2014 CFN Preview - UTSA Roadrunners
UTSA RB David Glasco
CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2014 - The Roadrunners are off and running in Conference USA. (Getty Images)
- 2013 |
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The Roadrunners are off and running under the watchful eye of former Miami head coach Larry Coker. Meep meep.
Head coach: Larry Coker
4th year: 19-15
10th year: 79-30
Off. 28 Def. 25, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 10
1. FS Triston Wade, Sr.
2. WR Kam Jones, Sr.
3. OG Scott Inskeep, Sr.
4. OT Cody Harris, Sr.
5. SS Nic Johnston, Sr.
6. RB David Glasco, Sr.
7. DE Codie Brooks, Soph.
8. DE Robert Singletary, Sr.
9. TE Cole Hubble, Sr.
10. CB Bennett Okotcha, Jr.
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 29 at Houston
Sep. 4 Arizona
Sep. 13 at Oklahoma State
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 at Florida Atlantic
Oct. 4 New Mexico
Oct. 11 FIU
Oct. 18 at Louisiana Tech
Oct. 25 UTEP
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at Rice
Nov. 13 Southern Miss
Nov. 22 at WKU
Nov. 29 North Texas
UTSA not only proved that they belong in Conference USA in 2013, but they finished above .500 and on a five-game winning streak to close out the year. Coker has his players and the local San Antonio community believing that this program can blossom into a heavyweight, by the mid-major measuring stick. And he and his staff have done it at warp speed.
What began as a dream only a few years ago, major college football in the Alamo City, has bloomed into reality practically overnight. The Roadrunners have played just 34 games—ever—yet they're already playing in their second conference. Two years after sipping a cup of coffee as a provisional member of the now-defunct WAC, UTSA has made a soft landing in Conference USA, where it shockingly went 7-5 to finish a game out of first place in the West Division.
Now that the toughest stage of the build-from-scratch football program is completed, Coker & Co. will begin addressing the finer details of the overall blueprint. At a rudimentary level, the Roadrunners still must improve at the basics, from creating depth to getting bigger, stronger and faster. Although the recent on-field success might indicate otherwise, it's important to remember how new UTSA is as a football program.
The Roadrunners return a staggering 55 letterwinners and more starters than any other FBS team. The foundation is set as 2014 approaches. But one of the departures is a critical one, Eric Soza. Soza wasn't just UTSA's starting quarterback. He's the only quarterback to start a game in the school's brief history. The D desperately needs to take the next step against the pass. Sure, everyone is back, including all-star FS Triston Wade. It won't matter, though, unless the unit can turn the corner after ranking No. 12 in Conference USA, while intercepting a mere eight passes.
If a few nagging holes can be plugged between now and the opener at Houston, UTSA has a chance to compete for a title just three years after leaving college football's womb to play in its first-ever game. One meticulous rung at a time, Coker and his Roadrunners are on the verge of going from birth to bowl berth in record time.
What to watch for on offense: David Glasco to become UTSA's first-ever 1,000-yard rusher. QB Eric Soza and RB Evans Okotcha are gone, and the entire O-line is back. What does that equal? More reps and more holes for Glasco. The team's leading rusher the past two seasons has carried the ball more than 20 times in a game just one time during his career. And he responded by going for 135 yards last Nov. 2 against Tulsa. Glasco better be in the best shape of his life this year, because his touches and production are liable to double.
What to watch for on defense: The D-line will emerge as a team strength. In stark contrast to last year, the Roadrunners are flush with proven experience up front. Three different linemen earned honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2013, including the up-and-coming bookend of Codie Brooks and Robert Singletary. After scratching the surface of their potential, the former walk-on and the former Baylor Bear, respectively, could combine for 15 or more sacks this fall. UTSA, especially the defensive backfield, needs to surpass the 21 sacks it had a season ago.
The team will be far better if … the secondary performs like a unit returning all five starters. There are a lot of familiar faces back in the defensive backfield. It's the familiar results that the Roadrunners are hoping to avoid. Over the past two seasons, UTSA has given up 44 touchdown passes and intercepted only 18 balls. It's been that inability to slow down quality quarterbacks that's prevented the Roadrunners from hanging with the tougher opponents on the schedule.
The Schedule: The Roadrunners start out with three road games in the first four, and the home date is against ARizona, but the rest of the slate eases up a bit with winnable games against New Mexico and FIU are part of a nice run of four home games in six. There's no Marshall on the slate, and the Rice game is on the road, but closing out at WKU and facing North Texas won't be easy.
Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Kam Jones. Jones is the Roadrunners' all-purpose athlete, the kind of player who'll be in myriad different ways by the staff. While listed as a wide receiver, he'll also take different handoffs, run the ball on sweeps and serve as the primary kick returner. Now that QB Eric Soza has departed, Jones is the new leader of the offense. He'll be counted on take some pressure off Soza's successor, who has never started a game at the collegiate level.
Best Defensive Player: Senior FS Triston Wade. At 5-11 and 165 pounds, Wade is still small. And, yet, he's still the biggest component of an improving Roadrunner defense. He's a fluid all-around athlete whose team-high 94 tackles in 2013 indicate a willingness to throw his modest weight around. UTSA is subpar, though on the uptick, against the pass. If not for Wade, who's been named all-conference in two different leagues, the situation in San Antonio would be far worse.
Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Tucker Carter. Determining UTSA's ceiling this season could be as simple as following the trajectory of Carter. The Roadrunners have never had a starting quarterback other than Eric Soza, so this year will be uncharted territory for the program. At 6-3 and 225 pounds, Carter looks the part, even more so than his predecessor. But he hasn't played significant minutes since transferring from Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College, which is the biggest concern of the coaching staff.
The season will be a success if ... UTSA makes its first postseason appearance. It's the next logical step for a program that's been steadily moving forward since first deciding to play football. The Roadrunners were good enough to bowl in 2013, but were technically ineligible in their second year of reclassification to the FBS. Now that the provisions have been lifted, and the roster is teeming with upperclassmen, UTSA is poised to still be playing in December.
Key game: Nov. 8 at Rice. The Roadrunners lost by six points to the Owls last Oct. 12, which was the difference in the West Division race. When the teams meet in Houston this fall, a spot in the Conference USA title game may once again be at stake. While Rice is the defending champ, it's also breaking in a bunch of new starters this season. UTSA, on the other hand, is a seasoned team that will not be rattled by this pivotal trip into hostile territory.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: UTSA 175.4 – Opponents 143.1
- Touchdowns passes: UTSA 13 – Opponents 20
- Time of possession: UTEP 32:24 - Opponents 27:36
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