Reality Bites

Welcome to heart break, Roadrunner fans. After showing few signs of mortality against a strong Northeastern team, UTSA fell flat on their face today in the Alamodome against Division III McMurry University. Repeatedly stumbling under their own feet, the Roadrunners took away every chance of victory they had on their own accord. Plagued by special team woes, untimely penalties, poor blocking, and a simply pathetic showing from the secondary, UTSA looked every bit like a first year program comprised primarily of freshmen.

Special Teams
This is what really stood out to me. Josh Ward (scholarship kicker) was absolutely miserable. Ward had three kick offs before being yanked in favor of Sean Ianno at the end of the fourth. Two of Ward’s kicks flew wildly out of bounds, putting the War Hawks in excellent field position. Field position is absolutely crucial when you’re facing a high-octane offense like McMurry’s air raid O. At this point in time, I’m extremely disappointed in Coker & Tony Jeffery for offering Josh Ward a scholarship. If you’re going to give a scholarship to a special teams player you need to be certain that he’s a game-changer. After watching Ward’s poor mechanics I’m forced to wonder if the UTSA coaching staff even saw him play before the day he showed up to practice. Ward’s wind up on kicks is entirely too lengthy, opening him up to blocks like the one we saw McMurry return for a touchdown today. At this level of competition you must adjust your mechanics to the speed of the game. Aside from Ward, the blocking on special teams was also atrocious. In UTSA’s first two games there have been a myriad of opponents in the backfield as the Roadrunners attempt to kick/punt. These issues absolutely must be addressed before UTSA can expect to compete and (hopefully) upset some of the tougher teams on their slate. On the flip side, major props to UTSA’s return game who have provided Soza and his crew with great field position to start nearly every drive this year. I love the trio of Monroe, Harrison, and Jones on kick offs.

Play calling
Was a bit confused here. Bush seemed to abandon everything that worked well in Week One. Granted, most of the bad looks we saw in Game Two were the fault of poor execution, but there were some real head-scratchers– namely, why didn’t Kam Jones (93 all-purpose yards) touch the ball until the second half? Jones is our biggest play maker and should be our go-to guy. What happened to the play-action game? I only counted a handful of play-action passes. I know McMurry was blitzing a lot of guys in their 3-man front, but damn. McMurry safety Will Morris was biting hard on every play, some play action could have led to deep completions.

Offensive Line
Okay, I believe that they are all freshmen now. Guard Payton Rion played miserably. He is not ready to start yet; I expect Mike Sanchez or James Bakke to usurp his starting spot next week. Soza was under pressure too often (6 hurries, 1 sack). Often Soza only needed an extra split-second in the pocket to allow the passing routes to develop. This must improve. While the line’s pass blocking was bad, the blocking from the running backs in the pocket was equally disheartening.

