Roadrunners living up to nickname with frenetic offense
Only one team in major college football ran more plays last week than UTSA.
Nobody allowed fewer points than Kansas State.
Should make for an interesting matchup when the aptly named Roadrunners, in just their fifth season of existence, welcome the Wildcats for a rare, high-profile home game in San Antonio on Saturday.
''There's going to be a tremendous change between last week and this week in the speed of the game,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder acknowledged. ''Their offense is a tempo-oriented offense, like we have in our conference, so they're not going to huddle up. That, along with the speed they present from a personnel standpoint, will be far different.''
That speed nearly allowed UTSA to spring a Week 1 upset. The Roadrunners trailed No. 22 Arizona 21-20 at halftime, and if not for an interception and fumble that were returned for scores, they may have been able to turn back the Wildcats.
They wound up running 95 plays in a 42-32 loss.
Still, it was another sign of progress for Larry Coker's program, which went 4-8 last season in its first being fully bowl-eligible. The Roadrunners finally have upper-classmen in the program who were recruited in its infancy, and their upgraded talent combined with some experience have instilled in them a belief that they can hang with college football's heavyweights.
That would include the Wildcats, who Snyder has led to bowl games the past five seasons.
''His style of coaching, the players he recruits - I don't know if he has all five-star recruits on that team. I don't think he does. But they're well-coached, they don't make mistakes and they don't beat themselves,'' Coker said. ''To me, I don't know anybody that's done a better job than what Coach Snyder's done at Kansas State. I don't know who it would be.''
The Wildcats are coming off a 34-0 victory over South Dakota, their first season-opening shutout since 1999. Along the way, they held the lower-division Coyotes to just 61 yards rushing.
''It is a big accomplishment to shut out any team,'' Kansas State linebacker Elijah Lee said. ''We have to move on, though, because the season moves on and we have another opponent.''
Here are some things to know about the Wildcats and Roadrunners:
QB SPOTLIGHT: Kansas State lost starter Jesse Ertz to a season-ending knee injury on the first series last week. Joe Hubener took over and was 9 of 18 for 147 yards and a touchdown. ''I was not expecting to go in that early,'' he said, ''but once I gathered myself, I knew I had to perform. I was the next guy in line and I knew I had to step up.'' He'll get the start against the Roadrunners, but freshman Alex Delton could also play.
QB SPOTLIGHT, PART 2: There are no quarterback questions at UTSA, where redshirt freshman Blake Bogenshutz threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona. But perhaps most impressive was the way he bounced back from a second-quarter pick-six. ''He wasn't happy with it,'' Coker said, ''but he played through it and really gave us a chance to win.''
HOME SWEET ALAMODOME: The Wildcats lost to UCLA in the Alamo Bowl after last season, a game played in UTSA's home stadium. It was their seventh consecutive defeat in indoor games. Their last win came at Minnesota in 1993 at the now-destroyed Metrodome.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kansas State returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown against South Dakota, extending their streak to a nation-leading 11 seasons of returning at least one. It was the first to start a game since the Wildcats' Justin McKinney against Florida Atlantic in 2006.
UTSA NEWCOMERS: Sure, there is finally some experience in San Antonio. But better recruiting means that the Roadrunners still started 11 freshmen and 22 newcomers in their opener. ''We have a chance to be a very good team,'' Coker said, ''but it's not just going to happen.''