Post-game Quick Notes
|One of the many incredible pictures from mysa.com this weekend. Indulge.|
Wow, what a whirlwind of a weekend it has been. (Alliteration!) Just going to touch on a few things on the top of my mind before I pass out, possibly for days.
All Eric Soza Everything – The young man stepped up to the challenge today. If Soza produces at 70% of what we saw today for the duration of the season then UTSA will do just fine against its higher-tier opponents. Brilliant decision making, particularly on options and zone reads, gave the Runners four first downs with his feet. The ability to extend drives on busted plays is a gargantuan bonus in your play caller, something that separates good quarterbacks from MVPs. Soza showed this ability throughout Saturday’s affair.
Defensive Line – Round of applause. As I had mentioned in the podcast last week, there is seriously zero drop-off in talent from the first to the second string. Guys were moving around, sealing gaps, breaking blocks, and making plays. 36 total rushing yards for the Riverhawks. As predicted, Jason Neill played a lot, even at defensive tackle at times. The dude is huge. Once he adjusts to the college game he’s going to be a sack machine. Huge showing from Franky Anaya. Anaya looks to be a major asset for Coach Neathery after a clutch tackle for a loss on fourth down and amassing four strong tackles in semi-limited playing time. OkSt transfer Ashaad Mabry may not have lit up the stat sheet with just two tackles, but the NSU offensive line had to change their game plan in order to compensate for his size and power. Mabry drew several extra blockers and NSU generally ran away from him. Dear Richard Burge, I’m sorry for doubting you. You are a great defensive tackle.
First Quarter – Could things have gone any smoother? Kam Jones comes within a few inches of running back the opening kickoff, Eric Soza grabs the NSU defense by the cajones, and an infantile offensive line held up quite well. Which bring us to…
Offensive Line – All in all, fine job by the OL. With a few more games under their belt this group could be salty. I did not notice any blown assignments (Please correct me if I’m wrong, my student section seat wasn’t the best to be watching the offensive line from) and Soza typically had plenty of time to make a play. I was mainly keeping my eye on true freshman Payton Rion whom did appear overwhelmed on a few plays. Run blocking needs to improve, there was very limited space for an interior run game.
Running Backs – Solid contributions from CheRod Simpson, David Glasco, Chris Johnson, and Tevin Williams. One major gripe is with Chris Johnson. I’m sure you all saw his boneheaded play where he ran roughly 25 yards backwards trying to create his own dynamite. This isn’t East Central High anymore; running like that in college isn’t going to get you far unless you’re Noel Devine.
REDSHIRT ALERT: Freshman 300 pounder Josh Walker did not play in the game. Neither did De’Metrius Jacobs or Malcom Scott. I would imagine the decision to redshirt Malcom Scott came after the transfer of Erik Brown. Good news for the future.
|Darrien Starling breaks up a pass. Again, thanks to Mysa.com on the pics.|
Defensive Back Seven – Extremely impressed. Starting with the secondary: Mark Waters was stellar. Maybe two balls total were thrown behind him. Mauricio Sanchez (Six tackles, 1 forced fumble) impressed me immensely. Excellent in coverage and seemed to be following the quarterbacks’ eyes as he should. Keep it up and the interceptions will come. Johnston was every bit as strong as promised. Started the defensive season off with a helluva smash on a tackle for loss. The cornerback position was one area that I was “meh” on. Darrien Starling had a strong game with seven tackles and lock-down coverage. Last week he stated that we would shut down leading NSU receiver, Trey McVay. Starling did just that. I wasn’t so high on Crosby Adams and Jeremy Hall. Neither had bad games per say, but they do need some fine-tuning on small things, namely learning how to avoid pass interference calls, especially in the red zone. That will come. Hopefully the addition of “veteran” Erik Brown on Sunday will prove to be a boost. Linebackers: Kurfehs, Reeves, and Terry were all on their game for a combined 17 tackles and two sacks. Kurfehs is a big time linebacker. His combination of size, speed, and intelligence could land him playing time for any collegiate football program in the nation.
Receivers – Mixed bag here. Impromptu starter Brandon Freeman was a fairly reliable option for Soza, reeling in five catches for 43 yards. There were some drops, but I feel that Freeman is going to get the same treatment that an athletic third basemen gets in baseball. The average fan complains about the error the fielder makes when they should be grateful that the defender was even capable to be able to reach a position to field the ball. Some of Soza’s throws to Freeman were off target but Brandon still made them look catchable. We’ve still yet to see the game-changing ability that Coker claims Freeman is capable of… but hey, this is just one game. Kam Jones had some terrific catches, including a 38 yard needle-thread from Soza and a stellar catch in the end zone for a touch down. Past that, catches were spread among several receivers– a very good sign of depth in perhaps the only position where the Runners have it. Reception of the night? David Morgan’s catch and run on a wide open play action-pivot tight end screen. No idea how NSU lost track of a dude his size, but Morgan chugged his way down to the goal line, narrowly missing pay dirt Expect some big plays like this from the Marble Falls product.
Special Teams – Kickoffs and Returns were strong. The foolish mental mistakes that I was anticipating thankfully did not happen. Sean Ianno nailed a 21 yard kick and missed a 38 yarder under blitz pressure from the defense. Much to the delight of the Roadrunner fans, Ianno nailed some lengthy kicks in warm ups. Punts were a bit on the short side (average of 34.2 yards per punt) but Josh Ward puts some nice lift on the ball, preventing the opposition from making some noise on returns. UTSA will be pleased if they can get more punts down in the opponent’s red zone like they saw from Ward in the second quarter.
This UTSA team has the capacity of being very good, especially when you factor in a few years of experience down the road. Travis Bush’s offense is something to behold. Did he use this much misdirection, play action, and trickery at Texas State? Help me out here, Bobcats. Defensively, the Runners played with energy and passion. Let’s not forget that Patrick Hoog, Cole Hubble, Lekenwic Haynes, Earon Holmes, and Drew Douglas were all absent with injuries (to name a few).
Valiant effort from the Roadrunners in game one. Thank you to everyone who laughed at my homer-ific prediction of 30-10 in favor of UTSA. I’m going to scroll through score prediction from our Twitter followers tomorrow, but I think I was the closest out of anyone. It was great to meet some of our readers/followers/listeners at the game. Looking forward to meeting more of your pretty faces next week. But for now it’s off for a much-needed period of hibernation for me. Many more posts/podcast coming your way soon.
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter