UTSA Roadrunners v. Lamar Cardinals: Preview & Prediction, TV & Radio
Date: Saturday, September 11, 2021
Time: 5:00 PM (CT)
Location: Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas
Radio: Ticket 760 AM
Providers: (TV) Cable/Satellite, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Fubo TV
UTSA (1-0), Conference USA. Last game: win over Illinois 37-30
Lamar (1-0), Western Athletic Conference. Last game: win over North American 47-3
First meeting of the series (0-0)
UTSA is coming off an incredible road win last Saturday against Big Ten opponent Illinois. Since then, many fans have taken to social media and other forums to debate where the win ranks in UTSA’s short history. But two things are clear: (1) beating Illinois is easily a top 5 win and arguably the most complete game UTSA has ever played, and (2) Jeff Traylor has built a team that can, and will, compete for the Conference USA title this year.
The Roadrunners return home to the Alamodome for Game 2 and will face off against the Lamar University Cardinals. The teams have never met before on the gridiron, but the two schools were conference rivals back when UTSA was a member of the Southland Conference. The Cardinals come to San Antonio fresh off a win against North American University (“NAU”) and will be looking to deflate some of the hype surrounding UTSA.
Against Illinois, the Roadrunners racked up an impressive 497 yards of total offense, went 9 for 17 on 3rd down, and committed only three penalties. UTSA should be able to produce similar numbers against Lamar. The Cardinals do not pose the same threat that Illinois did; in fact, this game should offer UTSA the opportunity to rest their starters and allow some of the younger players to see some game-time action.
Expect running backs Sincere McCormick and Brendan Brady to continue as the one-two punch for UTSA’s offense. McCormick hasn’t found the endzone yet but that will almost certainly change. He is still the lead back and churns out yards no matter what a defense does, and it is only a matter of time before he scores.
Quarterback Frank Harris should be able to duplicate his performance against Illinois. He managed the game extremely well and added 280 yards to his career stats. Harris arrived at UTSA with a great deal of fanfare, but injuries have plagued him for the past 3 years. When he is healthy, he has been the best quarterback on UTSA’s team. Harris will likely see action for the first half with the hope that he can rest in the second. It would also give Josh Adkins a chance to test his arm after a shoulder injury last year, and possibly give freshman Eddie Lee Marburger a chance to show the Roadrunner faithful why he was so highly coveted.
One thing to watch for will be the return of Ahofitu Maka and Makai Hart on the offensive line. Both went down early against Illinois, and both are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game. Thankfully the line rotated around without compromising UTSA’s offense, but it will be good to see if Maka and Hart’s injuries have healed.
On defense, UTSA will have the best chance in a long time to record its first shutout in program history. UTSA failed to capture an interception against Illinois despite multiple opportunities. That should hopefully change against Lamar. The defense should be able to keep Lamar’s offense quiet, but it will be the big plays that will make a shutout possible. For players to watch, look for safety Rashad Wisdom, linebacker Trevor Harmanson, and cornerback Tariq Woolen to make those plays.
One issue UTSA had against Illinois was special teams. Despite a perfect kicking night, at times the Roadrunners could not punt or field the ball well. The Alamodome should help but if the mistakes continue to linger then UTSA will find itself in difficult situations for the rest of the season.
Lamar restarted their football program in 2010 and originally played in the Southland Conference, an FCS division. They have since transferred to the newly revived WAC but still play at the FCS level.
In their first game of the 2020 season, Lamar beat NAU 47-3 and racked up 437 yards of total offense in the process. It was a good win on paper, but NAU is an NAIA football team and was playing only their second season ever. In fact, NAU is so new to football that ESPN gifted us this glorious moment:
#WAC football is back! Highly anticipated match up with ⚪LOGO⚪ pic.twitter.com/Ty2X5nkCBD— Jared Kalmus (@JaredUTSA) September 3, 2021
Against UTSA, Lamar will probably find itself in the same position as NAU.
Lamar went 2-4 in conference play last year, while head coach Blane Morgan is in his second year with the Cardinals. The previous coach’s departure caused a decent number of players to leave and Morgan has had to work to rebuild the program. The result is a young and underclassman-heavy team that is still working to find its identity. Against a senior-laden and experienced team like UTSA, that usually spells trouble.
Lamar is led by quarterback Jalen Drummett, who had 124 yards and 2 TDs last week against NAU. Players to watch will be wide receiver James Jones and running backs Chaz Ward and Jaylon Jackson. Jackson did not play in Lamar’s season opener and he is questionable against UTSA.
I would expect UTSA to start strong. It is the first home game of the season, the Roadrunners are coming off an inspiring win, and will be playing in front of what should be an equally inspired home crowd. It's possible UTSA overlooks Lamar early and allows the Cardinals to make the early game competitive. But the talent should overcome Lamar even if UTSA plays imperfect ball, and by the second half, UTSA should have a lead large enough to afford its reserves some quality playing time.
Final Score: UTSA 48, Lamar 10