There are no moral victories, but UTSA fans should be extremely satisfied with how their Roadrunners competed at Kyle Field. They were never buried by the Aggies.
UTSA’s defense played lights out against the Fighting Texas Aggies, limiting them to just two touchdowns and forcing eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage. In what was predicted to be a 30-point blowout, A&M struggled to consistently move the ball against a defense made up of mostly underclassmen and first-time starters.
On the offensive side of the ball, however, UTSA’s offense was battered and beaten before the game began.
The two-headed monster of UTSA’s backfield was halved with tailback Jalen Rhodes healing a collarbone he bruised against Louisiana Tech last week, leaving starter Jarveon Williams to carry the majority of the load. He had some help from junior Tyrell Clay and freshman kick returner Matt Guidry. Guidry had himself a moment when he broke open a 22-yard gain at the end of the first quarter in route to UTSA’s first and only touchdown of the day.
Coach Frank Wilson said after the game that Rhodes “was dressed and ready to play, but not at the risk of jeopardizing his health.” Only if Williams would have gotten injured would Rhodes have gotten a snap. Wilson wants Rhodes at 100% when the Roadrunners play Charlotte for bowl eligibility.
To make matters even worse, UTSA’s first and second string centers - Juan Perez and Austin Pratt - both missed the trip to College Station nursing injuries of their own. Left guard Kyle McKinney had to take over as the leader of the offensive line for the first time ever, and it is said that he just learned how to snap the ball the previous Monday. He had about six or seven shaky snaps on the day, but should receive a lot of credit for running every single offensive play of the game.
One of those snaps turned into an Aggie-recovered fumble when UTSA was 30 yards away from making the game a one-possession contest in the fourth quarter.
The change did have a significant impact on UTSA’s ability to move the ball. A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett took full advantage of the line’s vulnerability as he sacked UTSA’s quarterbacks four and a half times.
UTSA’s quarterbacks played poorly against an injury-stricken A&M secondary. Starter Dalton Sturm struggled with his accuracy, only completing three of his seven passes for 18 yards. It wasn’t even the end of the first quarter when Sturm was sidelined for backup Jared Johnson. Johnson led UTSA downfield on his first drive, completing three of five passes for 32 yards and this:
Did you miss @UTSAFTBL's Josh Stewart channeling his inner Odell Beckham Jr.?— Campus Insiders (@CampusInsiders) November 20, 2016
We got you covered. pic.twitter.com/y00THHPdm7
"One of the best catches I have ever seen" -Mack Brown @ESPN_CoachMack— BootlegBentley (@bootlegbentley) November 19, 2016
Yes, that’s UTSA wide out Josh Stewart, the most talented wide receiver the Roadrunners football program has ever seen. He had six catches for 75 yards and A&M’s defensive backs had absolutely no answer for him. Credit to Johnson for putting it literally where only Stewart could catch it.
Stewart’s brother, Kerry Thomas, was second in receiving with four receptions for 62 yards and a mean stiff arm down the sideline in the third quarter.
This does create a head-scratching situation at quarterback as UTSA heads into the game that decides their first-ever bowl fate. Perhaps Johnson gets first-team reps this week and we see a five-day battle. Johnson wasn’t superb, especially in a collapsing pocket, but he wasn’t bad either. He finished 15 for 24 with 186 yards and that touchdown.
With the score at 10-7, the Roadrunners could have tied the game but UTSA failed to capitalize on an early interception during the previous drive. After converting on fourth and six, place kicker Victor Falcon missed a 44 yard field goal that could have made the game close early on. Sturm was taken out after completing just one pass through three attempts during that sequence.
The Roadrunners showed a lot of discipline, converting two of three fourth downs and only committing three penalties. One, of course, was a targeting penalty that resulted in an ejection, marking the fourth consecutive game UTSA has had a player ejected for targeting. Someone check if that’s a record. This time the culprit was sophomore safety Carl Austin on A&M’s first drive of the game. Sometimes this call is questionable but the replay clearly showed Austin guiding his helmet directly into that of A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak as he slid on a scramble.
Last week middle linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was ejected for targeting, causing him to miss the first half of the game against A&M. He returned in the second half to break UTSA’s single-season tackling record with 98 tackles. The previous record of 95 had been held since 2012 by Brandon Reeves. Tauaefa still has four quarters to raise that mark— not bad for his freshman campaign.
A 47-yard rushing touchdown by A&M’s Trayveon Williams sealed the victory for the Aggies, putting them up 23-7 at the end of the third quarter. He finished with eleven carries for 80 yards and Hubenak completed 19 of his 32 pass attempts with a touchdown of his own.
Defensive end Marcus Davenport led the way for UTSA’s defense, recording 11 tackles and a sack with safety Nate Gaines behind him with 10. Safety Jordan Moore also has shown a week-to-week progression as he was all over the place, tacking on eight tackles.
UTSA looks forward to their season finale against Charlotte as they will compete for their first-ever bowl bid in front of their home crowd at the Alamodome next Saturday.