EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 10th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.
Checking them out
Of the six newcomers to Conference USA this football season, the University of San Antonio may be the most interesting. The third-year program brings one of America's coolest nicknames (beep, beep, the Roadrunners) and play in the Alamodome, where they will host Oklahoma State and Houston in September.
Throw in Larry Coker as coach and an average two-season home attendance of 32,373 in a city hosting no other college or pro team and you have a potentially dangerous program. But after a mid-pack showing in the Western Athletic Conference, how will this team fare in its new league?
For one thing, the Roadrunners face their first schedule of all FBS teams. That's just a year removed from taking on Texas A&M-Commerce and Northwest Oklahoma State and two years from playing McMurry and Bacone.
Athlon Sports, for an example, sees a 1-11 year, declaring that "the offense must continue to thrive and the defense must do a better job limiting big plays." The Roadrunners have only 10 seniors listed, so some growing up is in order.
Running the offense is one of many charter members of the program, quarterback Eric Soza. A transfer from Texas State, he threw for 2,085 yards and 20 TDs with just three interceptions. Wide receiver Brandon Freeman is back atop the "X" depth chart, and Kam Jones (23-323, 1 TD) and Marcellus Hack (19-174, 1 TD) are third-year receivers.
Also back for their third seasons are tailbacks David Glasco II (537 yards, five TDs) and Evans Okotcha (450 rush yards, 24-329 receiving, 11 TDs combined), as well as 5-foot-11, 250-pound H-back Nate Shaw. The offensive line has logged 83 starts on the two-deep, with the guards and centers in their third year.
Defensively, free safety Triston Wade (74 tackles, four interceptions), strong safety Nic Johnston (73 tackles, five for loss) and outside linebacker Steven Kurfehls are the veterans, along with cornerback Darrien Starling. They yielded only 379.8 yards per game and forced 29 turnovers last year, but again, the schedule ratchets up this time around.
Kicker Sean Ianno started the 2012 season with a 51-yard game-winning field goal against South Alabama and was a solid 10 of 13. Kenny Harrison is a dangerous kick returner.