I expected a freshman to lead UTSA to victory against Florida International. I was right, but I never would have imagined that redshirt freshman Austin Robinson would be the guy to pull it off. True freshman Blake Bogenschutz was announced as the starter under center for the Roadrunners as senior Tucker Carter continues to recover from a shoulder injury. The heralded Bogenschutz barely had a chance to get going as he was blasted continuously by FIU's defensive line before breaking his throwing hand, causing him to be removed from the game after just three series.
With QB1 and QB2 down with injury, Larry Coker handed the ball to a freshman that he had attempted to convince to convert to a wide receiver just about a week ago. The 6'3", 220 pound athlete looked fantastic after settling in following a fumble on a sack and an overthrow of a wide-open Cole Hubble on Robinson's first pass of the game. While Robinson's lack of passing accuracy has been oft-discussed, he was able to connect on 14 of 17 passing attempts with one of those incompletions being a 40 yard touchdown heave that was dropped by Brandon Armstrong.
Robinson was most impressive carrying the ball as he was able to log 65 yards rushing on 15 attempts despite a shaky showing from the offensive line. Most of Robinson's gains came from him tucking the ball after seeing the FIU defense lineup in cover two man, allowing Robinson to easily outrun FIU's middle linebacker for huge gains. Robinson was also able to pick up a few key first downs on quarterback draws and option keepers.
While Robinson certainly deserves hearty applause for stepping into an extremely tough situation and coming out with a win, the true hero of this game for UTSA was an opportunistic Roadrunner defense lead by Robert Singletary and Triston Wade. With a staggering ten tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass break up, three sacks, and an additional quarterback hurry, Baylor transfer Singletary delivered one of the most impressive individual performances UTSA has ever seen. Triston Wade racked up 11 tackles, a game-ending interception on a hail mary, and forced a fumble and recovery after accidently dislodging the ball from the FIU ball carrier with his foot from UTSA's three yard line.
Many young Roadrunners took advantage of opportunities against FIU, including center Juan Perez who stepped in for a struggling Nate Leonard and played extremely well. The 6'2", 270 pound redshirt freshman put an immediate end to UTSA's extended issues with poor snaps and gave a much-needed boost to an offensive line that has failed to provide solid pass protection for most of the season. I saw Perez record a few knock-down blocks and reach the second level to seal off linebackers. Coach Coker confirmed that Leonard was not pulled due to injury concerns so I think we'll continue to see the freshman along the offensive line this season in spite of Nate Leonard's 40 game start streak.
Michael Egwuagu continued to impress on the defensive side of the ball. While the Dawg safety/linebacker hybrid recorded just two tackles, he also came down with an interception off of a tipped pass to stop an FIU drive. Egwuagu seemed to be in correct positioning throughout the evening and prevented the Panthers from bouncing runs to the outside. Starting Dawg safety Nic Johnston returned to action against FIU but only played in one series in the red zone. If Johnston returns to full strength it will allow Chase Dahlquist to move back to his natural position at Rover safety.
UTSA's oft-maligned cornerbacks stepped up big time against an offense that likes to take shots deep downfield. Bennett Okotcha, Crosby Adams, Darrien Starling and Trevor Baker held FIU quarterback Alex McGough to just 11 pass completions on 25 attempts. While the cornerbacks had a ton of help from a relentless Roadrunner pass rush, the corners were generally in great position all night and rarely got burned. FIU only had one completion for over 20 yards-- a 43 yard fade route that was bobbled and should have been overturned after the review.
The Roadrunners did a lot of things well against FIU but there's still some improvement to be made if Larry Coker's squad wants to realize their championship potential. Mosey back over to Underdog Dynasty tomorrow to read part two of this article to read over what I feel that UTSA needs to address before traveling to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech.