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Why UTSA Will Be the Most Improved Team in Conference USA in 2016

It's a small bar to cross but the UTSA Roadrunners should be the conference's most improved team this season.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

One has to hand it to new UTSA head coach Frank Wilson and his staff. They're certainly not giving off the vibe of a program that won just three games last season.

The Roadrunners have rattled off big wins on the recruiting trail in both the 2016 and 2017 classes, giving the program a huge talent infusion for this upcoming season as well as those to come in the future. To recap, UTSA has added the #175 nationally ranked wide receiver (Marquez McNair), the 2015 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year (Jared Johnson, QB), a former Under Armor All-American and LSU linebacker (Ronnie Feist), a four star offensive tackle and former LSU Tiger (Jevonte Domond), and a three star JUCO CB who had scholarship offers from 48 FBS programs (Devron Davis). All of these players are eligible to play immediately.

UTSA's staff has essentially plugged talent gaps at all position but defensive end where the Roadrunners will depend on some redshirt freshmen and walk on athletes to provide depth.

While the increase of size, speed, and talent is the leading reason why the Roadrunners may outperform expectations, they also gain the benefit of a proactive and energetic staff that has brought a new identity and new ideas to the program.

A great example of how the staff's Power Five experience is paying dividends for the program is the addition of a new summer program intended to give the team valuable off-field coaching through film sessions. You can read more about the summer "football school" here. It's a good bet to assume the staff will have plenty of improvements to bring the program in game week preparation and in-game management as well.

Even with all of the positive momentum around the program UTSA was probably due to increase on last year's win total by default. The Roadrunners faced a treacherous schedule last season as they started the year off with a three week span against Arizona, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State.

The Roadrunners will still face two Power Five programs this season (Arizona State and Texas A&M) but they will also gain the luxury of starting the season against FCS opponent Alabama State in order to work out the rough edges of new offensive and defensive systems before traveling to Colorado State.

The Roadrunners still have a ton of questions to answer on both sides of the ball but in a weak Conference USA West it's no longer out of the question to entertain the thought of UTSA heading into their last game of the season with five wins. If UTSA gets some lucky breaks along the path of the season then the Roadrunners could face Charlotte at home to end the regular season on a great opportunity to give the program its first ever bowl bid in Frank Wilson's first year as a head coach. Barring an insane run from Charlotte or UNT, six wins from UTSA should secure the Roadrunners the designation of Conference USA's most improved program in 2016.