UTSA started strong and fast, real fast. They were on the board in 81 seconds, fast.
Eric Banks forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and Andrew Martel made the recovery to give the Roadrunners possession on the 6-yard line.
Everyone's big question was finally answered as we saw Dalton Sturm trot onto the field as the starting quarterback. He hooked up with Marquez McNair, the Hinds (MS) transfer, on third down for the score.
Sturm was poised in the pocket as he ripped through Alabama's defense through the entire game for 326 total yards. His natural ability as a playmaker showed a head-and-shoulders lead over graduate transfer Jared Johnson for the starting quarterback position. His sole mistake of the day came on a risky pass to the endzone that was picked off by Ronnie Scott. His gutsy play is one his best attributes but can also lead to these types of plays.
Johnson was unable to make much of anything happen as he made soft and inaccurate throws and poor decisions as the quarterback drama started early and seemed to end just as quick. The most telling difference between the two, however, was his inability to react to and escape pressure. Anytime the backfield began to collapse he would freeze up and go down. It appears that the attributes Sturm has over Johnson are the kinds of things that can't be taught.
The defense was rather terrible to start the game. Alabama State's Khalid Thomas ran all over the place on the Hornets' second drive. They took the ball 77 yards over six minutes to gain a 7-6 lead over UTSA. The scariest part of that drive was UTSA's defensive line getting beat upfront and the inability to stop the run. We saw a lot of missed tackles there as well.
The defense would adjust and finish the game with six sacks. Redshirt freshman Josiah Tauefa led the way with 13 tackles and looked supreme as he was all over the ball. The real x-factor, in my opinion, was LSU transfer Ronnie Feist. His hits were so hard the fans could feel them throughout Alamodome. He finished with six tackles on the day.
Jarveon Williams had a less-than-stellar performance as he was unable to get the ball moving and fumbled on UTSA's second drive of the game; he finished with just 29 yards.
After that we saw Jalen Rhodes enter the game to stay. The sophomore displayed brilliant cutting ability and speed as he racked up 78 yards on 16 attempts (4.9 avg) and a touchdown.
Coach Wilson confirmed after the game that Williams suffered an ankle sprain and began treatment immediately, per Tim Griffin of San Antonio-Express News.
The most exciting run of the day came from none other than Dalton Sturm. On a broken play he scrambled out the backfield and made a cut through the line of scrimmage, he then got a great block and opened the throttle to stride 51 yards to the endzone.
Second best run of the day: Coach Wilson sprinting 40 yards down the sideline to call a timeout before the PAT.
Another great display from Sturm came on back-to-back plays. He connected with McNair for 44 yards but had the play called back on a questionable pass interference penalty. On the following snap, he hit Shaq Williams for 51 yards to get inside the redzone and setup the third score of the game.
Williams looked great as he's poised to replace David Morgan at the tight end spot; he led receivers with three catches for 63 yards. McNair had good moments and bad moments. Bad drops and an ill-advised dive that caused a fumble can be written off as first game woes this time around, but Sturm continuously looked towards him as a first target. He had a great catch for 37 yards in the opening drive of third quarter and finished the day with 49 yards and a touchdown.
Sturm connected with Kerry Thomas on 25 yards for the fourth touchdown of the game. Can't say enough about how great this quarterback looks.
The defense went to sleep in the last five minutes of the game and allowed a 36-yard touchdown pass from Quinterris Toppings to Palmer Graham in garbage time. The final score was 26-13 after UTSA kicker Daniel Portillo missed not one, but TWO, extra points. Extra points. He missed two of them.
Early excitement caused a few undisciplined errors that kept UTSA from scoring as many points as they should have. Sturm is leaps and bounds ahead of Johnson to be the starting quarterback, and it's not even close. Jarveon Williams has some rust to shake off, but Jalen Rhodes will be one hell of a successor. The defensive is strong in the back, but could use a little more discipline upfront. One thing is certain: there is a whole lot of energy. And, the Roadrunners need a kicker.