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UTSA vs. Texas State: Preview, Prediction and Odds

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The coronavirus can’t stop the most heated active rivalry in Texas.

SMU v Texas State Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX

Kickoff: Saturday, September 12th 2:30 p.m. CST

TV: ESPN2

Radio: San Marcos: AM 1300, 930 AM, 89.9 FM. San Antonio: Ticket 760 AM

Series Record: Roadrunners lead the series, 3-0

Last Meeting: Roadrunners won the last meeting 25-21 in 2018

Betting Line: TXST -7 1/2, O/U: 57 1/2


UTSA Preview - Jared Kalmus

Welcome to the Jeff Traylor era in San Antonio. The Roadrunners are facing several simultaneous uphill battles this week as they’re fighting Covid-19, a new playbook, and their archrival all in the same week.

Traylor seems to have his team bought into his system, but without the privilege of a spring camp and limited contact through the fall, the Roadrunners will employ a razor-thin playbook to start the season. The goal is to have UTSA playing fast without having to spend too much time thinking about, or second guessing, their assignments on the field.

While no one outside of the locker room has gotten a look at Traylor’s team yet, by all accounts both the offense and the defense should look pretty drastically different than Frank Wilson’s squads.

The offense will remain multiple, however the tempo should be much quicker, with less huddling or snaps taken under center. Expect the Roadrunners to be more aggressive on offense and get up to the line quickly, allowing explosive young athletes like Sincere McCormick and Zakhari Franklin more opportunities to break the big one.

UTSA hasn’t officially declared a starting quarterback, but Frank Harris appears to be the guy. Harris impressed with his accuracy and athleticism last year, starting in the first four games of UTSA’s 2019 season before suffering a shoulder injury.

If the offense is to look different, the defense will be nearly unrecognizable. Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix has moved the Roadrunners to a 3-4 defense, which may end up looking more like a 3-5 as former safety Dadrian Taylor has moved down into the tackle box.

Pass rush specialists Solomon Wise and DQ Henry have moved to edge linebackers, where their range and quickness should be tough for running backs and tight ends to handle. Expect both to bring pressure to Brady McBride.

Former wide receiver Tariq Woolen has also made a position change, as he’s now a giant of a starting cornerback, standing at 6’5”.

The main question for the Roadrunners’ defense will be at interior linebacker. UTSA had very little talent at the position last season so the returners and transfers will need to show an ability to stuff the run if UTSA is to win ball games this fall.

Texas State Preview - Vidal Espinoza

You couldn’t have picked a better trial by fire for a Texas State squad chocked full of newcomers than their game last week against SMU. Although the Bobcats lost 31-24, it was by far the most impressive performance of last weekend’s games, given the Bobcats’ woes from the past few years. One of those new players was Memphis transfer and Texas native, quarterback Brady McBride.

McBride, having not seen action in two years, was impressive in his Bobcat debut going 21/39 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. His elusiveness and riverboat gambler-style of throwing had commentators and fans comparing him to Johnny Manziel or Brett Favre. At times McBride tried to make magic when he really didn’t need to, but fortunately for Brady he has a head coach that knows a little about sculpting collegiate quarterbacks.

A big improvement on offense for Texas State was its run game, which had struggled in recent years. Last year for instance the Bobcats only had 74 yards on the ground on 66 carries (for a paltry 1.12 yards a carry) through three games. Last Saturday Texas State nearly had two 100-yard rushers.

Sophomore Brock Sturges tallied 95 rushing yards and a touchdown and Calvin Hill (great name for a running back) had 100 on the ground on 13 carries.

Defensively Texas State performed beyond expectation against SMU, while dealing with injuries and missing players due to Covid-issues and harboring a defensive roster not as deep as most teams.

Despite giving up 367 yards passing to Mustang quarterback Shane Buechele and 130 yards rushing to TJ McDaniel, the Bobcats forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) as well as sacking Buechele once and knocking him down multiple times.

The defensive collective got a much needed boost of confidence in playing a team that torched them last year in the 47-17 meeting in Dallas.

A standout of the game was Agent Zero himself Jarron Morris. The hard-hitting cornerback led the team in tackles with 8 and had a forced fumble.

Predictions

Jared: UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor said it best — His Roadrunners will have to be better in their first game in Traylor’s system than Spavital’s Bobcats are in their 14th game in Spav’s system. The Roadrunners probably still have a deeper roster across the board, but the mental preparation gap may be huge given the lack of spring football for the Roadrunners. UTSA’s weapons on offense will bring some big plays, but I worry about UTSA’s linebackers’ ability to contain Calvin Hill and Brock Sturges.

UTSA 27 TXST 31

Vidal: Like I said earlier the Bobcats were tested in game number one with an AAC powerhouse yet the Bobcats turned a few heads. Sure they made some mistakes but I’ll take the fearless trigger pulling of a wildcard quarterback over a passive signal caller who crumbles during blitzes.

UTSA will more than likely air it out with success against the Bobcats but the game will be determined by the trenches. With their tight ends back into the lineup look for the ‘Cats to utilize them in the running game and blocking schemes to greater effect than last Saturday. As long as Texas State can control the ball on the ground and minimize their mistakes they will taste victory.

TXST 38 UTSA 26