Entering just its third season as FBS members in 2014, I recall a specific aura surrounding Texas-San Antonio.
Phil Steele had praised the Roadrunners for the amount of senior experience listed on the roster, considering head coach Larry Coker had been toying with the same depth chart for the fourth consecutive season. And once the Roadrunners whipped up a road win at Houston, I initially believed this team could make positive strides within conference play.
I was completely misled.
2014 Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Key Wins: Houston
Key Losses: Texas-El Paso, New Mexico, Florida Atlantic
I’ll refrain from making assumptions that one game completely flipped the tide in 2014, but you can absolutely pinpoint Week 2 versus Arizona.
Hanging with a PAC-12 opponent for seemingly four quarters, a three-point loss to the Wildcats could have been viewed as an optimistic stepping stone as UTSA geared itself for the remainder of the season. However, the mentality appeared to had been thrown out of the window, as the Roadrunners suffered consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and a home defeat to the New Mexico Lobos–a club that’s held a 4-34 record in road games since 2008.
Following the win versus Houston to open up 2014, Coker had managed three more victories, yet by a meager 12 points combined: a game-winning field goal versus Southern Mississippi, another successful field goal against Florida International with under a minute remaining, and a go-ahead score versus North Texas in the latter parts of the fourth quarter; the Roadrunners could have easily suffered double-digit losses if not for late-game heroics against subpar opposition.
To make matters worse, the experience goes for naught as the ones that built the program depart in 2015. Texas-Antonio will be one of the most short-handed squads in America come fall, and as bleak as it appears, that’s just the first obstacle in a laundry list of roadblocks.
The Roadrunners measure up with Arizona once more to open the campaign, and will also step toe-to-toe with capable non-conference opponents in Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Colorado State.
Once conference play begins in October, UTSA will welcome a large portion of the C-USA high-society to its friendly confines in Louisiana Tech, Rice, Middle Tennessee, a trio of clubs that hold the upper-hand on paper. The road tests will be the key contests, as the Roadrunners will look to upend North Texas Southern Mississippi once more, two teams that gave them fits in 2014.
The same figure that acted as the ringleader for Miami’s 2001 National Championship has compiled a 23-23 clip since taking the reins of Texas-San Antonio.
No degrading here, as Coker’s given the task of piecing together a newfound program that is attempting to station itself within a FBS conference. With that being said, his fresh five-year deal in 2014 may have opened up a small gap for complacency.
While it’s questionable that UTSA would part ways with Coker’s experience, it’s rather easy to let off the gas pedal knowing your job is secure. Upon the loss to Arizona in 2014, there lacked a sense of urgency to mend the wounds, and not a big win on the docket aside from the opener.
I’ll make this as straightforward as I possibly can and nab Texas-San Antonio as 3-9 team for 2015. A hoard of newcomers should contribute, but a senior-heavy club in 2014 rarely did damage to a manageable schedule. The Roadrunners should be in for a brutal four-month stretch.