You may not know it, but former UTSA quarterback and program ambassador extraordinaire Eric Soza is somewhat of a celebrity in San Antonio. An intelligent young man with humility and charisma, it didn't take long for Eric to become the face of UTSA. His recognition grew with each advertisement and interview, leading to the No. 8 jersey becoming a top seller in San Antonio throughout his three-year career as a Roadrunner. On Friday UTSA fans will get another look at the accomplished former Roadrunner but this time he won't be sporting blue and orange. After exhausting his eligibility, Eric accepted an offensive quality control position at Houston where he will reunite with former UTSA offensive coordinator Travis Bush. With Soza having moved on, UTSA will seek to fill his absence with 6-foot-3 redshirt senior Tucker Carter.
Tucker inherits a program and offense with Soza's fingerprints all over it. It is widely believed that UTSA's preference for shallow, one-cut passing routes derives from Soza's inability to strike on deep balls. Eric's strong leadership and maturity helped guide a start up full of kids into a program loaded with experience and high-character individuals. The receiving core has caught thousands of balls thrown from Soza. Center Nate Leonard probably hears Soza's snap cadence in his sleep. The success of UTSA football, both in 2014 and beyond, depends upon Carter and future quarterbacks overwriting the short but meaningful legacy that Soza left behind.
The contrast between Carter and Ericis fascinating. Both are coaches' sons, but there are notable differences in their upbringing, personality, and play style. Soza hails from a small, blue-collar South Texas town where sun-kissed windmills and huisache shrubs dot a flat horizon. Carter comes to UTSA from Allen, Texas, a mega-suburb of Dallas where two-story brick homes sprawl for miles. You probably know of Allen and their $60 million dollar high school football stadium. The resources made available to Allen athletes are numerous and abundant, a far cry from Beeville, where the metal benches of the football stadium give way to ranch land. Where Soza was a four-year starter and all-district selection in Beeville, Carter didn't start a single game in high school until TCU signee Matt Brown was injured in the playoffs in 2008. After Brown successfully rehabilitated, he would return to start for Allen in 2009, forcing Carter to toil away in the JUCO ranks to gain notice from college recruiters.
Soza could certainly be perceived as modest and soft-spoken, quite a difference from Carter who was described as having "built-in swag" by left guard Scott Inskeep. Nimble and savvy, Soza was adept at extending plays creatively and unexpectedly, whether by scrambling around the pocket or by flicking shovel passes to unexpecting receivers. With a strong arm and the confidence to push the ball vertically, Carter will seek to create instant offense through the air.
There's no doubt that Carter's every inevitable misstep will be highly criticized by UTSA fans as the first QB1 of the PES (Post Eric Soza) era. While Carter's goal is the same as any starting quarterback, the odds that he takes a very different route from his predecessor in pursuit of that goal are high. Allowing Tucker to succeed by embracing his differences from Soza should be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff. Maybe all this offense is missing is a little "built-in swag" under center.