Texas-San Antonio tight end David Morgan understands his football team lost its opening game last week, but he is encouraged by the result.
Well, let’s just say it’s hard to be disappointed when you are part of an offense that amassed 525 yards against the nation’s 22nd-ranked team. Sure, the Roadrunners lost 42-32 at Arizona last Thursday, but they fought back from a 14-0 deficit and challenged the Wildcats until the end. Quarterback Blake Bogenschutz passed for 332 yards.
“It was a great start to the season,” Morgan said in a phone interview. “We picked up the tempo a little bit from last year and threw the ball really well.”
If they do the same way against Kansas State on Saturday at the Alamodome, perhaps that will be enough to knock off a power-conference team that received votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
K-State coach Bill Snyder knows it will be tougher to win if strong safety Dante Barnett and cornerback Danzel McDaniel remain out. Barnett missed the second half of K-State’s opener because of an injured shoulder. McDaniel did not play for unspecified reasons.
Snyder expects both of them to be on the field Saturday, but said there are no guarantees. Either way, UTSA will test K-State’s secondary.
“Being just a whisker away from victory … They were right there and Arizona is a good football team,” Snyder said. “I admire what I see on tape. They play hard and you don’t see an enormous amount of mistakes. There’s athletic ability there. They’ve done a nice job of bringing young guys into the program that certainly have capabilities.”
Morgan, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior from Marble Falls, Texas, is one of the top tight ends playing outside the power conferences. Against Arizona, he made a school-record nine receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
He can be a matchup nightmare for any defense.
“I played wide receiver in high school, so I have a pretty good grasp on how to catch the ball and beat my defender,” Morgan said. “I have a big body, but I am also pretty athletic for a big guy, I would say. That gives me a little bit of a mismatch.”
Snyder devoted much of his early research on UTSA to Morgan.
“The thing that concerns you with this time is they use him in so many different ways,” Snyder said. “ … That tight end lines up everywhere on the field so he can be wide, your No. 1 receiver, he can go to the slot as your No. 2 receiver, he can be at the tight end position, he can be in the backfield.
“That is a little bit of an issue for you. And he is an issue because he is a big guy, athletic, physical and catches the ball extremely well.”
Sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee may end up with the difficult task of covering Morgan. Or maybe that responsibility will fall to nickelback Donnie Starks.
Regardless, the goal is the same.
“The main thing you focus on is getting pressure on the quarterback,” Lee said, “because if you get pressure on the quarterback, then his eyes are going everywhere and he can’t have his eyes just on that one receiver.”
K-State’s defense is ready for the challenge. The idea of proving itself, this time on the road against a more respected opponent, motivates them.
“If you make a mistake they are bound to make a play,” Lee said. “We are ready to put our ears up and play smart.”