep
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Inskeep, 2) Soza, 3) Junior RB David Glasco
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, running back depth, tight end, pass protection, protecting the ball
Weakness of the offense: Line depth, an established go-to receiver, red-zone conversions
Every fledgling program needs a foundational player to gradually build around. For the Roadrunners, it's senior Eric Soza. The former transfer from Texas State has been UTSA's only starter behind center, evolving into a playmaker last season. The 6-0, 205-pound multi-dimensional threat went 166-of-282 for 2,085 yards, 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 2012, while adding 364 yards and six scores on the ground. Soza is an efficient passer, limiting his mistakes and bad reads, and is dangerous when he leaves the pocket. The honorable mention All-WAC pick is exactly the kind of leader that the program needs at this stage of its evolution.
Backing up Soza will be 6-3, 225-pound Tucker Carter, the second-year transfer from Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College. He did not play in 2012, and missed the spring game with a sore elbow, but has impressed the staff enough as a thrower to earn occasional snaps this year.
Watch Out For .... the acclimation of three-star QB Austin Robinson. No, he's no threat to Soza or even Carter, for that matter. He is, though, an intriguing 6-4, 220-pound athlete, with a bright future in San Antonio. The nation's 77th-ranked quarterback is also a symbol of how far along this program has come in such a short period of time.
Strength: Leadership. If head coach Larry Coker is the face of UTSA, Soza is its heart. He's a do-it-all type quarterback who'll go to whatever lengths are necessary in order to bring his team a win. The senior is a fiery character, helping bring out the best in the players around him.
Weakness: Big plays on the outside. Rarely is it a good sign when a running back leads a team in receiving. Such was the case with the Roadrunners in 2012. The passing game rarely stretched the field, which the staff is hoping to address this fall.
Outlook: For good reason, Coker likes his situation behind center. He has a proven winner, Soza, at the top of the depth chart, a mature junior college transfer in the on-deck circle and a developmental prospect about to learn from his elders. As long as Soza stays healthy, UTSA has the right quarterbacks to usher it into Conference USA.
Unit Rating: 5.5
Local product David Glasco II is the returning starter of a very deep backfield that brings back every one of last season's top contributors. Splitting time and carries in 2012, he rushed for a team-high 537 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries. He added a touchdown reception, but is clearly most valuable when softening the interior of a defense. At 5-10 and 200 pounds, Glasco runs tough and with an attitude, using a solid stiff arm to ward off tacklers and pick up additional yards after contact.
There'll be no more drop-off when 5-9, 215-pound backup Evans Okotcha comes off the bench. In fact, he's the more versatile of the two Roadrunners backs. The stocky and powerful senior ran for 450 yards and eight touchdowns on 106 carries, showing very quick feet. However, the Portland State transfer also caught a team-high 24 passes for 349 yards and three more scores.
Watch Out For .... the carries to be doled out evenly. Glasco may be listed as the starter in the backfield, but he and Okotcha are essentially No. 1 and No. 1A, respectively. The pair is interchangeable, which means both ought to be fresh throughout the 2013 season.
Strength: Depth. UTSA goes two-deep with quality and experienced backs who can work the interior of a defense on the ground. The program has two starters for one slot, a very good problem to have for a coaching staff.
Weakness: Breakaway backs. Glasco and Okotcha are adept at hitting the hole with authority, but busting through the hole and into the secondary is not their forte. The Roadrunners can use a little more pop and explosive from their backs this fall.
Outlook: The staff has few serious complaints about a backfield featuring depth, experience and power. Glasco and Okotcha will once again be integral cogs in the offense, both on the ground and through the air. Neither back will run for 1,000 yards individually, but the duo could combine for 1,500 yards in 2013.
Unit Rating: 5
After a running back led the team in receiving in 2012, the Roadrunners are determined to do a better job of getting the ball to the wide receivers. Returning honorable mention All-WAC junior Kam Jones figures to be a primary target of QB Eric Soza after catching 23 balls for 323 yards and a score. The 5-11, 190-pound playmaker from the slot also ran the ball 28 times for 174 yards, showing elusiveness on sweeps and direct snaps. Jones only touched the ball 51 times a year ago, a level of production that the program needs to see go north.
