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UTSA looks to establish a pulse against Marshall

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The Thundering Herd will fight for a share of first place in their division on Senior Day.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Southern Mississippi Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, November 17th

Kickoff Time: 1:30 pm CST

Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Stadium: Joan C. Edwards Stadium

TV: N/A

Streaming: Stadium on Facebook

Audio: Ticket 760 (SA) or TuneIn (Huntington)

Series Record: 1-1

Last Meeting: UTSA won last year’s meeting 9-7.

Betting Line: Marshall -27

Over/Under: 44.5 points


UTSA Roadrunners Outlook

After losing a very strong group of seniors over the offseason, the Roadrunners were set up for a challenging season. With a young, talented group of highly rated recruits joining the program, it seemed likely the team would struggle in the early going before starting to hit its stride as the youngsters gained experience.

Rather than show steady improvement, the exact opposite has happened and UTSA has cratered. With the second worst offense in college football, the Roadrunners have been outscored 155-30 over the span of their current four game losing streak.

Perhaps the primary factor in that scoring deficit has been UTSA’s failure to find stability at the quarterback position. Last week’s game against FIU further muddied the waters. True freshman Jojo Weeks was benched, perhaps to preserve his redshirt eligibility, in place for graduate transfer DJ Gillins. After a rough outing, Gillins suffered a season-ending injury late in the contest.

In a strange twist, sophomore Bryce Rivers got his first game action of the season following the injury to Gillins. Given that it is widely assumed that Rivers will be pursuing a transfer to another program in the offseason, it was ironic to watch him throw UTSA’s best touchdown pass of the season in his lone dropback of the season.

So who will start at quarterback this week? Rivers, who has thrown one pass this season? Weeks, who was one game left to play before he loses his redshirt eligibility? Cordale Grundy, who suffered a nasty lower body hit against UAB? Your guess is as good as mine.

Marshall Thundering Herd Outlook

NCAA Football: Marshall at Southern Mississippi
Malik Gant pops a Southern Miss running back.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

While Marshall didn’t quite capture Conference USA this season like I expected it to, a share for first place in the eastern division is still in play for Doc Holliday and his team. Marshall has proven to be a tough competitor in all of its contests this season, as its biggest margin of loss was 17 points to North Carolina State.

Marshall has been led by its defense this year, as standouts such as Ryan Bee, Malik Gant and Chase Hancock have truly impressed. Bee missed the first two games due to injury, but the redshirt senior has regained his stride down the stretch of the season. Bee’s length should give UTSA’s offensive line fits whether he lines up on the edge or in the interior of the line.

Even with UTSA struggling to put points on the board, Doc Holliday isn’t expecting the UTSA offense to go down without a fight.

“They have some talented guys. You turn on that tape and, I know you guys think I say this every week, but they have some of the best receivers in our league. Just watch them … They are athletic. They have running backs, an offensive line that is solid, the quarterback play has been a little inconsistent but they have talent at that position.”

Barring a major outbreak from the UTSA offense, Marshall’s offense shouldn’t feel too pressured to have to light up the scoreboard. This is a good position for freshman quarterback Isaiah Green to be in. While Green has struggled with accuracy, completing just 54% of his attempts, he’s done a good job of managing games for this offense and letting his playmakers do their thing. As long as he avoids turnovers (7 INTS this year), Green should put his offense in position to secure a win.

If there’s one thing going for the Roadrunners, it’s that Marshall standout running back Tyler King may be held out with a knee injury this week. If King is ready to go, then this game likely trends toward a blowout, as King is averaging over 6 yards per carry. Without King, Marshall’s run game could struggle and put Isaiah Green into third-and-long situations.

Prediction

It’s really hard for me to imagine UTSA beating any college football team right now, much less a team that could finish its season with eight wins. I think Marshall’s defense will thrive as the Herd continue to fight through injury concerns. I expect UTSA to continue cycling quarterbacks as the offense circles the drain with a shutout.

UTSA 0 Marshall 34