FIU (6-3-5, 4-1 C-USA) vs UTSA (3-6, 2-3 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 10, 7:00 PM
TV: ESPN+ (Play-By-Play: Lincoln Rose, Analyst: LaDarrin McLane, Sidelines: Tina Nguyen)
Radio: 610 WIOD (Play-By-Play: A.J. Ricketts, Analyst:Kenny Kelly)/ Roadrunners Sports Network 93.3 FM The Bull (Play-By-Play: Andy Everett, Analyst: Jay Riley, Sidelines: Pat Evans)
Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Betting Line: FIU -10 O/U 48
All-Time Series Record: Tied at 1 (FIU won last match-up 14-7 in 2017)
The Panthers are looking to rebound after suffering their worst loss of the season last week to rival FAU. It starts with their run defense that’s ranked 103rd in FBS football.
The unit is giving up an average of 204.2 yards per game on the ground.
“This isn’t about adjustments. It’s about guys lining up in the right spot, playing the right gaps, fundamentals, technique and tackling,” said FIU head coach Butch Davis.
Saturday’s contest against the Roadrunners couldn’t come at a better time. UTSA’s run game is ranked dead last in Conference USA and both of their primary ball-carriers average below four yards per carry.
FIU’s offense will look to get back on track after having been one of the most explosive in C-USA though 10 weeks.
Last week saw the return of Anthony Jones, who has missed most of the season due to injuries suffered as a victim of a drive-by shooting.
The four-headed monster of Jones, D’Vonte Price, Napoleon Maxwell and Shawndarrius Phillips will look to establish their presence early and open up opportunities for James Morgan to move the offense downfield.
Offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky’s offense is one of the most efficient in the nation.
The Panthers hold the fourth highest third-down conversion percentage in the nation at 54.5 percent and rank in the top-10 in average third-down distance at 6.4 yards.
It’s Week 11 of Year Three of the Frank Wilson era and the Roadrunners’ headman may just be coaching for his job.
The Roadrunners were whipped and embarrassed by the UAB Blazers last week despite having a bye week to prepare. In a 52-3 defeat that saw four different players take snaps under center, it’s no secret that morale in the locker room is at an all-time low.
UTSA’s offense continues to neglect any passing semblance of utility as the Roadrunners failed to score a touchdown for the second time in their past three outings. Sloppy and directionless, UTSA’s offense managed just 220 yards of offense against the Blazers’ tough defense.
Yards per game. pic.twitter.com/5o3mEYaeQb— Matty (@TailgateSA) November 8, 2018
While offensive failure is nothing new to UTSA, the offense’s futility has begun to bleed over into the defense. The defensive unit has looked disinterested, unmotivated, and downright bored throughout the past two games. The Roadrunners gave up a school record of 668 yards against UAB, including another school record 419 yards on the ground. To add insult to injury, the Blazers were playing a freshman quarterback making his first start.
One thing’s for sure — no one on this team is having fun playing football right now.
I think that applies to the Roadrunners’ head coach as well. Once well known his animation and optimism, the weight of mounting losses and increasing external pressure seems to be taking its toll on Wilson. His once bubbly demeanor has now taken a shift towards the subdued and defeated.
There’s a high probability that UTSA could see their smallest home crowd ever as they return to the Alamodome this weekend for the first time in a month. It’s clear this program is sliding further and further into a tailspin.
Frank Wilson should be safe to return for the 2019 season if he can show consistent improvement over the next three weeks but the team has been trending in the opposite direction over the past couple of months.
In order to answer the call for improvement, Frank Wilson must have his team play like they believe that they can win. Does Frank Wilson himself hold that belief himself? It may be the only answer that saves this UTSA locker room and and Wilson’s future as a head football coach.
Eric: Last week was an embarrassing loss for FIU. Mainly because there’s no doubt in my mind they’re a better football team than they showed. Yes, the run defense has been an ongoing issue. But the Panthers have been out to prove all season long that they’re not “the old FIU.” I think they rebound in a major way and get another conference victory in San Antonio. FIU 38 UTSA 10
Jared: Expect a major bounce back week from one of the best teams in this conference. FIU is a much better coached team than UTSA and has so much more left to play for. The Panthers could enjoy steady success on the ground, while James Morgan will feast on the Roadrunners’ young and thin cornerbacks. FIU 35 UTSA 9