Game Preview: UT-San Antonio Roadrunners at New Mexico Lobos

Cooper Neill

New Mexico's season kicks off at home versus the UTSA Roadrunners of C-USA.

Teams: UT-San Antonio Roadrunners at New Mexico Lobos

WHEN: Saturday, August 31, 8 p.m. ET

WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM (39,224)

CONFERENCES: C-USA vs. MWC

2013 SEASON: UT-San Atonio (0-0) (0-0); New Mexico (0-0) (0-0)

HEAD COACHES: Larry Coker, UTSA (12-10); Bob Davie, New Mexico (4-9)

TV COVERAGE: N/A

WEB STREAMING: MWC Digital

SERIES RECORD:First meeting between the two schools

LAST MEETING: N/A

WEB SITES: GoUTSA.com | GoLobos.com

***

OVERVIEW

UT-San Antonio put in an impressive inaugural effort in the FBS last season, going 8-4 while playing a combination of WAC and FCS squads. They do have Larry Coker at head coach though, whom some might remember from his days in Miami in the early 00s. Following the hire of Bob Davie, New Mexico seemed to turn a corner last season and could be back on the upswing. Winning just one game per year from 2009 through 2011, the Lobos reached four victories in 2012. The Mountain West has gotten tougher, but there's a distinctly different feeling around the UNM program now that they're seemingly back on the upward trajectory.

KEY PLAYERS

Kasey Carrier, RB/New Mexico: Carrier had a breakout season last year, picking up 1,469 yards -- and that after amassing just 63 through the first three games. The Lobos' offense goes through the running game, and that means Carrier will once again rack up carries. If UTSA can't slow him down, it could be a very long night for the Roadrunners.

Jacori Greer, DE/New Mexico: Greer's as close to a pure pass-rusher as New Mexico has, with five sacks and eight TFLs last season. While UNM's line isn't overly big or quick, they'll be relying on Greer to lead the charge in generating pressure on opposing passers. Considering how much UTSA relies on the pass, this could be the deciding factor of the game on Saturday.

Eric Soza, QB/UTSA: You can deride the opponents if you'd like, but Soza still threw for over 2,000 yards with 20 scores and three picks last year. He's the motor that runs the offense, though admittedly, he didn't face a ton of pressure in 2012 (just 12 sacks). If he can improve his accuracy, he's got a chance to have a really special year. But I expect him to face a higher level of pressure here, which could lead to some turnovers.

Triston Wade, FS/UTSA: The Roadrunners have some ballhawks in the secondary, and Wade's the best of them all. He likes to play a bit of a centerfielder role, picking his spots and snagging balls, but overall, he's also a very tough hitter who creates turnovers for himself. New Mexico won't throw the ball much, though if they do, they should steer clear of Wade.

OUTLOOK

Now that they're playing a "real" FBS schedule, UTSA is likely to deal with some growing pains, though I'm unsure those starts with this game. The Roadrunners had one of the best rushing defenses in the country in 2012, and if given the opportunity, could try and seal up New Mexico's one-dimensional attack. If New Mexico expects to win, they'll need to figure out a way to generate pressure and make Soza rush his throws. UTSA doesn't move the ball well on the ground, so if the Lobos can get containment on the passing game (not out of the question), that should lead them to the victory. Whether they pull it out or not though, it will be a very close matchup.

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