UTSA quarterback Eric Soza
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 10th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.Date with Marshall: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. (TV to Texas only)Site: Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,000, FieldTurf), HuntingtonSeries: First meeting
Coach: Larry Coker (ninth season overall, 72-25; third season at UTSA, 12-10)
Checking them outOf the six newcomers to Conference USA this football season, the University of San Antonio may be the most interesting. The third-year program brings one of America's coolest nicknames (beep, beep, the Roadrunners) and play in the Alamodome, where they will host Oklahoma State and Houston in September.Throw in Larry Coker as coach and an average two-season home attendance of 32,373 in a city hosting no other college or pro team and you have a potentially dangerous program. But after a mid-pack showing in the Western Athletic Conference, how will this team fare in its new league?For one thing, the Roadrunners face their first schedule of all FBS teams. That's just a year removed from taking on Texas A&M-Commerce and Northwest Oklahoma State and two years from playing McMurry and Bacone.Athlon Sports, for an example, sees a 1-11 year, declaring that "the offense must continue to thrive and the defense must do a better job limiting big plays." The Roadrunners have only 10 seniors listed, so some growing up is in order.Running the offense is one of many charter members of the program, quarterback Eric Soza. A transfer from Texas State, he threw for 2,085 yards and 20 TDs with just three interceptions. Wide receiver Brandon Freeman is back atop the "X" depth chart, and Kam Jones (23-323, 1 TD) and Marcellus Hack (19-174, 1 TD) are third-year receivers.Also back for their third seasons are tailbacks David Glasco II (537 yards, five TDs) and Evans Okotcha (450 rush yards, 24-329 receiving, 11 TDs combined), as well as 5-foot-11, 250-pound H-back Nate Shaw. The offensive line has logged 83 starts on the two-deep, with the guards and centers in their third year.
Defensively, free safety Triston Wade (74 tackles, four interceptions), strong safety Nic Johnston (73 tackles, five for loss) and outside linebacker Steven Kurfehls are the veterans, along with cornerback Darrien Starling. They yielded only 379.8 yards per game and forced 29 turnovers last year, but again, the schedule ratchets up this time around.Kicker Sean Ianno started the 2012 season with a 51-yard game-winning field goal against South Alabama and was a solid 10 of 13. Kenny Harrison is a dangerous kick returner.All-conference candidates
Offense: QB Eric Soza, LG Scott InskeepDefense: LB Steven Kurfehls, FS Triston WadeSpecial teams: K Sean Ianno, KR/PR Kenny Harrison
NotesThe Roadrunners played two members of the new Conference USA lineup last year, losing 34-14 to Rice and 51-27 to Louisiana Tech. ... Oklahoma State is the first big-name team to come to the Alamodome, and won't be the last. Arizona (2014), Kansas State (2015), Arizona State (2016) and Baylor (2018) are scheduled to play there. ... While this is Marshall's league opener, UTSA will be playing in its second such game. The Roadrunners start their C-USA existence two weeks earlier at Texas-El Paso. ... UTSA is not a full FBS member for another year and therefore not eligible for a bowl.2013 schedule
Aug. 31 at New Mexico DNPSept. 7 Oklahoma State DNPSept. 14 at Arizona DNPSept. 21 at Texas-El Paso* DNPSept. 28 Houston DNPOct. 5 at Marshall* DNPOct. 12 Rice* L 14-34Oct. 26 UAB* DNPNov. 2 at Tulsa* DNPNov. 9 Tulane* DNPNov. 23 at North Texas* DNPNov. 30 Louisiana Tech* L 27-51* Conference USA games2012 record: 8-4 (3-3 WAC, 4th; ineligible for bowl)Dropped: South Alabama (W, 33-31), Texas A&M-Commerce (W, 27-16), Georgia State (W, 38-14), Northwestern Oklahoma State (56-3); New Mexico State (W, 35-14), San Jose State (L, 24-52), Utah State (L, 17-48), McNeese State (W, 31-24), Idaho (W, 34-27), Texas State (W, 38-31)