An Inside Look at UTSA

Marshall is set to host UTSA this weekend at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in the Herd's Homecoming Game. Recently I caught up with publisher JJ Perez for a few questions.

1. Can you give Herd Fans a quick run down of how the %%MATCH_5%% program began, where it is now in comparison to where you thought it would be, etc?

This is just the third season of UTSA football. In 2010, UTSA field an entire team that redshirted. Before UTSA had even played a down of football, they were extended an invite to the Western Athletic Conference. The 2011 team played and independent schedule. The 2013 team played a WAC schedule, and this is UTSA's first season in CUSA play. It's been a fast rise, to say the least.

It's something that starts at the administrative level. Athletic Director Lynn Hickey and President Dr. Ricardo Romo have put in a tremendous amount of work into building this football program. You have to look back at just a few years ago and UTSA literally had nothing, when it came to football. No equipment, no facilities, minimal staff, etc. Fast forward to today where UTSA has a place to call home in the Alamodome, on-campus practice fields, multiple uniform combinations, and a full staff. It's been a tremendous growth process.

Another thing that many will acknowledge is the timing of everything. Conference realignment has greatly benefited UTSA. Coming from the Southland Conference before the football program, there was no guarantee that UTSA would have a conference to play in. The Western Athletic Conference came calling before UTSA had anything established. UTSA is forever grateful to the WAC. Without them, who knows where UTSA would be.

As far as on the field success, UTSA coaches do a great job of getting the most out of their players. Many of the players on this year's team are Juniors and Seniors who have been a part of the program since its inception. Many of these players were overlooked and under-recruited by other schools. This group of players came to UTSA because of a vision, because they wanted to help build something. It really is a unique group of players.

2. A quick run down of your offense, and how you guys expect to attack %%MATCH_3%% this week.

Offensive Coordinator %%MATCH_0%% runs a multiple scheme offensive set. In 2011, current %%MATCH_4%% co-offensive coordinator Travis Bush was UTSA's offensive coordinator. The system under Brown is very similar to that of what Bush ran, except now there are even more formations that develop quickly. On any give drive you could see a two tight end set, two back set or a trips WR formation or even a pistol formation. Brown's offense really is multiple in every sense of the word.

Scheme-wise, you'll find a balanced rush vs pass attack. Passing-wise, UTSA does not typically take a bunch of shots down the field. You'll see multiple receivers catch passes on short, underneath routes. Rushing-wise, UTSA will you 3-5 backs and also mix in some jet sweeps and reverses to receivers.

QB %%MATCH_2%% is the heart and soul of the offense. A very analytical type of a QB, Soza makes plays with his arm and his feet. Although he does not have the biggest arm, his knowledge of the offense and ability to make plays without making mistakes makes him very capable.

WR %%MATCH_1%% is Mr. Everything for UTSA. Jones returns kicks, is the top receiver, and often gets the ball in running situations. In fact, UTSA has a "Wild Kam" formation where Jones lines up in the shotgun formation and takes a direct snap.

3. How do you expect your defense to compete this weekend.

Defensive Coordinator Neal Neathery has nicknamed the UTSA defense the "Hard Hat D" for their workman like attitude. Neathery runs a true 4-2-5 scheme. The defensive line might be the best unit on squad. The Roadrunners literally have two sets of starters on the d-line. You'll see the entire line substitute in and out throughout the game. By design, the linebackers play a huge role and are almost like coaches on the field. The one weakness units on the team is the secondary, which have been known to give up long plays. The Marshall offensive attack will be a huge challenge for the defensive backs.

Hawk Linebacker %%MATCH_6%% is the emotional and physical leader of the Hard Hat Defense. Described by other players and his coach as one of the smartest people on the team, Kurfehs is the on the field coach of the defense. He literally makes calls, puts other players in positions, and flies around the field making plays. Kurfehs has already cemented himself as one of the all-time Roadrunners.

4. What are your expectations of the game this weekend, a prediction?

I am expecting a shoot out. UTSA has some momentum offensively but will have trouble stopping that Marshall pass attack. I think we'll see a lot of scoring and a lot of big plays. 45-28 Marshall.

I don't think there's a ton of knowledge outside of the history of the program. Conference USA is somewhat of a transition this season with the addition and subtraction of several teams. Being a member of separate divisions in the conference, I believe UTSA fans have a healthy respect for the tradition and history of Marshall football. That said, fans will absolutely use this game as a measuring stick coming off a tough loss to an in-state foe.

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