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UTSA's Coaching Staff Holds the Key to a Successful 2015 Season

With so few returning starters on the roster the coaching staff has their work cut out for them. Turning promising athletes into consistent performers could make UTSA a Conference USA dark horse.

Larry Coker's assistants will need to turn potential into production for UTSA to be competitive in 2015.
Larry Coker's assistants will need to turn potential into production for UTSA to be competitive in 2015.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

I think the UTSA coaching staff would be the first to admit to you that they have a monster task in front of them this season.

The Roadrunners return only five starters and will depend on freshmen and sophomores at crucial positions such as quarterback, left tackle, and free safety. While the task of getting these young athletes ready to compete is daunting, it should be a rewarding job.

UTSA is really stacked with young talent as the program's first two recruiting classes in Conference USA look to be full of playmakers. While experience is invaluable, almost every freshman or sophomore on the roster has the athletic potential to become better than the seniors that they are replacing. The coaching staff will play a major part in determining whether these strong recruiting classes will usher UTSA into Conference USA title contention or not.

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson will face quite a challenge in his first season with the Roadrunners. William Cavanaugh and Jordan Gray return with experience but Markuson will need to build an entire new offensive line around them.

Markuson's job got even harder after Juan Perez, likely UTSA's best lineman, went down with a shoulder injury. Perez hopes to return by the Kansas State game but in the meantime Markuson will need to get junior college transfer Austin Pratt ready to play Division I ball.

To make matters even worse, first week opponent Arizona's defensive line schemes are notoriously tough to block against. Their 3-4 formation is suited for complex blitz designs which should present a huge challenge for an inexperienced offensive line.

Safeties coach Perry Eliano has a great opportunity in shaping free safety Nate Gaines. The rangy sophomore showed great promise in his freshman campaign but will need to be disciplined and instinctive to help ease the pain of Triston Wade's graduation.

Eliano will likely enjoy coaching former quarterback Austin Robinson. Robinson has all of the physical traits one could hope for in a safety but Eliano will need to teach him all of the intricacies of the position-- how to read a quarterback's eyes, how to anticipate routes, proper open field tackling, etc. The quicker Eliano can get Robinson on the field the better. Behind senior Mauricio Sanchez waits just walk on Duke Wheeler.

Lastly, defensive line coach Eric Roark will need to develop depth along his defensive line. Roark has excelled in the past before with less talented athletes so it will be fun to watch how he mends guys on the current roster into competitors.

True freshman Josiah Tauaefa looked ready to handle duty at defensive end in UTSA's open practice while Baylen Baker and TJ King were promising surprises on the interior. In a recent interview Roark expressed his belief that they hit homeruns on each defensive lineman signing in the 2015 class. That is very welcomed news as UTSA sorely lacks in experienced upperclassmen on the defensive line.

While the players hold autonomy in deciding just how good they can become, the coaching staff will play a huge role in determining whether the Roadrunners' success on the recruiting trail will translate into a new era of triumph or squandered potential.