***** NCAA Football Preview - Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners *****
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Texas-San Antonio has one of the youngest programs in
the nation as 2012 was just its second year in existence. Coach Larry Coker
didn't take long to deliver a winning season to the Roadrunners' fans, as he
guided the team to an 8-4 overall record last year, including a 3-3 mark in
the Western Athletic Conference.
The Roadrunners won their first five games of the 2012 season, but South
Alabama and New Mexico State were their only FBS opponents during that stretch
and the Jaguars were in their inaugural season since reclassifying from the
FCS. UTSA then lost four in a row convincingly as it fell at Rice (34-14) and
to the WAC's top three finishers, San Jose State (52-24), Utah State (48-17)
and Louisiana Tech (51-27). Coker's team salvaged its season by defeating
McNeese State, Idaho and Texas State en route to a winning record.
Coker was hired to start the program from scratch after two seasons away from
coaching. He was the head coach of Miami-Florida from 2001-06. During his
tenure with the Hurricanes, Coker tied Walter Camp for the best record by a
college football coach through his first 32 games (31-1) and led the 2001 team
to a perfect 12-0 record and the national championship.
OFFENSE: UTSA outplayed its opposition on both sides of the ball in its first
season as an FBS program as it averaged 390.2 total yards of offense and 31.2
points per game. The ground attack was especially productive, racking up 159.2
yards per outing. David Glaso and Evans Okotcha finished first and second on
the team with 537 and 450 yards, respectively. Senior quarterback Eric Soza
also contributed in the rushing attack with 364 yards in 10 games. Glaso,
Okotcha and Soza were responsible for all but two of the team's 21 rushing
Soza was an adequate passer as well, completing 166-of-282 pass attempts for
2,085 yards with 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions. He threw two-
thirds of his picks in the regular season ending win over Texas State and
produced 14 total touchdowns over the final four games.
"After every game we try to figure out something that we can improve on," said
Soza at the C-USA Media Day. "Going into spring ball we had some things on
offense we wanted to correct and try to utilize to our advantages. Through the
summer we've been working hard just trying to get better."
The Roadrunners have plenty of options in the passing game. Okotcha was the
team's leading receiver in 2012 with 349 yards on 24 receptions. UTSA never
really established a consistent rotation which led to 18 different players
recording at least one catch with 12 of them making a catch for a touchdown.
Junior wideout Kam Jones has been a contributor since arriving in San Antonio
as he comes into 2013 with 901 yards on 62 career receptions.
UTSA's offensive line brings back four players with significant experience
with Nate Leonard, Scott Inskeep and Cody Harris all gearing up for their
third year as starters. Junior tackle Josh Walker (6-3, 290) is the fourth
veteran on the blocking unit as he has started 12 of the last 15 games on the
DEFENSE: The Roadrunners were understandably a much better team against their
inferior competition in 2012. They held their first four opponents to an
average of 247.8 yards per contest, but allowed 445.8 yards per game over the
course of their final eight games.
"I think that we have some depth on defense which is really a plus for us,"
said Coker. "We have some awfully good position guys at linebacker and in our
secondary. We have a good solid defense coming back."
The defensive backfield will be one of UTSA's strong points, as Nic Johnston,
Cody Berry and Triston Wade will all be return to their starting roles. Wade
and Johnston are the top two leading tackles among returners, respectively.
Junior cornerbacks Darrien Starling and Crosby Adams are going to have to step
up their play to help the Roadrunners fix their coverage issues. They gave up
over 320 yards passing in each of their final five games with 14 touchdowns
allowed through the air during that span.
Senior linebacker Steven Jurfehs showed he can be a playmaker last season by
amassing 71 total tackles, 5.5 for loss, a team-high 4.5 sacks and a fumble
return for a touchdown. The front four features a pair of quick ends in Will
Ritter (6-1, 235) and Cody Rogers (6-0, 245). Junior nose tackle Richard Burge
is a run stopping specialist on the interior.
SPECIAL TEAMS: There is no question junior Sean Ianno is UTSA's best option at
place kicker. Ianno has connected on 21-of-31 field goal tries including a 51-
yarder during his two seasons as a Roadrunner. Junior punter Josh Ward is
expected to be the starter again despite averaging less than 34 yards per punt
Kenny Harrison played a small role in the passing attack in 2012 as a
sophomore with 124 yards and two touchdowns on 19 grabs. He also racked up
team-leading totals in kick return yards (326) and punt return yards (208, one
OUTLOOK: The Roadrunners have a much more difficult journey this season after
scheduling some formidable opponents for their non-conference slate. The new
league schedule will present some challenges as well due to the C-USA being a
much deeper conference than the 2012 WAC.
UTSA will start its season out on the road at New Mexico and will be a huge
underdog the following week when it hosts Oklahoma State at the Alamodome for
its home opener. The Roadrunners then play a pair of away games at Arizona and
in their first-ever C-USA tilt, at Texas-El Paso. Five of their last eight
games are at home, including their regular season finale versus Louisiana
Tech. Unfortunately, UTSA will still have to play both Tulsa and Marshall, two
of the C-USA's top teams, in unfriendly surroundings.
Another eight win campaign is going to be next to impossible for Coker and
company thanks to the conference realignment. The Roadrunners are a team with
loads of potential as their coaching staff appears to be building the program
from the ground up extraordinarily fast, but they will require some time to
adjust before any conference championship trophies end up in display case.
"I think the next step for us is we need to be bowl eligible and we need to go
to a bowl," said Coker. "I want that for this team, I want that for these
players. They bought into a vision when they came to UTSA when we had nothing.
I want to see those players go to a bowl game and take that step and I think
we can do that."
08/19 09:32:41 ET