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UTSA seeks to ground Southern Utah QB
Like a linebacker refusing to bite on play-action, Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb paid no heed to multiple variations of the same question.
Blessed with arguably the best quarterback in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision, surely Lamb has to be drooling for the chance to unleash him on a UTSA secondary that was shredded for 372 yards last week by a Division III team.
The closest Lamb came was acknowledging the matchup looked good on paper for his Thunderbirds, who play host to UTSA at 7 p.m. Saturday. He then scurried back into safe territory.
“I know the question,” he said. “As a fan, I’d probably be pretty excited about having a great passing attack going against a secondary that’s been scorched a little bit.
“But as a coach, I have to assume we’re going to get the best effort they have. If they do that, they’re going to keep us in front of them and make us execute.”
That will be the plan, at least. Pulling it off promises to be an entirely different matter.
Facing their latest challenge in Year 1, the youthful Roadrunners will make their first road trip to face a veteran team led by the strong-armed Brad Sorensen.
The California native was named to the preseason watch list for the Payton Award, the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy, after passing for a school-record 3,163 yards last season.
He’s on pace to break that mark, with 611 yards through Southern Utah’s first two games. Sorenson, a junior, completed 30 of 37 passes for 271 yards last week as the Thunderbirds upset then-ranked Sacramento State 35-14.
“He’s made one mistake in two games,” Roadrunners defensive coordinator Neal Neathery said. “That’s pretty good.”
In an era where mobile quarterbacks are all the rage, the 6-foot-5 Sorensen is a throwback to the days of big, strong-armed pocket passers. He’s been a perfect fit with the Thunderbirds since his transfer from BYU, where he spent one season as an anonymous walk-on.
“Some guys get lost in the shuffle, and that’s what happened to Brad,” Lamb said.
“As soon as we got him, we knew we had something special.”
UTSA coach Larry Coker is every bit as impressed, saying there’s “no question” Sorensen has NFL potential.
“He’ll go to camp and have a great chance to make a team,” he said.
UTSA has already faced one gifted quarterback this season, and the results were not good.
Despite being sacked four times by Marlon Smith, McMurry’s Jake Mullin completed 29 of 45 passes for 372 yards, including the game-winning TD with 19 seconds left.
The victim on that play, freshman safety Mauricio Sanchez, said he and his secondary mates have tried to learn from their mistakes in a game in which the Roadrunners yielded eight completions of at least 15 yards, several of which came on key third and fourth downs.
“My mindset,” Sanchez said, “is to never let it happen again.”
NOTEBOOK: Coker was in a sling Wednesday following surgery on Tuesday to repair a detached ligament in his right elbow. Coker said he suffered the injury last week while reaching for a loose ball in practice. “It’s really common in bench pressing and power cleans, so I did it (lifting weights),” he said. “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.” … Though he hasn’t been cleared for full contact, wide receiver Earon Holmes returned to practice after a lengthy layoff with an undisclosed shoulder injury. “He looks fine,” Coker said. “You can tell he’s going to be a factor.” … Neathery said UTSA practiced well for the second straight day. “It’s been a real good week,” he said. “We went to work.”
By Dan McCarney, San Antonio Express-News