Two Games, Six DaysWhat a wild six days. From the season-opening win in Houston two Fridays ago to Thursday's narrow loss to Arizona in the home-opener, a lot happened in less than a week. Now that we've a few days to take a breather, we can take a small step back and really look at what has worked, what hasn't, and hopefully get an idea on how the rest of the season will shake out. In general, it appears the offense looks like it will continue to be a multiple dink and dunk type of attack. That description doesn't necessarily have to have a negative meaning. In fact, I've always believed the multiple attack and different personnel packages gives UTSA an advantage. Defensively, it was a tale of two games. Against Houston, the Hard Hat D looked like world beaters. But then against Arizona, the Wildcats set an opponent rushing record. My take is that the d-line will without a doubt be one of the best units in CUSA. Special teams has had their ups and downs, overall, more positive than negative. As a whole, you've got to like how UTSA has played just after 2 games.
No Moral Victories, But...I will be the first one to tell you that there are no moral victories in sports. But the way UTSA played Thursday night vs Arizona was special. Clearly UTSA going toe to toe with a PAC 12 school on national television and nearly squeaking out a victory speaks for itself. But following the game, it was a conversation with UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo that made me realize how truly special this team his. Romo told me that he had just told the team in the locker room that they were making history, and that even though they had lost, the game was the best game they've ever played. Now some of that may have been emotions in the moment, but as I stood on the field late in the fourth quarter watching UTSA trying to come back, it hit me. Tim Brando was calling the game on FoxSports 1, the student section was riled up late, and the entire 'Dome was rockin' on a defensive third down situation. This game, this atmosphere, and the competitiveness was everything that one could envision big time college football to be. What a day, what a moment. A very long time ago back when Larry Coker was working at ESPN and football was still a dream, Athletic Director Lynn Hickey told me that UTSA Football was going to be a big deal. In the first three seasons, some significant milestones have been passed, but I think it's important to acknowledge Thursday for what it really was, UTSA's national coming out party. And while players, coaches, staff, and fans would have much rather preferred a win, it's important to acknowledge how far the program has come in such a short amount of time. For those who have watched the program grow closely since its inception, moments like Thursday can easily be overlooked. Don't. Sometimes you win, even when you lose.
Young Talent vs ExperienceA total of 14 freshman have played in the first two games of the 2014 season. That's an astonishing number considering all of the experience on the roster as well as the magnitude of the two games. Having been able to see some of the young players in practice, you can't help but get excited. WR's Kerry Thomas and Aron Taylor are going to be really good. DE Marcus Davenport is already making an impact. DBs Nate Gaines, Nkeal Bailey, Stanley Dye Jr and others all look the part of quality Division 1 athletes. Simply put, the next wave to UTSA players are more talented. But what the 37 seniors on this 2014 squad have done is truly remarkable. Here are a bunch of under-recruited prospects who practiced an entire year without playing games. To say these players have maximized their talent is an understatement. UTSA may have better talent in the coming years, but cornerstones like O-Linemen Nate Leonard, Scott Inskeep, RB David Glasco, S Triston Wade, CB Darrien Starling, and others have stepped up and made the most of what they had. Defensive Coordinator Neal Neathery may have said it best saying that he wouldn't trade any of the original guys for any player.
Mr. CarterQB Tucker Carter threw what turned out to be a game-defining interception vs Arizona. With that one exception, Carter has played relatively well. While the offense has not clicked on all cylinders yet, Carter has done a good job managing the offense. OC Kevin Brown has said he wants Carter to have a completion percentage of 65%. In game 1, Carter was at about 62% while in game 2, he was around 67%. I think it's important to remember the competition UTSA has faced early in this season. Like Head Coach Larry Coker, I still believe Carter's best football is a head of him. I fully expect him to settle into a groove once conference play starts.
Backup QBsMuch was made about Coker's pre-season comments on expecting to play three quarterbacks vs Houston. Through two games, we've seen a steady stream of Tucker Carter and backup redshirt freshman Austin Robinson in a handful of plays. True freshman Blake Bogenschutz has suited up every game but has not seen any action. We saw Robinson in two plays vs Arizona. Both plays were designed QB runs. In the second quarter vs Arizona, Robinson looked very athletic rushing for 8 yards. In the fourth quarter, Robinson was tackled for no gain on the same play. Based on what I've seen in practice, I'd expect this to be the normal throughout the season. Barring any injury at this position, Carter will get the brunt of the work and Robinson will be used as a change of pace threat. Being able to redshirt Bogenschutz is probably the best-case scenario.
Two-Headed MonsterRB David Glasco has shown that he will be a workhorse in the backfield for the UTSA offense. In two games, Glasco has emerged as the leader of the offense. But his teammate in the backfield, Jarveon Williams, may be emerging UTSA's most dynamic weapon overall. Williams has amassed more than 100 all-purpose yards in both games so far in 2014. Those totals include Williams' contributions in rushing, pass catching, and kick off returns. The one-two punch of Glasco and Williams has the potential to be a very dangerous combination for the 'Runners.
Game of the Year IIII have a running discussion with several people in the know that nearly week in and week out, UTSA is involved in significantly big games. Larry Coker called the season-opening win in Houston the biggest in program history. A week later, the same could have been said about the Arizona game. Now as UTSA travels to Stillwater to face a banged up Oklahoma State squad, the 'Runners again have an opportunity for another signature program win. The Cowboys will likely be without two key offensive starters. Most notable is QB J.W. Walsh, who torched UTSA in last season's game. Walsh broke his foot over the weekend and is expected to miss a significant amount of time. But injuries are a part of the game of football. Certainly UTSA or any other team is not immune. Oklahoma State is an established Big 12 program, so it will be next man up. Historically, UTSA has played well in road games. So there will be an interesting matchup on Saturday as the 'Runners will again go toe to toe with a Power Five Conference school. I'll be Stillwater to take it all in.
It will be my goal to publish JJ's Journal every Monday for the remainder of the football season. If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the Forum.