Texas, known for BBQ, unavoidable heat, and, of course, football. In College Station, Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies look to continue their reign as "top dog of Texas." While in Austin, newly hired Longhorn coach, Charlie Strong is looking to reinvent what used to be a NCAA Powerhouse. But drive down I-35 South and as "The Eyes of Texas" starts to fade away, you'll notice a new program on the rise.
When you think of a college football program in Texas with a legendary coach and a winning attitude, the UTSA Roadrunners most likely aren't the first team that comes to mind. Yet, with Larry Coker leading the way, the Runners have found success in the programs short existence (19-15 in its first 3 seasons). UTSA also boasts the attendance record for a start up program's first game (Sept. 3, 2011 56,743 in attendance) and single season attendance (average 35,521). This season, however, the Roadrunners have their eye set on a different goal, making a bowl game.
UTSA is coming off a very promising 2013 campaign where they went 8-4 overall and 6-2 in Conference USA (they were one Rice loss away from making the C-USA Championship game). In order for a team to be bowl eligible they need to win six games. Though UTSA met this criteria, they were still in their last probationary season, making them ineligible for post season play. They look to capitalize in 2014 and make a bowl game in their first season of eligibility.
2014 will be the year where we see if UTSA can turn the corner into a legitimate NCAA program as its the first season they are losing key players. Quarterback Eric Soza, who holds nearly every offensive record for the Runners, has graduated and finding his replacement will be of the utmost importance if the Roadrunners look to continue their winning ways. One bright spot is that WR Kam Jones is returning for his final season with UTSA. Jones caught 34 passes for 345 yards (avg 10.1 yds a catch). He also rushed for 302 yard on 29 attempts. Jones was used as a return specialist as well with 21 kick returns for 432 yards. Getting Jones back will be huge for the Runners as he is their number one offensive threat.
Coker and company have exceeded every expectation thus far so I see no reason why this team can not excel in 2014, possibly win the Conference USA, and earn the program's first bowl bid.