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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
C-USA West PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Larry Coker, 12-10 (2 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Kevin Brown | DEF. COORDINATOR: Neal Neathery
An offense that averaged 31.2 points per game remains mostly intact after losing only two starters. Senior quarterback Eric Soza is the undisputed leader of the attack. Soza missed two games in 2012 with a hip injury but still passed for 2,085 yards and 20 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He also rushed for six scores and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
UTSA has a two-headed tailback in junior David Glasco II and senior Evans Okotcha. Glasco rushed for a team-best 537 yards and five TDs. Okotcha ran for 450 yards and eight scores and had 24 catches for 349 yards, both team-highs.
All of the top receiving threats are back. Junior Kam Jones was the team’s second-leading receiver, grabbing 23 receptions for 323 yards. Cole Hubble, a junior tight end, averaged 20.5 yards per catch and had four TD receptions.
The return of four starters on the line — all juniors — is a huge boost after the Roadrunners allowed only seven sacks a season ago. Left guard Scott Inskeep was a second-team All-WAC selection in 2012.
UTSA has plenty of experience on defense with nine starters back. The Roadrunners forced 29 takeaways in their 4-2-5 scheme but allowed 46.3 points per game in their four losses.
End Will Ritter (3.5 sacks) is one of three returning starters on the line, which lost second-team All-WAC performer Franky Anaya. Newcomer Justyn Eddins, an end from the junior college ranks, will be expected to bolster a pass rush that produced 23 sacks in 2012.
Last season’s leading tackler Brandon Reeves is gone, but fellow second-team All-WAC linebacker Steven Kurfehs had 71 stops and 4.5 sacks a year ago. Joining the senior at linebacker is junior Blake Terry, who started only four of 12 games last season but made 64 tackles.
Starting cornerback Erik Brown was dismissed in December for violating team rules, but the secondary is strong. First-team All-WAC safety Triston Wade, a junior, tied for the team lead with four interceptions and four forced fumbles. Junior safety Nic Johnston (four forced fumbles) is a proven playmaker.
After missing seven field goals in 2011, Sean Ianno improved last fall by making 10-of-13 attempts. The junior hit four field goals in a 33–31 win over South Alabama, including the last-second winner from 51 yards. He also made all 21 of his PATs. Junior Kristian Stern is back but averaged only 39.7 yards per punt. The return game is in good hands with junior Kenny Harrison, who averaged 23.3 yards on kickoff returns (long of 84 yards) and 17.3 yards on punt returns (long of 79 yards).
Larry Coker, who won a national championship at Miami, needed only one season to work his magic at UTSA. On the heels of the program’s 4–6 inaugural campaign, the Roadrunners went 8–4 overall and 3–3 in the WAC to finish fourth in the league. All four of their losses were to teams that were bowl-eligible.
Coker now leads UTSA into the new-look Conference USA. The Roadrunners will not be a full FBS member and bowl eligible until 2014, but they are experienced (51 returning letterwinners) and have intriguing non-conference home games against Oklahoma State and Houston. The schedule will be challenging. After facing four non-FBS opponents last year, UTSA will play no lower-level schools and five teams that were bowl-eligible in 2012. The Roadrunners could surprise again, but the offense must continue to thrive and the defense must do a better job limiting big plays.