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UTSA Bye Week Mailbag

The Roadrunners head into the bye with a 1-3 record but not too many major injuries. Let’s take census of the Roadrunners’ season with four games of perspective. Thanks to everyone on Twitter that submitted questions for me to answer this week.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

@CUSAbbs - What will it take to Make C-USA Great Again?

I’ve been saying this for years but C-USA won’t be respectable again until at least two of the Texas teams and one of the Florida teams are making it to bowl games on an annual basis. The conference bet heavily on programs in talent hotbeds with large student bodies and attractive media markets— a move I still think was wise even if it hasn’t paid off yet. C-USA played the long game in the last round of expansion and they’ll look smart for it if FIU hits pay dirt with their next head coach or UNT and UTSA hit their stride with their new coaching staffs.

@UTSABBQDude - What are three changes to the depth chart you want to see coming off the bye week?

Let me break this down into three separate points...

  1. Let’s shake up that offensive line. When Juan Perez stepped out of last week’s game with an injury UTSA immediately went on a crusading drive, pounding the ball down the Monarch’s throat on 11 straight rushes before Jarveon Williams found the end zone. While the unit wasn’t tested in pass protection, they created vast running lanes for the backs and allowed UTSA to physically dominate the competition, at least for a short while. I think UTSA should start that same offensive line next week while rotating Perez in at both center and right tackle. My starting five would be Jevonte Domond, Kyle McKinney, Austin Pratt, Stefan Beard, and Gabe Casillas.
  2. I think it’s time for the Jordan Moore experiment to come to an end. I realize this is a hard move for Frank Wilson to make given their close relationship but Moore has played progressively worse in every game this season, racking up missed tackle after missed tackle. UTSA has plenty of experienced, play-making safeties stuck behind the struggling graduate transfer. With Moore set to leave the program in a couple of months it doesn’t make much sense to ride out the season with him. Give me Chase Dahlquist or CJ Levine as starting strong safety.
  3. Can’t say I have any strong opinion on a third move. I’d be okay with Jalen Rhodes jumping over Jarveon Williams to start at tailback. If Devon Davis starts over N’Keal Bailey I’ll be cool with that. Those are about the only moves I can think of but they wouldn’t bring huge changes to the team’s performance in my opinion.
NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

@JeremyKunchandy - How long did your post-game depression last?

Haha it wasn’t too bad for me personally since my expectations for the season were vastly lower than the UTSA fanbase at large. I knew ODU’s defense was tough so I wasn’t shocked to see them really shut down UTSA even though I predicted a Roadrunner win by a touchdown. By the fourth quarter came around I was just kind of laughing along at the comical performance from UTSA. Just got to sit back and enjoy the process and watch the underclassmen blossom in a rebuilding season.

@johnfnally - Will attendance for the Southern Miss game suffer due to early start and losing streak?

Oh no doubt, especially the former. I know a group of Southern Miss alumni that were thinking about making the road trip until the 11 am kick off was announced. It’s always key for the Roadrunners to get a good crowd in the Dome but small attendance numbers are a symptom of the problem at UTSA, not the infection. The program needs to focus on developing and attracting talent as San Antonio has already shown that they’re willing to hop on the bandwagon when the team is competitive. What good is having 30,000 people in the Alamodome if they’re seeing the Roadrunners get whipped every Saturday?

@markamiller50 - What are your biggest takeaways from the first 4 games? The good? The Bad? The Ugly? Biggest Surprise? Can Josiah Tauaefa become a Freshman All American?

The good: UTSA’s young players are extremely talented. Josiah Tauaefa is heaven sent (we’ll get to that later) while Teddrick McGhee is playing great football as a true freshman. Eric Banks, Solomon Wise, King Newton, Baylen Baker, and TJ King are all making plays on the defensive line as freshmen.

The bad: The Roadrunners have been wildly inconsistent and haven’t put together four clean quarters of football this season. The offense hasn’t quite taken to the push for a pro style offense.

The ugly: Story’s still the same overall. Poor offensive line play begets a lack of offensive identity which leads to a constantly rotating door at the quarterback position and endless gnashing of teeth from the fanbase. It’s a vicious cycle that will only be broken by a transcendent talent or a visionary mind at offensive coordinator.

Biggest surprise: Jarveon Williams simply hasn’t played anywhere near his talent level this season. That’s really shocking to me for a guy that I expected to surpass the thousand yard mark with ease. Williams has struggled with some injuries but it’s starting to look like he’s simply not a good fit for this scheme as a running back and that honestly hurts me a little bit.

And can Josiah Tauaefa become a Freshman All American? Yes, absolutely. Will he become a Freshman All American? Very tough to say. Only one player from the Group of Five made last year’s Freshman All American team (Houston center Will Noble) but Tauaefa’s stats might be too gaudy to ignore. I identified Tauaefa as a potential All American in my ODU game preview by comparing his current production to that of the three freshmen linebackers selected last season. Tauaefa went on to collect 15 tackles and a tackle for loss against Old Dominion, bringing his season totals to 46 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, two sacks, and three quarterback hurries. That puts him on pace to have more tackles than two 2015 freshman All Americans combined.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

@Leach4Prez - Obviously very early, but if UTSA goes 4-8 this season, what has to happen in coming years for Frank Wilson to get on the hot seat?

Jared - Honestly I think if Wilson sees an early exit from UTSA it would be due to him taking chances on recruits and graduate transfers with questionable backgrounds or criminal records. Unfortunately criminal activity from football student athletes doesn’t raise much of an eyebrow from college administrators when programs are performing at a high level but if the team isn’t even qualifying for bowl games then it becomes harder to swallow. Hopefully these guys that Wilson is bringing in are good kids that found themselves in crappy situations before.

@Kelvin01 - Why has the offense went away from the tight end? The first week Trevor and Shaq were great. Week two they didn’t catch a pass. Week three Shaq had the touchdown and only one catch this week.

Jared - Tough question. Generally speaking, tight ends’ involvement in the passing game is predicated by what the defense is showing. If the defense sits back in cover two to prevent the deep ball then it leaves a lot of space over the middle and toward the boundaries for the tight end to navigate and use his body to create mismatches. UTSA’s wide receivers aren’t taking the top off of the defenses enough to force opponents to play more conservative in the secondary so we’re seeing some stacked boxes as linebackers and strong safeties play up closer to the line of scrimmage. As you pointed out, both Stevens and Williams have proven their abilities as pass catchers. Offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo definitely wants to get them the ball but the rest of the offense needs to do their part to create spacing that’s advantageous for the tight ends and the offense in general.