JJ’s Journal Entry for 9.30.15
Another Close Loss
It’s become a frustrating trend. UTSA plays surprising well against a larger/more-established program but make a few mistakes and come up short. I, for one, was surprised about how well UTSA bounced back from a terrible showing vs Oklahoma State. UTSA played well enough to win against Colorado State. While they did have some mistakes (a redzone interception and some penalties), they also made some big-time plays. Jarveon Williams and Jalen Rhodes ran well and scored touchdowns. Williams’ 85 yard house call may end up going down as one of the most exciting moments of this season. QB Blake Bogenschutz was steady as he connected with TE David Morgan for another touchdown. But in the end, it just felt like CSU was the better squad. The Rams won the battle of the trenches and controlled the line of scrimmage. UTSA played well, but a win in that game would have been an upset. As I wrote the night of the game, a win like that feels so close but also so far at the same time.
Well, UTSA went winless in non-conference. I’m not sure that anyone from outside of the program would have expected anything different. In fact, a popular prediction among Roadrunner faithful in the preseason was a 1-3 non-conference record. But the way UTSA played in the season-opener vs Arizona changed some of those expectations. There are no two ways about it, that four game non-conference schedule was a gauntlet. It was probably too tough. But that’s the draw UTSA had this season. The ‘Runners could have very well won two of the four games. And while that notion frustrates fans even further, it should also excite them as that also likely means improvement will be coming in conference play.
UTEP and CUSA up next
Up next for the Roadrunners is Conference USA play. UTSA returns to where Conference USA play started for them, the Sun Bowl in El Paso. Two years ago as a new member of Conference USA, UTSA posted their first-ever conference win on the road against UTEP. This season, the Miners are 2-2 but their two losses came to Texas Tech and Arkansas. Last Season, the Miners dominated UTSA at the Alamodome in what was likely the worst game of the season for the Roadrunners. So there’s a lot to watch in this game. Which UTEP team is going to show up? Which UTSA team is going to show up? One thing I believe, however, is that it’s truly a clean slate in CUSA, especially in the west. La Tech, as well as Rice, have shown they’re good. However, with everyone playing different levels of competition in non-conference play, it’s hard to get a gauge of just how good everyone will be. As Coach Coker mentioned this week, CUSA is wide open.
QB Blake Bogenschutz
After a record-breaking performance to start the season, QB Blake Bogenschutz has certainly had his shares of ups and downs this season. The downs have been the turnovers. Those stats can’t be camouflaged. However, Bogenschutz has rebounded from his struggles nicely. His current stats are as follows: 62 for 107 passing for 699 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. One thing I look at closely with UTSA QBs over the years is completion percentage. UTSA doesn’t take a lot of shots down the field so the passes they throw need to be accurate. Offensive Coordinator Kevin Brown has told me on several occasions that he wants his QBs completing at least 60% of their passes. This season, Bogenschutz is completing 58% of his passes. He hasn’t been as accurate as he has been at other times but still, 58% is pretty good. I think if he can get his percentage to around 65%, Bogenschutz has the potential to become one of the best QBs in Conference USA. People tend to forget he’s still a redshirt freshman with a lot of room to grow.
Safety Nate Gaines
The Sophomore from Mesquite, Texas has played very well to start this 2015 campaign. All he’s done the last two games is set personal records in tackles while pacing the entire team in that category. Against Colorado State, he made a game-changing interception in the endzone that was negated due to a phantom pass interference penalty. Gaines has been a force in the secondary for UTSA. Taking the place of all-conference Safety Triston Wade, Gaines plays a lot like the way Wade did. As a true Sophomore, Gaines’ potential is limitless. One thing that has endeared him to the Roadrunner faithful is his willingness to lay the wood. Gaines is not afraid to hit. In fact, he may be one of the biggest hitters on a defense full of hard-hitting players.
Football is a violent sport. I’ve had family members play who suffer major injuries in this sport and it’s just tough to see what the game does to someone physically. Anyone who has spent anytime around the game knows that it’s not if but when a player goes down. UTSA has had their fair share of injuries this season, maybe even a little bit more than their fair share. On Saturday, UTSA played without 10 key players. Three other players suffered injuries during the game. It’s been a long and tough non-conference road for the ‘Runners. But that road is done and help, apparently, is on the way. Starters Drew Douglas, Juan Perez-Isidoro, and Trevor Baker are expected to be available when UTSA hits the field Saturday night in El Paso. With still a handful of players noted as questionable, there are still some important players that need to get healthy. With UTSA’s bye still three weeks away, it’ll be up to the staff to try and get these players back healthy on the fly, which isn’t always an easy task.
Closing Thoughts – Take a Deep Breath
No one likes losing. There’s a common football saying that goes something like “I hate losing more than I like winning.” Losing is terrible and demoralizing. But coming in, everyone knew the 2015 non-conference schedule was a gauntlet. And UTSA has paid the price. Not only with a win-less record but with numerous injuries. Now, all of that is over. It’s only one month into the season. The season is not lost. On the contrary, the real season is just beginning. A personal motto of mine has been that you learn more about yourself in times of despair than in other instances. You can make that correlation to sports and UTSA. The 2015 Roadrunners have learned more about themselves in losing than they may have in winning. No one likes to continually hear how young this team is but that’s the truth. The win/loss record doesn’t necessarily mean as much as how the team plays. It’s been a bumpy ride up to this point, but it really is just starting.