Start Time: 6:00 PM CST. Saturday, October 31.
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas
Radio: UTSA: here
Series History: UTSA leads 2-0
Live Stats: here.
Line: UTSA -8.5, O/U 56
In the spirit of the Hallowed season, we decided to list out three SCARY THINGS for both team, good or bad:
THREE SCARY UTSA FACTS
1. Skeleton Quarterback Depth
UTSA will enter this week's game with just one serviceable quarterback and that's scarier than anything you'll see in Paranormal Activity or Scream. Walk-on Dalton Sturm is all the Roadrunners have left on the roster after starter Blake Bogenschutz suffered a concussion during the UTEP game and reserves Austin Robinson and Russell Bellomy both left the program. The Roadrunners' second string quarterback has been described as "not ready to play" by Larry Coker. UTSA will need to find a way to either keep the pocket clean for Sturm or design the game plan around getting the ball off quickly in order to avoid Sturm taking another 22 hits as he did against Southern Miss. If not, UTSA's skeleton crew at quarterback may be reduced to a bag of bones.
2. Phantom Pass Rush
Generating just nine sacks and 14 quarterback hurries through seven games, UTSA has had an extremely difficult time generating a consistent pass rush despite having athletic defensive linemen such as Jason Neill, Marcus Davenport, and Kevin Strong. While UTSA's defense has been pretty solid this season, all things considered, their inability to get after quarterbacks lends itself to UTSA's failures to get off the field on third down. DeMarcus Smith is mobile in the pocket but his footwork causes him to lose accuracy while on the run. Forcing Smith to escape the pocket could lead to turnovers if UTSA's defensive line is able to step up the pressure. The pass rush should pop up when the offense wants it there the least, kind of like the chick from The Grudge. UTSA's pass rush has been more like Casper the Friendly Ghost this season.
3. Headless Pass Protection
UNT fans have to love to hear this after reading my first spooky UTSA football fact. UTSA has allowed 24 sacks this season which is a big factor in the 15 fumbles UTSA has coughed up this season. The Roadrunners have trotted out a new starting five for almost every game this year as offensive linemen rotate in and out of the trainer's room. Stakes are especially high for the offensive line with Bogenschutz unavailable. The lack of cohesion from the offensive line is turning the backfield into Sleepy Hollow as quarterbacks are harassed by defensive linemen coming off the ball so quick you'd think they were on horseback.
THREE SCARY UNT FACTS
1. Skeleton Quarterback Depth (Again!)
UTSA will enter this week's game with just one serviceable quarterback and that's scarier than anything you'll see in Paranormal Activity or Scream?
Yes, that's true, but those series were both played out by the time they got around to the inevitable desperation sequel just to keep the game doing. In the battle of cool-sounding names, Dalton Sturm firmly wins this round, but he's a virtual unknown after the star QB went down with that concussion and Coker only started him because he had to. On the Mean Green side, McNulty has underwhelmed in every game he played in, but thank goodness for backup Damarcus Smith, who... uh, has even more attempts, but has about the same number of completions, yet somehow has twice as many touchdowns and a 100.6 QB rating. This week, we don't know WHAT's going to happen. UNT could throw for 500 yards or give us the worst collapse of the year. This team is "Paranormal Activity: Ghost Protocol" or whatever the latest sequel is. It's Blair Witch 3. Scream 5. Those playcalls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE.
2. Ectoplasmic Defense
At this point in the season, North Texas has given up more points than any other team in the conference (331 in seven games), and the same holds true if you just look at conference games (172 in four games). This is miles away from their nearest competitor and yet Chris Cosh somehow kept his job even as McCarney was shown the door. UTSA has played one less conference game, but given up a HUNDRED fewer points in CUSA. In week two of the season, giving up 31 to SMU meant something a lot different than it does now that we're in week eight. The offense had a moderate surge with the addition of Canales as play-caller and Smith as the guy running the plays, but the defense is exactly the same as the team who gave up 66 at homecoming. This defense is the "Saw" franchise. Just when you think it can't possibly get any more horrifying.........
3. A Possessed Carlos Harris
It's not uncommon for UNT opponents to lead them in every statistical category, particularly against Iowa but also against Rice. But for the WKU and Marshall games, one UNT player stood above every guy on the field-- Carlos Harris. Yes, receiver Jeffrey Wilson is having an incredible year, but Harris was the best player on either side of the ball, for each of the last two weeks. He has 42 receptions for 522 yards (quadrupling the next guy on the depth chart), including a 93-yard touchdown run last week. WKU couldn't stop this guy, and just answered by scoring more points with the entire rest of the team. UTSA can only stop and watch as Jason Vorhees approaches, headed toward the endzone.
Jared: UTSA is the better team on paper but I don't think that matters much in a rain-slushed rivalry game that features two teams that combine for one victory this season. This game is simply going to come down to motivation and I think a winless UNT program under an interim coach is going to have a hell of a lot more of it. The Mean Green have to pull off a win over UTSA at some point in the budding rivalry and I'm sure the players know that this year is their best bet. Canales has his guys improving each week while the Roadrunners seem to get a little bit worse and a little bit more injury-stricken after each quarter. It hurts and it's a bit shocking to say it but...
UTSA 18 UNT 21
Adam: UTSA is indeed the better team on paper but UNT is the more hungry of the two, desperate for that first (and possibly only) win of the season, while a busted up starting line and busted season has already defeated the Roadrunners spirit. A few weeks back we commented about how UTSA must not think much of UNT, they don't really have a rival whilst it was UTSA that blew the Mean Green's chance at a conference championship back in 2013. Who could have predicted these two teams battling it out for the basement, this camraderie of embarrassment, would help kickstart a rivalry that could last until we're all dead and buried? North Texas has been figuring out their offense, and despite the line, this is still the worst team they've played since their opening weekend against SMU. It will be close, and it will be ugly, and also our kicker has been having a good couple of weeks.
UNT 24, UTSA 21