Tuesday, Sep 11 at 10:58 AM
A plain-spoken guy, UTSA football coach Larry Coker likes to keep things simple.
Take his perspective on the remainder of the Roadrunners' season after they beat Texas A&M-Commerce 27-16 in their home opener Saturday, for example.
"There's really not a team on our schedule that we can't beat, but also there's not a team on the schedule that can't beat us,” Coker said. “That's the way we have to approach it."
Saturday's victory gave UTSA its first 2-0 start in history, following a thrilling 33-31 comeback win against South Alabama on the road the previous week.
The Roadrunners play Georgia State (0-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Sean Ianno kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime to lift UTSA to a 17-14 victory against the Panthers last year at the Alamodome. The Roadrunners trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and 14-3 at halftime, before scoring 17 unanswered points to snap a three-game losing streak in their inaugural season.
Coached by Bill Curry, who will retire at the end of the season, Georgia State is coming off a 51-13 road loss to Tennessee. South Carolina State beat the Panthers 33-6 in their season opener.
UTSA playing road game in dome for first time
The Roadrunners took the day off Monday after practicing Sunday.
"We had a good workout yesterday and our players know we are in for a real test with this next game," Coker said Monday at his weekly roundtable session with the media. "We have never been in a dome on the road, so I was a bit concerned about that.
"I told the team yesterday that they are going to play in a professional dome where the Atlanta Falcons play and the SEC Championship is played, and I think that's a great experience for our young team."
The Georgia Dome will be awash in white Saturday as Georgia State fans show their solidarity by wearing white clothing on "White Out Day." UTSA, which usually wears white jerseys on the road, has agreed to don its blue jerseys for the game.
The Roadrunners led Division II A&M-Commerce 24-3 at the half and went ahead 27-3 on a 46-yard field goal by Ianno with 9:14 left in the third quarter. But the Lions held UTSA scoreless the rest of the way and closed the gap to 27-16 on the first play of the fourth period.
While Coker said a "win is a win, no matter how much you win by," he expressed disappointment in the Roadrunners' uneven play on both sides of the ball in the second half of Saturday's game.
"It ain't over until it's over," Coker said. "I want our guys to play through. Don't worry about the clock. Look at the scoreboard when it's over. We didn't finish very well."
Glasco: ‘Contentment is the first sign of failure’
UTSA outgained A&M-Commerce 331-209 in total offensive yardage, but had only 56 rushing yards in the second half.
"When you're playing a football game, regardless of whoever the team is and regardless of the score, you've got to play the whole time," said running back David Glasco, who scored two touchdowns against the Lions. "You can't be looking up at the scoreboard at halftime. Once you relax – I’m always telling myself and telling other people as well – contentment is the first sign of failure.
"Once you relax, that's when the bad stuff starts happening. It's the same principle in life. The higher up you get, the more recognized or the better you get, you've got a target on your back. The most dangerous people in the world are those who don't have anything to lose. We've got to finish better and we're going to get it right."
Quarterback Eric Soza, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown, conceded that the Lions' defense got the best of the Roadrunners in the second half.
"We're happy with the win but we're not satisfied," Soza said. "That's what we can be better at, get more consistent in the second half. We came out a little flat after halftime. Our goal was to establish the running game and keep pounding it and let those guys up front do the work.
"Three points is not going to win you many games in the second half. We've got to be able to finish and close it out strong. If you learn a lot from wins, you learn a lot from losses. Pretty much, they beat us the second half. That's tough to chew. But the big thing is we won."
UTSA, Georgia State traveling similar paths
The UTSA defense held the Lions to only 16 yards rushing on 22 carries for the game, but gave up scoring passes of 61 and 5 yards in the second half.
Safety Steven Kurfehs, one of the leaders of the defense, wrote off the Roadrunners' second-half letdown to inexperience.
"It was just a growing pain," Kurfehs said. "We get up and we're preaching to step on their throats. We had some mental breaks. That just gives them hope. Once they get one little spark, they're right back in it. This week our whole goal is to put them out early and let's keep it that way."
The similarities between UTSA and Georgia State, two of the most recent Division I schools to begin playing football, are striking. Both universities are located in major cities and play their home games in domes located in a downtown area, and both are making the transition to the NCAA's
Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).
Georgia State started playing football in 2010, one year before UTSA, and like the Roadrunners, will become a full-fledged FBS member in 2014. The Panthers will start playing in the Sun Belt Conference next season, while UTSA moves from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA.
The backgrounds of the schools' head coaches are similar. Coker (Miami) and Curry (Alabama, Georgia Tech and Kentucky) have led programs at major colleges in the past and both worked as ESPN analysts.
"I have a good relationship (with Curry), and I have a lot of respect for him," Coker said. "We did something together when we both worked for ESPN. He's a class act and what you see is what you get with him, not to mention he is an outstanding coach."