Jeff Huehn / UTSA Athletics
The University of Houston went into Friday’s game 10.5 Vegas favorites. ESPN was quoted saying, “Has Larry Coker resurrected his career?” To all in attendance within the new TDECU Stadium, reminders of last season’s 59-28 trounce was a distant memory. UTSA dominated the game and quieted the 40,755 Houston fans in attendance at John O’Quinn Field, defeating the Cougars 27-7.
As newly inducted members of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), UTSA undoubtedly obtained their biggest win in program history.
“I don’t know one (game) bigger, everyone has a big win obviously, but with this being a good Houston team, and it being so close to home, this one feels good to have under our belt,” said UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker after the school’s fourth consecutive opening season win.
After a season in which the Cougars led the nation in turnover margins, the Roadrunners unexpectedly forced the most turnovers in UTSA school history. With six total turnovers forced, the Roadrunners completely shut down a prolific Houston offense for the better part of four quarters.
UTSA held Houston to a mere seven points on the night, with minus-26 yards on the ground.
“I really compliment our defensive front; we really played well on the secondary,” said Coker. “But the pressure was on Houston’s quarterback. I think it was really frustrating for them, he (O’Korn) was on his back quite a bit, and Coach Neathery had a great game plan for us tonight.”
The Roadrunner’s defense showed the poise and experience that comes with being senior-ladened. Coming into the 2014 season, the UTSA offense underwent massive reconstruction after the departure of long time signal caller Eric Soza. Questions loomed over the production of the offense and who would lead the seasoned Roadrunners.
Senior quarterback Tucker Carter undeniably answered the call, with leadership and poise.
“It feels great to get the win, there’s always room for improvement and you can’t simulate a game with a crowd like that,” said Carter on snagging his first win of the season.
The only thing both teams had in common was the shaky start each had on offense. Both quarterbacks seemed nervous, as each had early fumbles, but it was Carter who seemed to calm down after a mishandled punt by the Cougars set UTSA up for a first and goal early in the first quarter.
Senior running back David Glasco II capped off the botched punt by diving into the end zone from a three-yard run, putting UTSA up 7-0 and igniting Roadrunner fans everywhere.
“Glasco and Williams really got after it in the running game. It gives us a great advantage with our offensive line playing well and making lanes,” said UTSA quarterback Carter.
UTSA’s offense racked up 27 points on the Cougars, and although it wasn’t the prettiest sight, Coach Coker stated we haven’t seen anything yet.
“Tucker did a nice job, made some plays,” stated Coker. “But you haven’t seen his best performance, he’s going to be special and we definitely need to help him out.”
In four years, the Roadrunners have amassed talent, become bowl eligible, and seemed to be at the pinnacle of UTSA football. They not only possess the strength in schedule — playing teams like Oklahoma State and Rice — but also are slowly exhibiting the physicality and toughness seen in bigger programs around the nation.
“It’s amazing where we are. Three years ago we barely had a team,” said Coker. “Now we are playing division one football, and winning. There are definitely more big ones (wins) to come.”
Character is something this 2014 squad prides themselves on, and settling for points here and there will not suffice if they are to continue winning against dominant FBS teams.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re up 24-0, or down 0-24, you still have to give one-hundred percent,” Glasco reflected. “We have guys on this team that have a bunch of character. You can go to a lot of colleges in the nation; it’s going to be hard to match a team with a lot of character.”
UTSA’s next opponent, Arizona, handed the Roadrunner’s a devastating loss just like the Cougars did last season. However, a lot can change in a year. If the Roadrunners can display the same kind of character and confidence as they did against Houston, they yet again might surprise the Roadrunner faithful.
UTSA (1-0) will take on the Arizona Wildcats (1-0) in their home opener at the Alamodome, Thursday, September 4, at 7:00 pm.