By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — When Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy steps on the field at the Alamodome in San Antonio for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff against the University of Texas in San Antonio, he’ll have a very familiar coach stalking the sideline opposite him.
Larry Coker, who became the first head coach for the relatively new UTSA football program after six successful seasons at Miami (Fla.), is native Oklahoman and was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State during Gundy’s playing career.
“I’ve always enjoyed Coach. I think he’s a very intelligent coach and he’s a great person with great people skills,” Gundy said. “It’s no surprise the success he’s had there in such a short time. I remember spending time with him in position meetings and as a player I enjoyed his approach with certain plays in that if they do this then we need do that and it’s pretty simple. He kept the game simple and it wasn’t very complicated, and as a player I enjoyed that part.”
Coker was equally as complimentary about Gundy.
“Mike has done a great job there. He was a very smart player and tremendously competitive,” Coker said. “He was a playmaker when there weren’t plays to be made. He was an outstanding player. He’s very confident and you can see that in their team now.
“He’s had some staff changes and they keep on progressing and getting better. They’re a talented team. They are a Top-25 team, a BCS team and are picked to win the Big 12. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”
Gundy brings an Oklahoma State squad into San Antonio that will mark the first BCS Conference opponent to visit the Roadrunners in the program’s third year of existence. But not only will it be the first BCS team to visit the Alamodome, it will mark the first BCS team UTSA has played period.
“This is the most talented team we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Coker said. “I want this to be a fun week for our players, staff and fans. It’s kind of a bowl atmosphere as far as getting a team like Oklahoma State down here.
“The fact that Oklahoma State wants to play here says a lot for our city and our fans. I want our guys to enjoy this experience. It’s all about us and all about our players. It is a big week for us.”
But Coker also conceded that there’s obviously another reason why Gundy and his coaching staff would like to visit the Alamo City — it’s yet another hot bed for recruiting in Texas.
“I think the reason is because of the locale. It is San Antonio, it is the Alamodome and it is recruiting,” the UTSA coach said. “They do a great job at recruiting Texas and I think they want to continue that. I don’t think that our relationship has anything to do with it.”
As for when the two teams step onto the field, the Roadrunners are looking to use their momentum from the season opener — in which they went 99 yards for a game-clinching drive at New Mexico — to possibly pull what would be the great upset in the program’s short existence.
“The really good teams I’ve been around have been able to run the football, and we’re going to be able to do that. They’re very big and physical up front,” Coker said. “We’re going to challenge our offensive line and running backs to establish the run.”
No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. Texas-San Antonio
Time: 11 a.m.
TV: Fox Sports 1.
Radio: KEOK, FM-102.1.
Records: OSU 1-0; UT-San Antonio 1-0.
Line: Oklahoma State by 26.
Series record: First meeting.
At stake: After defeating Mississippi State 21-3 last week in Houston, Oklahoma State plays its fourth consecutive game in the state of Texas, with victories in the prior three. The upstart UTSA program, in just its second FBS season, is coming off an inspiring comeback win at New Mexico last week, 21-13.
Key matchup: Oklahoma State’s defense, which allowed just a first quarter 40-yard field goal against Mississippi State, up against Texas-San Antonio’s offense, which gained 394 yards in its opener in New Mexico. OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, while UTSA QB Eric Soza threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns, utilizing 11 different receivers.
Notes: UTSA coach Larry Coker spent seven seasons as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator from 1983-89, including the four years that current OSU coach Mike Gundy played there. This is the first meeting between the two coaches... Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith, who gained 102 yards on 15 carries last week, has scored a rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games.