We collaborated and will be doing a "five things we learned" so far this season for each team. Here are the five things Jared has learned from UTSA after two games. You can check mine out for Oklahoma State on their site.
1) The left side of the line is solid. The right side is.. porous
Tackle Reed Darragh and guard Kyle McKinney have been pretty stout for UTSA through the first two games, ranging from decent to downright nasty in their first two games. UTSA was able to run behind some great second-level blocking from the left side of the line during the Arizona game as the Roadrunners racked up 193 yards on the ground. While they didn't excel against Kansas State, they were able to hold their own against the Wildcats' strong defensive front.
I wish I could say the same for the right side of the line. Guard William Cavanaugh and tackle Jordan Gray were able to skate by against Arizona's lighter three-man front but the two were simply outmatched against Kansas State. Both guys straight whiffed on several blocks last week while ending up flat on their backs a couple of times when faced against a strong bull rush.
I'm writing this on Sunday night and I haven't heard whether or not Juan Perez-Isordio will return for the Roadrunners this week or not. The sophomore played very well during limited snaps last season and was set to be UTSA's starting center this season before suffering a shoulder injury. If Perez-Isordio is set to return as expected, he'll probably slide in at right tackle to replace Jordan Gray as JUCO transfer Austin Pratt has shown potential at center in Perez's place. Perez trained at right tackle this spring due to an injury to his snapping hand so he does have a certain level of comfort with the position.
2) The defense has very little depth
Boy this became awfully apparent in the fourth quarter last week as Kansas State's ground-and-pound started to wear down UTSA's defensive starters. The defensive line is probably only five deep right now. Reserve defensive tackle Kevin Strong has brought some fire off the bench but past that JUCO transfer Vontrell King-Williams is the only guy that looks to have the potential to make a serious impact.
The Roadrunners do not have a scholarship player behind Mike linebacker Drew Douglas and second string free safety Justin Chavez has only played a handful of meaningful snaps. UTSA does have some depth at cornerback but none of the guys beside former Sooner Bennett Okotcha have separated themselves from the pack.
4) Blake Bogenschutz will win this team games
Oklahoma State fans may remember Bogenschutz after he came into the game last season and led a touchdown march down the field. "Bogie" has come a long way since that drive, as he earned starting snaps later in the 2014 season before later beating out a Michigan transfer to earn the full time starting spot in 2015. Bogenschutz was awarded a medical redshirt waiver after breaking his hand against FIU last year so he's still technically a freshman this year.
The Carthage, Texas product has been extremely sharp leading the Roadrunner offense this season, setting school records for single game passing yards and total offense against Arizona in week one. Hampered by an ineffective run game and poor pass protection, Bogenschutz wasn't able to light up Kansas State to the same effect but he performed relatively admirably given the circumstance (60% passing for 156 yards, no INTs). Bogie probably won't match his Arizona production against Oklahoma State but he'll likely put UTSA in a good position to compete this week. I think he'll lead UTSA to some solid in-conference wins this season.
4.) Special teams are sloppy
Outside of a kickoff return touchdown that was called back (Maybe this proves my point actually?) UTSA's special teams have been fairly woeful. Some of that can be attributed to Arizona and Kansas State having better athletes but the mental execution has been lacking: missed blocks, penalties, fielding balls that should be left to roll, missed PATs, etc. The Roadrunners might be able to mask these errors against equally-talented programs but it puts UTSA in a hole that's tough to climb out of against Big XII competition. On the bright side, sophomore place kicker Daniel Portillo has a strong leg and nailed a 51 yarder against Kansas State. His development is key to UTSA's success this season.
5.) Throw deep to win
Two games have given me little reason to calm my fears about UTSA's inability to guard the deep ball. UTSA lost a four-year starter in Triston Wade this offseason as the hard-hitting safety signed with the Seahawks practice squad. Sophomore Nate Gaines has taken over Wade's secondary and has struggled with learning the defense. Gaines has an awfully high ceiling but he's still getting a hang for the mental side of the game. He let several Arizona receivers run free but showed a little bit of improvement against Kansas State.
UTSA's cornerbacks have also struggled against deeper routes. The Roadrunners have upgraded at the position this season but still struggle to make plays on the ball once it's released. An increase in speed at the position hasn't quite translated to better man coverage as the cornerbacks have struggled to break up passes when on an island.
Oklahoma State torched UTSA through the air last season for 518 yards. Gaines and the corners will need to show significant improvement this week in order to avoid Mason Rudolph embarrassing the UTSA secondary like Daxx Garman did last season.
There you have it, hopefully if the Cowboys take care of business, this should be a win. However, we've seen some weird offensive play from the Cowboys this season. The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. CT at Boone Pickens Stadium.