The 2023 Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl kicks off Tuesday night from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX.
The bowl began operations in 2018 and this will be the sixth iteration of the annual contest, which transpires in a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. UTSA (9-3, 7-1 AAC) and Marshall (6-6, 3-5 Sun Belt) square off for the first time since they shared the CUSA together in a standalone game Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
UTSA and Marshall took the podium Monday in Frisco to discuss the upcoming game. Here are notes and storylines from the bowl’s media day:
Frank Harris’ final stand with UTSA
With every bowl game, plenty of seniors suit up one final time with a program. It’s an emotional moment for almost every single one, watching four or more years of dedication to the sport come to an official conclusion at the collegiate level.
But for one senior playing his final game Tuesday night, it won’t be an ordinary curtain call. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris is one of the few active college players that is unquestionably a program’s greatest and most iconic player of all-time. The seventh-year senior holds virtually every passing record at UTSA, and he’ll likely crack the top 50 in the all-time passing yards record.
“It hasn’t hit me much yet, but I know (Tuesday) night, win or loss, I’m gonna have some tears coming down my eyes because it’s my last time playing in a UTSA uniform,” Harris said. “I’ve been here so long and all those trophies we’ve been through — to have the success we’ve had the last couple seasons, it just means a lot. So I’m definitely gonna cherish that moment.”
The program is only in its 13th season of football, and Harris has been there for over half of the Roadrunners’ story. He led them to back-to-back Conference USA championships in 2021 and 2022, won MVP of the conference in 2022, and guided UTSA to a 7-1 conference record in its augural year in the AAC. But one thing Harris has left to do for the program is generate its coveted first bowl win. The Roadrunners are 0-3 in bowls in the past three seasons and 0-4 historically, looking to break that trend in Frisco.
“It’s everybody’s first bowl win if we win, not just mine personally,” Harris said. “Of course I want to win it, but my teammates want to win it as well. It would be the first in school history. It’s not all on me. It’s not all on my shoulders. I know all the other guys want to win as well, so we’re gonna go out as a team and try to fulfill that commitment that we set forward to when we first came to UTSA.”
Marshall play-calling duties
UTSA averaged 37.9 points per game in AAC play, demonstrating tremendous offensive excellence in the last two-thirds of the regular season. Marshall didn’t quite replicate those numbers, and the Thundering Herd racked up just 20.3 points per game in Sun Belt play. In four of the team’s final six contests, they failed to break double-digit points and suffered a shutout at the hands of South Alabama. Marshall fired offensive coordinator Clint Trickett as a result and named former Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege as the successor.
However, Doege won’t begin his role until the 2024 season. Marshall spent the past several weeks figuring out how to approach play-calling for its bowl game without an offensive coordinator. Head coach Charles Huff clarified it will be a committee approach Tuesday night at Toyota Stadium.
“We have had some changes, but the offensive play-calling will be similar to how it was on the back end of the season,” Huff said. “Who actually spits the words out — it will depend on down and distance situations. It will be a combination of myself, (tight ends coach) Derek Shay, and (offensive analyst) Chuckie Keeton all working together.”
But after several bowl practices, Marshall became comfortable with this approach. With new a play-calling system in place for one night, the Thundering Herd will likely operate under freshman quarterback Cole Pennington — who made two starts all year as well as star running back Rasheen Ali, who just completed his second 1,000-yard season with the Thundering Herd.
“The beauty of it, we’ve really had a month to work it,” Huff said. “I think a lot of the play-calling title is gonna get overemphasized a little bit. It will be really a collection of who’s really responsible for the run, who’s responsible for the pass, and putting them all together. For this game, Coach Shay will probably spit most of them out.”
The trend really gained steam during the 2019 bowl season. It’s commonplace for bowl games to deviate from the traditional Gatorade bath when celebrating the winning head coach. Food sponsors typically get the most mileage out of this, and we’ve seen coaches get doused in Cheez-Its, Duke’s Mayo, Tropical Cafe Smoothie, Frosted Flakes, and other palatable items.
The Frisco Bowl successfully pulled off the Tropical Cafe Smoothie bath when that company sponsored the game in 2019 and 2021. Last year, the Frisco Bowl went sponsorless, but for the 2023 edition, Scooter’s Coffee takes over with the naming rights. Rumors swirled around at Monday’s media day press conference that a coffee bath could be possible. Both coaches were asked about the possibility.
“I’ve never won a bowl game so I haven’t got that far ahead,” UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor said. “If we were so fortunate to do that, I’m one of those kind of guys where I like to have a little coffee with my cream. I’m not a black coffee guy. So if it goes on my bald head, preferably something sweet so I can maybe enjoy the taste.”
Meanwhile, Marshall head coach Charles Huff was accepting of a coffee bath and took it to another extreme.
“If we win — I tell all these guys all the time — I would cut my left finger off if we win every game,” Huff said. “So when we win, whether it’s coffee, whether it’s soccer balls for the soccer stadium, whether it’s Gatorade, or whether we run inside and do our traditional locker room ceremony, whatever it takes for us to win and that’s what it’s really about.”