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Group of 5 notes: UTSA’s Dalton Sturm, Smurf Turf

(Photo by Steve Conner/Icon Sportswire)

Dalton Sturm is …

  1. A minor character in “Justified.”
  2. The starting quarterback at UTSA.
  3. A B-movie cowboy from 1930s Hollywood.
  4. An advocate lawyer in Texas known for his 10-gallon Stetson and bombastic late-night TV ads.

The answer is B.

Sturm walked on at UTSA in 2014 and a year ago was competing just to get a few snaps in practice. Before he was placed on scholarship, he was waiting tables to earn extra money.

In the Roadrunners’ 26-13 season-opening defeat of Alabama State, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Sturm completed his first eight attempts and 14 of his first 15. He threw for a career-high 274 yards and two touchdowns. The junior also had a 51-yard TD run.

28 November 2015: UTSA Roadrunners quarterback Dalton Sturm (14) tries to avoid a Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defender during an NCAA football game between the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the UTSA Roadrunners at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire)

28 November 2015: UTSA Roadrunners quarterback Dalton Sturm (14) tries to avoid a Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defender during an NCAA football game between the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the UTSA Roadrunners at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire)

Sturm and Jared Johnson, a transfer from Sam Houston State, battled for the starting job. Sturm, who made seven starts last season, won the job for the opener.

“I had a couple of good plays and couple of good games last season,” Sturm said. “But this one, this game I felt the most comfortable I have in a college game so far. And hopefully, I can just keep building on that feeling to become even more comfortable.”

Sturm’s starts last season came in the midst of a 3-9 season that resulted in a coaching change. Sturm might have benefited from the fresh start and the hiring of new coach Frank Wilson. While at Southern Miss, Wilson coached Austin Davis, a former walk-on who has gone on to play in the NFL.

“They happen,” said Wilson, whose team plays at Colorado State Saturday. “Every now and then, you find one who has something inside of them — a desire or a will — for the platform to be in there. Dalton Sturm is that guy.”

Great Combo: Mike Leach on Smurf Turf

Boise State’s blue turf made its debut in 1986. Since 2000, the Broncos are 96-6 at home, a .941 winning percentage that is the best in college football during that time frame. Boise State’s last loss at home in a non-conference game came on Dec. 28, 2005.

Washington State, coming off a season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, plays at Boise State Saturday. Cougars coach Mike Leach expressed his concern over Broncos’ staff members having eye strain watching their blue-clad players play on the Smurf Turf.

“I’m glad I don’t have to watch film on it every day, to be honest with you,” Leach said. “I think secretly those assistant coaches and those coaches at Boise, despite the fact it’s a trademark thing, would rather watch their guys practice on grass so the bodies, there’s a little more contrast with them, running around than on blue turf. I’d rather watch it on green than a variety of colors.”

Leach also commented on the frequent reports of birds diving into the turf mistaking it for a body of water.

“I think animal-rights groups should keep an eye on it so ducks don’t break their necks trying to dive in,” he said.

Play for Hawaii, see the world

Hawaii, which opened the season against Cal in Sydney, Australia, before the season’s official first week, played its second game at Michigan Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors have already traveled 19,112 miles for their first two games (the earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles).

According to AthlonSports.com, in its first two road games, Hawaii has traveled farther than the total distances teams in three Power Five conferences will travel this season for their non-conference games. SEC teams: 12,940 miles. Big Ten teams: 12,590 miles. Big 12 teams: 9,455 miles.

The Pac-12 and ACC non-conference travel mileage is skewed by the fact that Cal traveled to Australia while Georgia Tech and Boston College opened ACC play in Dublin, Ireland.

According to the school, the Rainbow Warriors will travel a total of 46,568 miles in the air and 766 miles by bus. But when they’re home … they’re in Hawaii.

Tweet of the week

The Rubik’s Cube made its debut in 1974 but remains a favorite hands-on puzzle. Rice sophomore offensive tackle Calvin Anderson displayed this neat trick – a behind-the-back solve. (His secret is a photographic memory.)

Notes and numbers


  • A high five and a fist bump to Air Force, which will wear this way-cool helmet for Saturday’s home game with Georgia State. (And, no, silly this has nothing to do with “Shark Week.”) The Air Force Academy athletic department is promoting an Airpower Legacy Series that focuses on the Air Force’s aircraft. The Tiger Shark teeth on this helmet copies nose-art which has been represented on multiple Air Force aircraft dating back to World War II. During the WWII era, a group of American pilots flying P-40 fighters in China had the nose are and were called “Flying Tigers.”
  • The price of a ticket to Saturday’s Holy War between BYU and Utah at the Utes’ Rice-Eccles Stadium could impact a fan’s tithing on Sunday. The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that an internet search of ticket sites reveals the average price for a ticket is nearly $250. Standing room is going for $100. A low-level seat nearly the 50-yard line costs nearly $1,000.
  • On schedules: Ball State plays at Indiana Saturday and the Cardinals have a three-game winning streak over the Hoosiers. A Ball State victory would even the series at 4-4. Middle Tennessee is 3-1 in its series with Vanderbilt and the Blue Raiders have won all three games played in Nashville, the site of Saturday’s game.
  • UCF, in ending its 13-game losing streak with a 38-0 defeat of South Carolina State, ran 91 plays in its first game under new head coach Scott Frost – the most plays for the Knights since they ran 92 against Kent State in the 2002 season.
  • Two Mid-American Conference teams lost triple overtime games. Ohio lost, 56-54, Texas State while Northern Illinois dropped a 40-34 game at Wyoming. Ohio’s loss was the first triple OT game in program history. The last time the MAC had a contest go to the third overtime or longer was Buffalo’s 26-23 win over Stony Brook in five overtime sessions in 2013.

Coach speak

SMU coach Chad Morris, whose team won at North Texas and plays at Baylor Saturday:

“We started off the season with a win coming off what we went through last year at 2-10.  We’re better than we were at any point last year. This team is still young. We’ve played 31 of the 47 kids we’ve signed over the last two years. We’re extremely young right now. This team has the opportunity to improve and get better each week.”

Group of 5 notes: UTSA’s Dalton Sturm, Smurf Turf

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