The 2014 college football season starts on Aug. 27 and continues into mid-January with the first edition of the four-team playoff. Athlon Sports is counting down until kickoff with projections and previews for all 128 FBS teams. Here is our team preview for No. 89 UTSA.
Previewing UTSA’s Offense for 2014:
UTSA has a boatload of experience coming back on the offensive line and a running back capable of a 1,000-yard season, so it makes sense to assume that the Roadrunners will likely run more than they throw for the second straight season.
One of the two positions that does not return a starter is quarterback, another reason why the Roadrunners will emphasize the run. Senior Tucker Carter takes over for the departed Eric Soza, who was a talented red zone runner (seven TDs) and adequate passer (12 TDs, 11 INTs). Carter has a bigger arm and is less mobile, but the scheme should remain the same.
The featured back should be David Glasco II, who led the team with 496 yards (on 5.2 yards per carry) and five TDs as a junior while missing two games due to injury and splitting the ball-carrying duties. Should the Roadrunners go with a rotation at tailback, look for sophomore Jarveon Williams to get the call (4.5 ypc in limited duty in ’13).
Keep an eye on Kam Jones, the team’s most athletic wideout. Jones will see his share of action as a Wildcat quarterback, especially with Carter being more of a pass-first QB. Jones leads the list of UTSA’s top 10 pass-catchers who return in 2013.
The line welcomes back all five starters, three of whom have been starting for three straight years. Guard Scott Inskeep is the player in this group who will grab the attention of NFL scouts.
Previewing UTSA’s Defense for 2014:
Nine starters return to a defense that held its opponents to an average of 11.3 points over the final four games. Four seniors man the defensive line, including a pair of former Big 12 signees. Defensive tackle Ashaad Mabry (6'3", 315), who originally signed with Oklahoma State, will compete for all-conference honors. Baylor transfer Robert Singletary led the team in sacks (5.0, tied with Codie Brooks) and hurries and seems primed for a big year.
At linebacker, Drew Douglas returns, but second-leading tackler Steven Kurfehs needs to be replaced in UTSA’s 4-2-5 alignment. Jens Jeters should get first crack at Kurfehs’ spot, although he will be pushed by Blake Terry, who originally committed to Kentucky. The Roadrunners may utilize all three players in a rotation format for the two spots.
There won’t be a rotation at safety, where Triston Wade and Nic Johnston will start for their third seasons. Both players are disruptive forces, with Wade leading the team in tackles and interceptions. Oklahoma transfer Bennett Okotcha is the team’s best shutdown corner.
Previewing UTSA’s Specialists for 2014:
Punter Kristian Stern and kicker Sean Ianno both return. UTSA was 90th in net punting last year, while Ianno was 9-of-11 inside 40 and 2-of-8 beyond 40 despite playing seven games indoors. Jones is a dangerous kick returner, but he never shook loose for a long one in 2013.
UTSA’s rise in its first three seasons as a football program has been remarkable. The Roadrunners have gone from not having a team to being a legitimate threat to reach the Conference USA Championship Game in just four years. This is a senior-laden squad with experience at every position except quarterback, and this group has been building toward the 2014 season, since it’s the first year that the program is eligible to participate in a bowl game.
Coach Larry Coker has built his team primarily from the Texas high schools, especially the San Antonio area, which is home to almost 30 players on the current roster. The transitional phase to the FBS has been smoother than expected, and now comes a new hurdle for this very new program — expectations.