Four Down Territory 9.13.16

Presenting a weekly post in which InsideRunnerSports’ JJ Perez tackles four burning topics facing UTSA this week. Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.

Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.

UTSA travelled to Fort Collins, CO this past weekend with hopes of an upset victory. They returned to San Antonio with another single-digit loss to Colorado State, the second in as many seasons. For as close of a game as it was (it was a one-score difference nearly the entire second half), it was overshadowed by the notion that UTSA simply couldn’t do enough to win that day. Neither the offense, defense, nor special teams were at their finest. Head Coach Frank Wilson said it best following the game “The reality is, today we were not good enough. We didn't deserve victory." That’s a humbling notion. And one that may disappoint some. But that’s what this game is built on. College football is an up and down of a sport. On any given Saturday you will see a team rise up out of nowhere to stun someone. This past week for UTSA, it wasn’t in the cards. Maybe if a break or two goes the Roadrunners’ way, it’s a different story. But it didn’t. That’s week two college football. There are ten more to go. Shake it off.

We saw UTSA use two quarterbacks again this past week. Coach Wilson has already said that he anticipates playing two signal callers vs Arizona State. So where do we stand at QB?

Heading into week three and the UTSA quarterback saga continues. At this point, it is what it is. Jared Johnson got to play more than one series at a time this is past week and looked okay. The same could be said about Dalton Sturm. Both had success and both struggled. For much of the offseason (fall practices) the QB competition was said to be neck and neck. So after two games, is anyone really surprised that it’s probably about the same with Sturm having only a slight advantage? Many subscribe to the notion that “if you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have one.” I do not think that is the case at UTSA considering the circumstances. Sturm is a former walkon who worked his way from fourth string to starter in less than a year. Then you have a graduate transfer who is taking a heavy load of graduate courses and had to miss some practice time early on. Coach Wilson said for the first time last week that Johnson’s been playing catch up because of his courses. Both players have their backs against the wall, so to speak. Sturm, the starter for the first three games of the season, is charged with holding on to his job. Johnson has the pressure of living up to the status of former Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year. When a coach says the depth chart is etched in sand, that means that every position is up for grabs from week to week. Including the quarterback position. I said before the season I thought we’d see both Sturm and Johnson. After two weeks, that seems like the plan for the foreseeable future.

What’s is going on with UTSA in the trenches?

The answer is simple. They were outmatched last week. In week one, both units played okay vs FCS Alabama State. But in week two, Colorado State simply looked bigger and stronger, on both sides of ball. Give credit to both lines for being able to hang in as much as they did. Especially the defensive line. In the first half it looked like CSU would be able to rush the ball at will. Then in the second half, UTSA put the clamps down. It was the second time this season that’s happened. So you know UTSA’s d-line has the ability to stop opposing offenses, they need to get better at making in-game adjustments. It seems like that will come with time. On the flip side, the offensive line and quarterback position struggled under immense pressure from CSU’s defense. Some of that was lapses in protection, some of it was the play of the quarterback, and some of it was good Colorado State defense. It’s my experience that things are never as good as they seem and they are never as bad as they seem. I can’t imagine that anyone thinks the offensive line played well last week, but that just leaves room more room to improve moving forward. Nowhere else to go but up. 

A 1-1 start to the 2016 season isn’t disastrous. The sky isn’t falling. Sure last week vs Colorado State was a winnable game on the road vs a vulnerable opponent. A win would have likely propelled the energy and excitement heading into this week to another level. It also would have put the ‘Runners one game closer to that six-game win mark and a potential bowl bid. The loss makes things that much more difficult. UTSA will likely need to go 5-3 in Conference USA play to hit six wins. And while that seems insurmountable now, it may not be come October or November. The point is there’s still so much football to play, more than two full months. Frank Wilson likes to use the term “Don’t Flinch” when talking to players about the mentality it takes to be a Roadrunner football player. Rarely in sports do things go as planned. The lessons learned from losses are often times greater than in victories. Don’t flinch RunnerNation. 

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