Secondary

Wow, disgusting. Jeremy Hall got toasted early and was lifted in favor of Alondre Thorn who showed signs of promise, including a key pass break-up in the end zone. Starling got burnt on a few plays but played decent enough to keep the Runners in the game. His take-away interception in the third quarter was one of the coolest plays in UTSA football’s short history. Yet again, Malcom Scott did not play. I think we can go ahead and label him as a redshirt. Getting Erik Brown into the program looks to be a huge coup after the UTSA corner backs took a lickin’ in Week Two. McMurry was able to sneak quite a few deep balls past Mark Waters. As a 4-2-5 free safety, it is imperative that Waters stays behind all receivers. DISCLAIMER: Waters might have been dropping down into normal coverage when McMurry was rolling with five receivers. Can’t recall.
Linebackers
Steven Kurfehs played quite well, but that’s easy to say when he’s doing little more than guarding the flat. Kurfehs did a great job of coming in to mop up on tackles, got to love the guy’s energy on the field. Brandon Reeves killed UTSA on several plays today. Kudos to Hal Mumme on recognizing his lack of speed and using it to draw mismatches that provided the War Hawks with several first downs. Personally, I would have put a corner back or safety in for Reeves since the front four were smothering the run anyways. Brandon Reeves simply does not have much coverage skill. Best believe that other teams have taken notes.
Defensive Line
Impressed again. Jason Neill worked his way into the starting four and played well. All discussion must fall to Marlon Smith though, who garnered 4 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 9 tackles (5 solo), and a blocked field goal. What a monster– I can’t wait to watch Smith develop further as a defensive lineman. His 6’6 frame is a giant (ha, get it?) asset. Plenty of room to pack on the muscle. I believe Smith is up to five pass break ups on the season. He might break some kind of record for that.
Running Backs
Very strong showing from the running backs today. David Glasco (50 yds., 1 TD) and Evans Okotcha (47 yds., 4 key first downs) both played brilliantly. Chris Johnson also bounced back in a minor way following his sloppy performance in Game One. We have to remember that Johnson is three years removed from the game. I’ve noticed that Chris hasn’t done the best job of utilizing his blockers, instead trying to gain as many yards as he can by juking, jiving, spinning, whatever. I think in a few more weeks we will see his potential begin to blossom. CheRod Simpson made his presence felt with 42 receiving yards and a TD catch. CheRod, keep rocking the Polamalu bro.
Soza
So maybe Eric Soza isn’t quite a Heisman candidate. Forcing a lot of throws and keeping some balls he should have gotten rid of, Soza seemed to be trying to do too much. One particularly alarming throw was made into double coverage, deep down the field. Soza needs to learn that offense isn’t always going to come easy– trust the process and have the foresight to throw away dangerous passes. Under/over throwing screen passes to wide-open receivers is unacceptable. This has to improve (Noticing a trend?). Lastly, the overthrown pass to Wanamaker in the end zone was a killer. UTSA wins this game if Soza can lower that throw three inches. It would have been nice to blow out McMurry as was anticipated so we could get a taste of what Ryan Polite can bring to the table. C’est le vie.
Receivers
Not a bad showing from the receiving corp. Armstrong and Freeman led the way with 41 and 35 yards, respectively. Freeman also pulled in a touch down in the third quarter. I still find it hard to fathom that Kam Jones only caught one pass. Only two balls were thrown his way. Travis Bush needs to get the ball into Jones’ hands in open space. Reverses help, but that’s not going to cut it. David Morgan continues to impress with three catches for 32 yards, including a rolling, shoe-string completion. Love this kid as a receiver– as he grows and develops he’s going to be a beast of a tight end.
Fans
We need to be better. Fans were screaming while UTSA had the ball on offense, preventing Soza from effectively calling audibles, likely leading to unnecessary time outs. The volume level on the field was so loud that Leonard and Soza were forced to use a silent count… at home! The home-town crowd did the Wave for ten minutes straight…. while UTSA had the ball. Things like this need to be cut out. The energy and enthusiasm is awesome, but we’re preventing our offense from operating at maximum efficiency. Save it for when the good guys are on defense. Be watching for more from Coker Chronicles on some sorts of a fan-education program. As our young team learns how to do this football thing, we must also learn as fans. In fact, the UTSA administration must learn as well. As our Twitter follower @Del_Negro pointed out, the Alamodome ribbon board said “Let’s Get Loud!” when the Roadrunners were on offense.
– Halftime
Loved the mariachis. Puro San Antonio. I would have been totally down with UTSA having a mariachi marching band, but alas. Very cool gesture by UTSA to honor the military the day before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a lump in my throat as I watched the American flag cover the Alamodome turf.
Closing Thoughts
This is how it feels to lose. It sucks. This was a horrible loss, but it’s the type of loss that makes a team improve. The film from this game is going to show the coaches and players a myriad of mistakes that can be improved upon. Depth chart changes will be processed. The coaches will push the players to get better with a tough week of practice. A salty Southern Utah team awaits the Roadrunners next week. Remember how Sacramento State beat Oregon State last week and earned a #12 ranking in FCS? Yeah, well Southern Utah took them behind the shed today and delivered a thrashing. UTSA is Southern Utah’s homecoming game. It’s going to take focus, preparation, and luck to win the program’s first ever road game. We’re about to see what this UTSA team is made of. As always, be sure to add your game pictures to our Flickr group. We’ve got a great podcast with a very special guest lined up for you guys next week, so be sure to be tuning in.
McMurry vs. UTSA Box Score
Post-game notes
UTSA post-game Quotes
Discuss the game with fans

About jared

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