UTSA 2013 Spring Game Review
As expected, the Roadrunner defense bested the offense this afternoon in a very competitive and very warm spring game. The first string defense really wore out the first string offense as Soza struggled with his accuracy and a depleted offensive line didn’t do much to hold off a ferocious UTSA defensive line. Of course that’s not to say that the offense didn’t have their moments as both the first and second strings utilized big plays to get into the end zone. The first of such came early in the affair as Conque found a streaking Bias behind Bennett Okotcha for an impressive 60 yard touchdown heave. Throughout the game Conque really showed the average UTSA fan why recruitniks are so high on Conque as the future of the program. His 6’6″ frame and strong arm allow him to make throws that your average quarterback simply can’t pull off. Conque had (mostly) smart reads throughout the day despite a couple slip ups, one of which lead to an interception. The touchdown strike to Bias is a great example. Had Soza been on the field, he would have had to loft the ball much higher than Conque did, consequently allowing the cornerback time to catch up to Bias as he waited on the ball to drop. Another great example of Conque’s arm strength came on an absolute bullet he threw to Rileigh Davis. While Davis dropped a sure touchdown pass about 30 yards down the field, Conque drilled the ball into his chest right as Davis cleared his defender. I’m not convinced that’s a throw Soza can make without putting a considerable amount of air under the ball. I don’t think Conque is ready to step into Division I competition and play mistake-free ball, but today serves as a reminder of how high this young man’s ceiling is.
I came away today most impressed with Brandon Armstrong on offense, particularly when coming out of the backfield. Armstrong was open nearly every time he ran a route and did a terrific job of finding open space on the field. His speed is incredibly impressive and when his vision and lateral movement are as strong as they were today then Armstrong becomes a lethal weapon. I also have to give Armstrong credit for holding on to a first down pass after being crushed by a defender. For such a small guy he is very physical. Other offensive highlights include a short catch from Monroe that he turned into a 51 yard TD and a couple of nice runs from Conque, both by design and to avoid pressure. Kam Jones also made his presence felt by taking the rock to the house on a reverse. Kam picked up a block from Soza then toed the line as he ripped past the defense. I think I speak for all fans when I say that I enjoy Kam taking snaps out of the wildcat formation, which he did thrice today.
It’s really hard to pick out top performers on the defensive side of the ball as the unit itself played so well. Triston Wade continued to impress as he patrolled the field sideline to sideline terrorizing receivers and ball carriers alike. The guy was completely unrecruited two years ago and now he looks bound for four consecutive years of All Conference accolades and possibly a lucrative career playing ball on Sundays. What’s even more incredible is how good his back up is. For a school that had to change the location of its spring game because Disney on Ice had precedence in its own stadium, it’s a bit silly that UTSA has managed to find two free safeties so talented. I had remarked earlier that Brian King could start at many schools and today sold me on that notion. King was all over the field. He had three tackles, several hard hits, and a beautiful interception that he returned for 51 yards. The senior showed excellent ball skills and anticipation. While King has always had a physical edge over Wade, the mental gap between the two has started to shrink. Sure hope the coaches can manage to share snaps efficiently between the two.
The defensive line kicked ass today. Jason Neill started the day at defensive end in place of the injured Cody Rogers but once Neill moved back to the tackle spot he absolutely tore it up. I love the idea of swapping in Neill for passing downs and Burge or Macon for short-yard situations. Singletary also had a great afternoon. He has slowly gotten the hang of the defensive end spot as he found his way into the backfield repeatedly. Singletary also reminded us that he’s still a linebacker as he chased down Okotcha on a swing route for a minimal gain. Mabry also blew up several plays and newcomer Brian Price has really changed my perception of him. When he signed I saw him as little more than a big body to swallow blocks but the 315 pounder is actually fairly light on his feet and is a technician with his hands at the line of scrimmage. Jaron Harris could be an x-factor next season. He was pretty succesful on the pass rush today and showed to be a good fundamentals guy last year. If he can get his body right by putting on some weight he’ll be a huge key to the pass rush game.
Again, kudos to Jeff Popovich on turning the cornerback position around. Besides Okotcha getting burned on Bias’s deep touchdown, there were very few plays with completely busted coverage. The corners also tackled quite well and brought in an interception after Andre Brown jumped a hitch route and scooped a low throw right before it hit the turf. Starling held his own and Crosby Adams wrapped up a fantastic spring with another good outing. I believe it was Coach Eliano that commented that the position last year had very little toughness. Even Erik Brown who played pretty damn well wasn’t quite what you’d qualify as a tough player. This changed this spring– Adams and Starling are playing with confidence, the unit is jawing with receivers after plays and coming up to the ball to make hard hits.
Overall, we saw a lot to appreciate this afternoon. While the offense was limited schematically and in terms of bodies, they did move the ball throughout most of the evening and converted on some big plays. The defense got off the field on third down and created turnovers. What more can you ask for? For now this blog will slow down for the summer as I do some recruiting research in the central/south texas area but hopefully the Adams will be contributing in the mean time. Stay tuned Runner fans.
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