Date: Saturday, September 24, 2022
Time: 2:30 PM (CT)
Location: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
TV: Stadium (KMYSDT 35.3 in San Antonio)
Radio: Ticket 760 AM
UTSA (1-2), Conference USA. Last game: loss to No. 21 Texas, 41-20
Texas Southern (1-2), Southwestern Athletic Conference. Last game: win over Southern University, 24-0
First meeting of the series (0-0)
UTSA returns home for the final out of conference game after splitting a two game road series against Army and No. 21 Texas. The Roadrunners are 1-2 on the year and while the record may not look impressive, it is hard not to be optimistic heading into conference play. After a near-upset over No. 24 Houston and giving a solid scare to the Longhorns in Austin, the Roadrunners have demonstrated that last year’s sucess was not a fluke. Now, UTSA will have an opportunity against FCS opponent Texas Southern to tweak its lineup as the team deals with injuries suffered during the first three weeks.
Speaking of injuries, they have really begun to pile up for the Roadrunners. Senior offensive linemen Makai Hart and Ernesto Almaraz are out with extended injuries, forcing walk-on redshirt sophomore Frankie Martinez to start at right tackle, while transfer running back Trelon Smith remains out after suffering an injury against Army. And defensively, seniors Brendan Matterson and Dadrian Taylor and juniors Demetris Allen and Joe Evans are out with injuries.
Losing so many upperclassmen to injury would have been a significant problem for UTSA in the past. While the injuries still matter and will be critical to UTSA’s success in conference play later this season, the depth that Jeff Traylor cultivated has helped the Roadrunners weather the storm and should keep UTSA competitive all year. That is thanks to the elite play of the rest of UTSA’s skill positions. Quarterback Frank Harris remains electric while the receiving trio of Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus, and DJ Clark continue to expose opposing secondaries. Meanwhile, Frankie Martinez, although just a sophomore, has done his best to shore up the offensive line, playing the bulk of the snaps last week against Texas. So long as the skill positions and backups can remain on the field UTSA will have a good chance of winning every game remaining on their schedule.
But the Roadrunners will need to be careful not to sleepwalk against Texas Southern. Although it is an FCS program, the Tigers have shown themselves capable of scoring points, even against higher competition. The team put up 27 points against Conference USA opponent North Texas—17 of which came in the first half—and shut down Southern University’s offense entirely while scoring another 20+ points on offense.
The reason: sophomore quarterback Andrew Body. Body has passed for over 450 yards, thrown 3 touchdowns, and completes almost 62% of his passes. He is capable of extending drives on his feet as well and can scramble 10+ yards if the pocket collapses. If UTSA allows Body to get into rhythm the Tigers will not make this game easy, especially if wide receiver Derek Morton gets open. Morton has only caught 11 passes in 3 games, but he averages 18 yards per catch when he does. Should UTSA’s secondary slip up, which was a problem last season, Body and Morton will make them pay.
However, the Tigers are vulnerable defensively. They give up an average of 25 point and 350 yards per game and conceded 59 points and over 600 yards to North Texas on the road. UTSA has the weapons to score against anyone and should be able to score fairly often against the Tigers if the Roadrunners do not commit their own mistakes.
Traylor’s motto last year was “Don’t Eat the Cheese” and while UTSA was able to forgo that indulgence last year, this game will be the first test of this season to see whether the Roadrunners can duplicate that motto.
UTSA has the talent and experience to overcome FCS competition with relative ease. The Roadrunners are favored by over 40 points in this game for a reason. That said, injuries and self-inflicted wounds can keep Texas Southern competitive, and sometimes that is all a team needs to overcome a talent deficiency. Nevertheless, the Roadrunners should be able to overcome that pitfall. I believe UTSA will come out strong and while Texas Southern will likely score, the Tigers will not be able to keep up with UTSA’s offense for all four quarters of play.
UTSA 32, Texas Southern 14