UTSA football coach Larry Coker will have to wait a few more months to see how much his team has improved since its inaugural season last year, but he expressed optimism after the Roadrunners' spring game Sunday.
UTSA finished 4-6 as an independent in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), but will step up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) this season when it moves into the Western Athletic Conference.
"It's going to be tougher," Coker said. "There's no doubt about it. But I expect to be competitive. I see us being somewhat like we were last year from the standpoint that there are no guarantees we'll beat anybody, but I think we can compete with everybody and have a chance against everybody. That's kind of the way it was last year."
Given the tougher competition the Roadrunners will face this season, does Coker think they can finish at least .500.
"I do," Coker said. "If you told me you can finish .500 now and put that in the bank and you take it, I wouldn't do that. I want to play it out. We might be better than .500."
Led by three quarterbacks who completed 26 of 40 passes for 318 yards and one touchdown, the White team edged the Blue squad 44-42 before a crowd of 4,736 at the Alamodome.
The scrimmage ended spring training for the Roadrunners, who open their season against South Alabama on Aug. 30 in Mobile, Ala.
Coker praises Soza, Glasco
Junior Eric Soza, who started every game last season, completed 6 of 8 passes with one interception for 108 yards. Junior Tucker Carter, who transferred from Trinity Valley Community College, hit 11 of 19 attempts with two interceptions for 121 yards and one TD.
Sophomore running back David Glasco II led the ground game with 58 yards on 11 carries, and sophomore Josiah Monroe paced the receivers with six receptions for 60 yards.
Coker said he thought Glasco "separated himself" from the competition at running back with his performance in the spring game.
"He did a nice job of running the football," Coker said.
"I still think I have a lot to work on," Glasco said. "I am a little more explosive. That's a result of a lot of hard work in the offseason, and me being upset not satisfied with my performance last season and me just determined that I'm going to prove a point. What I did today was a result of all that, and I hope to keep building on that."
Coker also praised Soza, who was steady throughout spring training.
"He's definitely improved this spring over what he did last fall," Coker said. "He's a better player."
Soza: 'We know the offense'
Soza said that the Roadrunners' offense has improved markedly since last spring.
"Experience helps a lot," he said. "With a whole season under our belt, we're able to see things a little better. I'm just proud of the whole offensive line. It's totally different than last year.
"We know the offense. We're not thinking about it out of the huddle. That's one of the things about the skill positions. Once you're not thinking anymore, you're able to play a lot faster."
The Roadrunners' offense, or the White team, piled up 488 yards. The White's scores came on a 6-yard run by junior running back Evans Okotcha, 23 and 25-yard field goals by sophomore Sean Ianno and Carter's 9-yard pass to sophomore David Morgan.
Sophomore wide receiver Josiah Monroe caught six passes for 60 yards.
The Blue, or the defense, was led by sophomore safety Mauricio Sanchez, who finished with eight tackles. Sophomore linebacker Cody Rogers and senior end Marlon Smith had seven tackles each.
"I feel that we've come a long way," Sanchez said. "Within the first week of practice, things were looking way better than they did all year last year. We've got playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. We're playing to the scheme and we know what we're doing."