The outside receivers will be 5-10, 170-pound junior Brandon Freeman at "X" and 6-0, 200-pound junior Marcellus Mack at "Z". Freeman was one of the program's top receivers of 2011, but missed four games with a broken collarbone last year and finished with only nine grabs for 196 yards. Mack is a veteran of seven career starts, four in 2012, but only caught 19 balls for 174 yards and a touchdown last year. The team hopes to make better use of his size this fall.
The Roadrunners like their situation at tight end. Junior Cole Hubble turned last year's 15 catches into 308 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-2, 245-pound honorable mention All-WAC selection is a seam-buster, yet he's not even the starter, a distinction that belongs to 6-2, 240-pound Jeremiah Moeller. The senior has started 13 games over the last two seasons, holds up as a blocker and caught 10 passes for 145 yards and a score in 2012.
No job at wide receiver will be safe this offseason. Right behind Freeman is the long and lean Kenny Bias, a 6-1, 175-pound burner with a smooth gait. He only caught 13 passes in nine games, but they went for 236 yards and two scores. Behind Mark at "Z" is 6-1, 190-pound senior Cole Hicks who came off the bench to catch 14 passes for 169 yards and a team-high four touchdowns.
Watch Out For .... QB Eric Soza to continue spreading the ball around. The Roadrunners have no specific go-to guy, which is both a blessing and a curse for the passing game. Maybe one of the receivers elevates to 40 or 45 grabs in 2013, but this is the kind of team that'll produce a different leading man on a week-in, week-out basis.
Strength: The tight ends. In Hubble and Moeller have a pair of quality big men, physical targets with whom Soza can connect by design or when a situation breaks down. The team's two primary tight ends averaged 18 yards per reception last year, while combining to make five touchdown catches.
Weakness: Consistency. Now that all of the holdovers are a year older, they have to start performing like it. While it won't always show up in a box score, the wide receivers must begin doing the little things, such as running crisp routes and eliminating dropped throws, in order to support Soza.
Outlook: The good news is that the corps has a slew of players with starting experience and a two-deep rich in returning letterwinners. Now the Roadrunners need those weapons to start performing at a higher level, improving their execution and production. UTSA cannot have a running back lead the team in receiving for a second straight year.
Unit Rating: 4.5
Four starters return up front from a Roadrunners' front wall that allowed only seven sacks in 12 games last season. None of the holdovers is more accomplished than LG Scott Inskeep. The junior has started all but a single game of his UTSA career, last fall versus Rice, and rose to the All-WAC Second Team in 2012. A rugged 6-4, 300-pound run blocker, he was an integral reason why UTSA rushed for 1,911 yards a year ago, while producing 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Partnering with Inskeep at guard on the right side is 6-5, 300-pound Cody Harris. The versatile junior has started all but two games of his career in San Antonio, including six at tackle and six at guard with a torn labrum last year.
The most experienced of the tackles is 6-3, 290-pound junior Josh Walker. Like Harris, he bounced between right guard and right tackle, but is now being tabbed to become the full-time successor to Patrick Hoog at left tackle.
The newcomer to the lineup will be RT Zach Hester. The 6-4, 315-pound sophomore did earn a valuable letter a season ago, even starting the Rice game at left guard. He'll be asked to maintain the high standard of a unit that pass protected extremely well last fall.
The anchor at center will once again be 6-0, 290-pound junior Nate Leonard. Steady, smart and hard-working, he has started all 22 games of his UTSA career since graduating from McKinney (Tex.) High School.
The most battle-tested of the backups is 6-3, 280-pound junior Payton Rion. He started seven games in 2011 before being relegated to the sidelines in 2012, and will serve as a reserve to the team's guards.
Watch Out For .... the veterans to help in Hester's development throughout the year. The sophomore may be young and rather wide-eyed at this stage of his career, but he'll get plenty of help from a collection of teammates that have been starting games for the past two years.
Strength: Pass protection. The Roadrunners yielded just seven sacks in 2012, which was fewer than all but one FBS school. Hoog, the Oklahoma State transfer, will be sorely missed, but UTSA feels as if Walker can get the job done protecting the passer's backside.
Weakness: Depth. For UTSA, there's Rion ... and a long line of players with minimal experience. This will be a recurring theme for a fledgling program that has only been in existence for the past two seasons.
Outlook: Although the competition is about to get tougher in Conference USA, UTSA feels it's ready at the point of attack. Sure, Hoog is a big loss at left tackle, but four starters return, and there's a climate of success developing up front. This group will be fine, provided the regulars remain relatively healthy.
Unit Rating: 5
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