Continuing our weekly series checking in with the beat writer who covers Oklahoma State’s upcoming opponent.
Jerry Briggs covers Texas-San Antonio for the San Antonio Express-News. You can read his work here.
1. UTSA is a program very few people around these parts know a ton about, since it’s still so new. How would you assess what Larry Coker and Co. have done to get this program off the ground? How have fans, donors, etc. rallied behind the team? What kind of atmosphere can we expect at the Alamodome Saturday?
The Roadrunners have been well received in the San Antonio community. They drew more than 56,000 for their opener two years ago. In 12 home games over two years, they’ve averaged 32,273. Officially, they’re expecting between 40,000 and 45,000 for Saturday. I think we could see close to 50,000 if the students turn out.
2. What’s the scouting report on the Roadrunners’ offense? OSU coach Mike Gundy highlighted QB Eric Soza and WR Kam Jones at his press conference Monday. Any other players that we should look out for?
Soza is the man in the UTSA offense. He was out two games last fall with a hip injury. In the other 10, UTSA went 8-2. So, UTSA is 9-2 with Soza under center in his 11 starts since 2012, including last week’s comeback victory at New Mexico. He is resourceful and can extend plays with his quick feet. UTSA is making a concerted effort to get receiver Kam Jones involved early in games.
3. What about the UTSA defense? How will they plan to use that 4-2-5 scheme to attack the Cowboys? Does anything change with the announcement that mobile QB J.W. Walsh will start for OSU?
The UTSA defense seems to be much better equipped to face high-level competition this year. The unit is pretty deep in the line and at linebackers and played a lot of people at those positions against New Mexico. New Mexico didn’t throw the ball very well, so it remains to be seen what will happen when Walsh and the OSU receivers start to test the secondary.
4. What was the key to that 99-yard TD drive against New Mexico? How much confidence can that give the Roadrunners moving forward?
Soza was really good on the 99-yard drive. With the offense backed up on the 1, he hit Marcellus Mack on a 15-yard pass on the first play. He also scrambled for a big gainer. Jones caught a pass and broke tackles for a 35-yard gain. And then Soza, on another scramble, hit David Glasco II with an 8-yard shovel pass for the TD.
5. What needs to happen for UTSA to hang around in this game?
I think the offensive line needs to protect the QB a little better than it did last week. It would help if the offense could also establish a running game without having to ask Soza to be involved in so much of it. Also, UTSA might need to augment plays to its fast guys on the outside with a few throws down the middle. OSU will score some points on offense. That’s just a given. To keep it respectable, UTSA needs to avoid having the visitors turn it into a track meet.