On paper, the last four weeks of UTSA's second football season could be compared with a ship listing badly during a storm at sea.
The Roadrunners have taken in water and been knocked around during a four-game losing streak against the toughest competition they've faced in their brief history.
But although UTSA has been outscored 185-82 during its skid, nobody is talking about jumping ship.
On the contrary, the Roadrunners have demonstrated a resilience that has buoyed the spirits of
everybody associated with their fledgling program.
Nationally ranked Louisiana Tech beat UTSA 51-27 in a WAC game Saturday, but the Roadrunners trailed by only 10 points with 11:50 left. Although the Bulldogs went on to score two touchdowns after leading 37-27, the rout that was expected never materialized.
"I'm really proud of our team," UTSA coach Larry Coker said Monday at his weekly session with the media. "We gave great effort and the guys weren't intimidated. We are making progress toward where we want to be, and that's a good thing.
"Our goal was to go into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win, and we did that. We had trouble stopping them, but they had trouble stopping us, too. We did some nice things, but we have to take that next step."
Louisiana Tech was No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the BCS rankings heading into its homecoming game against the Roadrunners. The Bulldogs, 8-1 overall and 3-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, are tied with Utah State atop the league standings.
UTSA hosts McNeese State on Saturday
"We are playing at a different level now, and you can see that in some of the teams we have played this season," Coker said. "I'm really pleased that we are making steps to play at that level.
"Sometimes you look at the score and maybe it doesn't look that way. But if you watch us, you know it is moving in the right direction."
UTSA (5-4, 1-3) plays McNeese State in a nonconference game at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. The Cowboys beat the Roadrunners 24-21 last year in Lake Charles, La.
McNeese, 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the Southland Conference, competes in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.
UTSA is making the transition this season to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A, and will move to Conference USA next year.
Louisiana Tech piled up 537 yards against the Roadrunners, but yielded 438 yards to a UTSA offense bolstered by the return of quarterback Eric Soza. Back in the lineup after missing the
Roadrunners' previous two games with a hip injury, Soza completed 23 of 41 passes for 314 yards and four TDs.
"Eric Soza coming back at quarterback was a huge lift for us," Coker said. "He played a heck of a game."
Soza, who completed passes to 13 different receivers, threw two TD strikes to tight end Cole Hubble and one each to Cole Hicks and Earon Holmes. Hubble's scoring receptions tied the score at 7 and 14.
"It was nice to see Cole Hubble step up," Coker said. "He's had some injuries in the past, but he's a tough kid who loves to play the game. He made some big plays early for us."
Roadrunners play two of last three games at Alamodome
UTSA also rushed for 124 yards after gaining only 58 in a 48-17 loss to Utah State the previous week. David Glasco II led the ground game with 63 yards.
"I was pleased with that and the other thing that was really encouraging was that our offensive line was outstanding," Coker said. "They did a great job in pass protection. They really were physical. I was very proud of them. Of course, David Glasco continues to be a force. He's making a lot of positive runs for us."
The Roadrunners already have won one more game than they did in their inaugural campaign, when they finished 4-6, and, based on how tough they played Louisiana Tech, still have a realistic shot at a winning season.
After hosting McNeese, UTSA plays at Idaho Nov. 17 and ends the season against rival Texas State on Nov. 24 at the Alamodome.
"We just have to worry about trying to win against a good McNeese State team this Saturday," Coker said. "If we win Saturday, we'll press on and focus on Idaho. But the thing is, it's not about who we're playing. It's about us and how we're playing."
Coker said he has been heartened by the Roadrunners' attitude while they've faced adversity.
"We are pressing on toward that next step," he said. "It's a three-game season now and we have an opportunity to have a winning season, but we have to get back on track."
One thing Coker isn't worried about is his players jumping ship.
"There are a couple of ways that you quit," he said. "One is you give your uniform to the equipment manager. The other way is you still have your uniform on, but you don't have it in your head and in your heart. That's the worst way to quit.
"These guys are from Texas. I don't know what it is, but that's now what they do. They don't quit."