In preparation for the big matchup this weekend we did a little question and answer session with Cooler Chronicles, a UTSA blog. It is a site yours truly helped begin but this Q&A isn’t with myself. It is with my buddy Jared, long time fan and current UTSA student who has followed the program from the very beginning.
Mean Green Nation: How long does Larry Coker run this thing and who replaces him? Not a name necessarily, but a type—young up-and-comer or another Larry Coker-type?
Cooler Chronicles: I don’t know if there’s really an answer to the first half of this question yet. Obviously Larry will be here for as long as he wants to be. The 65 year old seems to be in great health and great spirits and is in a low-pressure situation at UTSA. At the absolute least, Coker will stick around until after his first recruiting class graduates following the 2014 season. Many fans have speculated that Larry will step down after leading UTSA to its first bowl game victory.
After Larry retires I can see the administration moving in one of two directions: a.) An internal promotion or b.) Bringing in a young-ish coach with heavy San Antonio or Texas connections that could help UTSA make a jump to the next level through recruiting advancement. If athletic director Lynn Hickey opts to keep the staff in place by promoting from within then the most likely choice for head coach should be offensive coordinator Kevin Brown. Brown, a former receiver at TCU, was bumped up to offensive coordinator after Travis Bush was hired at Houston. Kevin is consistently praised for his professionalism, preparation, and his crisp and effective offense. One outside candidate I would like to see UTSA take a look at is Mike Jinks, current running backs coach at Texas Tech. Jinks is known for building a powerhouse at Cibolo Steele, a young school on the northern outskirts of San Antonio. Mike has a great offensive mind and a player-friendly demeanor. Most encouraging is the relationship Jinks has with high school coaches in San Antonio and the state of Texas. He’s a bit of a cult hero in the Alamo City. This has paid off for Tech as Jinks has lured several of the city’s top players to Lubbock. If Jinks is able to land an offensive coordinator gig somewhere in the coming years he could become a hot commodity on the coaching market.
MGN: Lots of folks like to disparage UTSA and the program as moving along too quickly – obviously UTSA has been defying the naysayers the entire time. Still, what is the biggest concern you have about the new program?
CC: Biggest concern is the number of players graduating in 2014. UTSA was wise to build their program from the ground up with freshmen instead of JUCO athletes and transfers but it will come at a price in 2014 when somewhere near 40 athletes graduate at once. There’s no denying that the players coming from the last two recruiting classes are vastly superior athletes to the 44 student athletes on the roster that are juniors but will the increase in size, speed, and strength be enough to bridge the gap in game time experience?
MGN: Would you really retire Eric Soza’s number 8?
CC: Oh yeah. What Eric has done is so important and unique. I don’t care how many touchdowns he did or did not throw as a Roadrunner. This ship would not have sailed this far, this fast without Eric’s leadership on the field and his statesmanship off of it. Soza has been a perfect representative for the university and has been the complete realization of the “Student Athlete” construct. Whether or not the administration choses to retire his number, Soza will remain a legend in the eyes of UTSA fans for the eternity of the program’s history.
MGN: How does UTSA win this thing?
CC: UTSA’s defense has played pretty damn well down the stretch thanks to a new personnel package that has been rotated in on third and long situations. I’m not particularly worried about UNT’s offense racking up more than 30 points on the Roadrunners. That could change if UTSA’s offense coughs up the ball a couple of times. Soza had an interception streak through the middle of the season but he seems to have recovered as he hasn’t thrown a pick in four consecutive outings. UNT’s defense is quick and hard hitting. Roadrunner ball carriers must keep the ball off of the grass and execute on special teams to ensure that the Mean Green offense has to drive the length of the field to get points on the board.
MGN: Everyone knows about Eric Soza and his ability – what is the least-talked about weapon in UTSA’s arsenal.
CC: Junior running back David Glasco has quietly put together a fantastic season. The 5’10”, 200 pound running back has pounded out a solid 5.3 yard per carry average on his way to 494 yards on the ground with five rushing touchdowns and one reception in the end zone against New Mexico. David has averaged 95.3 yards per game in his last three outings but he sat out against Tulane with a foot injury. Glasco is a smart runner and a tough tackle that can fight through initial contact for first downs.
On defense, Ashaad Mabry is a likely first-team all-conference player that gets overshadowed by guys like Triston Wade and Steven Kurfehs. Mabry is a menacing 6’3”, 315 defensive tackle that can run sideline to sideline, shed double teams, and bull rush his way through the passing pocket. Expect to see UNT double up on Mabry to protect Byrd and Thompson.