First of all, I’d like to apologize for not previewing this week’s game. I had a busy week and then had to fight a headache all day Saturday. But anyways, enough of the excuses, I decided to make it up to all of my loyal readers with a ridiculously long recap of the Southern Utah game, as well as a recap of some news from the past week.
Make sure to follow @RowdyReport on twitter and check out the Rowdyville forums (you can find me under the username DarrellEW), as I’m pretty active on both platforms and I’ll usually post and discuss the latest news on either of those before it makes it on a post here.
Let’s start off by putting yesterday’s game in perspective. Take a look at these stats:
In the first column, you see Southern Utah’s offensive performance against UTSA. In the second column is SUU’s performance against #13 Sacramento State in week 2. There’s not much difference.
There’s been some criticism of the UTSA secondary after giving up some big plays and allowing the Thunderbirds to convert on a few third-and-longs, but I was actually impressed by the improvement since last game.
Against McMurry, it was easy to tell that our secondary just wasn’t doing their job, but in the Southern Utah game, we simply got outplayed by one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, which is something that shouldn’t be too alarming.
As soon as Sorensen was subbed out of the game in favor of sophomore quarterback JJ Mayer, UTSA forced the Thunderbirds to punt on three consecutive drives, with the first two being three-and-outs, forcing SUU to put Sorensen back in the game.
Through three games, the defense is the least of my worries, especially since the next two games after Homecoming will be against run-first offenses in Sam Houston State and South Alabama. After that we’ll be back to playing against pass-oriented teams, but the young secondary should be much improved by then.
Special teams continued to be an issue for UTSA this weekend, but for different reasons than the McMurry game.
Sean Ianno handled kickoffs, which appeared to be an excellent decision from the coaching staff from the start, as his first kickoff went out of the back of the endzone for a touchback. Most importantly, none of his kicks went out of bounds.
It was slightly disappointing that Josh Ward didn’t get a chance to redeem himself from his poor kickoff performance last week, as it seemed to be the perfect situation for him, playing in a smaller open-air stadium, an environment in which he excelled throughout his high school career.
Speaking of Ward, his punts looked slightly better than last week and the protection definitely bought him extra time, as no defender was anywhere near blocking any of his punts this week.
UTSA’s punt coverage left much to be desired against the Thunderbirds though, as WR/KR Brady Measom returned Ward’s first punt of the game all the way to the UTSA 18, and SUU took just two plays to score.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Brandon Armstrong fumbled the ball away to SUU on the ensuing kickoff, giving them excellent field position once again. Luckily, Nic Johnston forced a fumble on the second play of the drive and saved UTSA from going down 21-7 before the end of the first quarter.
Measom also returned UTSA’s first punt of the second half 40 yards to the UTSA 23, leading up to the team’s first field goal of the game to give SUU a 38-7 lead.
Later in the third quarter, Triston Wade laid a huge hit on Measom on the punt return. The only problem? Measom didn’t have the ball yet. The kick catch interference penalty earned Wade the first ejection in UTSA history.
Even though Measom should have called for a fair catch to avoid the collision, the coverage team needs to know where the ball is and to wait for the returner to make the catch. If Wade had waited a fraction of a second longer, he likely would have forced a fumble and given UTSA a chance at recovering with excellent field position.
The other major issue that plagued the Roadrunners on Saturday was the six fumbles by the offense, mostly during the quarterback-to-tailback exchange. Even though UTSA recovered five of the six, each fumble essentially wasted a down that could have extended a few drives for the Roadrunners.
The passing game also struggled after the first drive, as both Kam Jones and Brandon Armstrong had to sit out some plays with injuries and likely weren’t 100% when they came back in. Jake Wanamaker also missed the game with a foot injury and Earon Holmes is still out with a shoulder injury, so the losses of Jones and Armstrong didn’t leave Soza with many viable options.
On a more positive note, David Morgan continues to impress as the receiving tight end for UTSA, recording his first collegiate touchdown on Saturday. If he can build up some more muscle and work on his blocking technique, then he could very well be UTSA’s first NFL prospect (other than Teddy Williams, of course).
True freshman tailback Tevin Williams also made his case for more playing time in a crowded backfield, as he put up 55 yards and scored his first touchdown, while Chris Johnson and David Glasco II each ran for 18 yards, with Glasco scoring his third touchdown this season.
With three TDs, Glasco is quickly becoming the go-to option in the redzone, especially with our two biggest and most physical receivers (Wanamaker and Holmes) out of the game. He is the only Roadrunner with more than one non-passing touchdown on the season.
Overall, this game exceeded my expectations. It’s tough to gauge the quality of the defense against an elite quarterback like Sorensen, but they put up a decent effort, while most of the mistakes on special teams and offense seem fixable.
If we continue to improve, then I could still see UTSA putting together a .500 or better season this year.
Now for some other news from around the UTSA football world this week:
Voting opened up this past week for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. You can click here to place your vote for Coach Coker and you can vote once every day. On Thursday, Coker passed up UT-Austin head coach Mack Brown, so let’s keep up the momentum and get him into the top 20.
On Friday, the University of the Incarnate Word announced their plans to move up to NCAA Division I by 2014, which would make them the second D-I program in San Antonio. They would likely be accepted into the Southland Conference as a replacement for UTSA, Texas State and UT-Arlington, who are all joining the WAC in 2012.
As the UTSA football team battled it out in Utah on Saturday, the women’s volleyball team put up a fight in Austin against #8 Texas, losing 3-1, winning their first ever set against a ranked team along the way.
Also of note on Saturday was the NC State victory over South Alabama by a final score of 35-13. This marked the first loss in school history for the 2009 startup South Alabama football team, who had two undefeated seasons before finally falling to the Wolfpack this week, ending their 19-game winning streak. UTSA plays South Alabama on October 8 in the Alamodome.