Credit: Jeff Huehn / UTSA Athletics
UTSA sophomore center Nate Leonard and his teammates on the offensive line did not allow a sack in the Roadrunners' 33-31 win over South Alabama in their season opener last Saturday.
Friday, Sep 7 at 6:22 PM
After winning its season opener with a dramatic finish last Saturday, UTSA has spent this week guarding against getting caught up in the euphoria of the historic victory.
Sophomore Sean Ianno, a former walk-on, kicked a 51-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to lift the Roadrunners to 33-31 win over South Alabama in Mobile, Ala.
The victory was UTSA's first on the road – they were 0-4 away from the Alamodome in their inaugural season last year – and first against a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).
While the theme of the week for the Roadrunners has been to focus on Saturday's home opener against Division II Texas A&M-Commerce, they've also found themselves looking back. But not to last Saturday's thrilling victory.
UTSA players have spent a good part of the week reminding each other of the letdown they had last year after winning their first game in school history before a crowd of 56,743 at the Alamodome.
A week later, Division III McMurry rallied to beat UTSA 24-21.
The Roadrunners said throughout the week that there will be no such lapse when they line up against A&M-Commerce (0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome.
"We won't know if we learned a lesson from last year until after the game, but the attitude on the team is that we've already deleted it from our minds," quarterback Eric Soza said, referring to last week's thrilling victory. "Everything is focused on Commerce now."
A&M-Commerce coming off 31-6 loss in season opener
Defensive tackle Franky Anaya said the memory of last year's loss to McMurry has kept the Roadrunners from taking A&M-Commerce lightly.
"The first thing we talked about (after beating South Alabama) is don't underestimate your opponent," Anaya said. "We watched film of what happened last year and it's still there. It still hurts. We know how good we are and we know how bad we can play. We've got to stay away from the bad side."
Southeast Oklahoma beat A&M-Commerce 31-6 last week in Commerce, outgaining the Lions 335-185 in total offensive yardage.
One of the keys to victory for A&M-Commerce is to put pressure on Soza, but considering how he and his offensive line played against South Alabama, that could be difficult to do. The big guys up front didn't allow a sack and generally gave Soza time to find the open receiver.
Soza, a junior who started every game last season, completed 18 of 30 passes with one interception for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a 58-yard TD pass to Kam Jones and also had scoring strikes of 23 and 34 yards to Cole Hicks and Earon Holmes, respectively. The TD receptions were the first in college for Hicks (Bandera) and Holmes (Brackenridge).
"Eric's throwing the ball real good," Holmes said. "I know that he hasn't missed a workout. He just works hard. He's a true leader."
Coker: From penthouse to outhouse a short trip
Although A&M-Commerce didn't show much punch in its loss last week, UTSA coach Larry Coker said the Roadrunners can't afford to come out flat against the Lions.
"Trust me, we did enough things that we did wrong that we'll have to work on and figure out," Coker said. "We've got to take that next step. It's not really about them. It's about us, because we've got to see how much better we can get. We've got to get better because we know the teams we play down the road are pretty doggone good. We're going to have to play our best every week.
"For the game against South Alabama, we had the entire offseason and summer and five weeks (of preseason workouts) to prepare. Now we've got five days." It's a short window."
Coker said that good fortune can be fleeting in college football.
"It's like that saying, from the penthouse to outhouse," he said. "It's a short trip."
Senior linebacker Brandon Reeves, one of the defensive unit's leaders, left no doubt about
"What happened last year is just sitting in the back of our minds," Reeves said. "We don't want that."
Extra points: UTSA has designated Saturday "First Responders Day" to recognize men and women who respond to emergency situations in and around San Antonio. Special seating has been set aside for the first responders, their families and friends. . . . Former UTSA track and field All-American Teddy Williams, who was on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad the past two seasons, will sign autographs for fans in the north lobby of the Alamodome from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Williams was released by the Cowboys this summer. Cornerback Erik Brown and safety Nic Johnston will suit up for Saturday's game after missing the season opener with injuries. . . . A&M-Commerce won the NAIA Division I national championship in 1972, when the school was named East Texas State. One of the Lions' best players that season was defensive end Harvey Martin, who went on to play in three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Another former East Texas State player, Dwight White, won four Super Bowl rings during his 10-year career (1971-80) with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both are now deceased.