This time last year, the UTSA Roadrunners football team was preparing to follow up on a very exciting 2013 season in their first year playing in Conference USA. They finished their 2013 campaign with a 7-5 record and a second place spot in the West division. However, following a tough schedule and multiple injuries, the Runners finished last season at 4-8, losing four of their last six games.

Despite the disappointing end to last year’s season, the Roadunners remain optimistic and have plenty to look forward to as they begin their fourth season in program history.

“We lost a lot of great players, but they did a great job of teaching us how to lead,” explained senior cornerback Bennett Okotcha. “I feel like our young guys have come a long way since the summer, and our defense is getting better every day.”

With UTSA’s offense running a new up-tempo scheme, the defense gets plenty of opportunities to get better during practice.

“Our defense is going to be in great condition because of (the fast paced offense),” says Coker. “It helps us prepare because we’re definitely going to be seeing a lot of that this season.”

The first up-tempo offense the Roadrunners will face this year will be against the 22nd ranked team in the nation – the Arizona Wildcats. UTSA had Arizona on the ropes last year before losing a 26-23 heartbreaker in front of a crowd of over 33,000 fans at the Alamodome. The same Wildcats went on to play in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, as part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Although the Roadunners played extremely well against the Wildcats last season, they aren’t taking this year’s contest any lighter.

“Just because we were so close last year, doesn’t mean we’re going to be that close this year,” explained Okotcha. “We have a completely different team, different players and different personnel.”

Coker added: “We did some good things (against Arizona) last year and we realize Arizona is a really good team. They’re a team that managed to beat Oregon. If you can beat Oregon, you’re pretty good. But we learned from that game and I think it’ll help us not feel so intimidated by them this year.”

Although the Runners have yet to name a starting quarterback, Coker remains confident in his offense.

“If we had to play today, we have an idea of who our starter would be. There’s no real hurry to name a starter just yet,” ensures Coker. “Blake (Bogenschutz) looks good. He’ll be a great player for us and he’s setting himself up for a good year. Russell (Bellomy) is doing a nice job as well. He’s consistent and he can make plays.”

Along with the quarterbacks, Coker also has confidence in junior running back Jarveon Williams, who finished last season with three touchdowns and an average of 40.6 yards rushing per game.

“Jarveon is going to have a great year for us,” said Coker. “He’s been running the ball well and we feel great about him.”

UTSA’s non-conference schedule this season will be its toughest yet. Their first three opponents — Arizona, Kansas State and Oklahoma State — all appeared in bowl games last year and finished 2014 with a combined record of 26-14. However, the Roadrunners are up to the challenge and are looking forward to the opportunity to pull off some upsets.

“We have to start our own legacy, and it starts with Arizona,” explained Okotcha. “No shade on what the older guys and the graduates have done for us, because they paved the way. But it’s definitely a new era for us, and we’re taking pride in that.”

UTSA opens up the regular season in Glendale, Arizona on Sept. 4 against the Arizona Wildcats.

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