UTSA quarterback Eric Soza, third in C-USA behind East Carolina's Shane Carden and Marshall's Rakeem Cato in passing yards per game (268.4), agreed that the school's strategy paid off.
"I think each year ... that first year, the schedule was perfect for us," he said. "There were a couple of tough teams on the schedule, but it was mostly FCS teams. Last year it was a WAC schedule and there are some quality opponents there. I think that's the position we needed to be in.
"Seeing success at that level, we were able to prepare ourselves in the offseason, knowing this season was going to be the toughest schedule we've ever had," Soza continued.
Soza is right about the schedule, which includes Oklahoma State, Arizona and Houston as non-conference opponents. The Roadrunners fell to those three, but did beat New Mexico and then the University of Texas at El Paso for their first C-USA win. That gave UTSA an early indication that it could compete in its new conference.
"I think it was a confidence-builder for sure," Coker said of the UTEP win. "You know how confidence is, you have to keep rebuilding it. I think our confidence level is good. I think there are some things we certainly have to get corrected. I think we have to play better to have a chance to get a fine team like Marshall."
The Roadrunners know Saturday will be a step up in conference competition. Plus, no team from Texas has won at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in nine tries. But Soza said UTSA is excited for the opportunity. The team's excited for every opportunity, he said, considering the support the Roadrunners have received from the city of San Antonio. The team's average home attendance of 36,732 is behind only East Carolina on the C-USA list.
"How many people can say they've started a program?" Soza asked. "Just going out and being able to play the game you love, a game we've been playing since we were 6 or 7 years old and now being able to play at the Conference USA level, it's just a blessing. "
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.