Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Kick Off: Saturday, September 16th, 6:00 pm
Audio: Ticket 760
Live Stats: Sidearm Sports
Betting Odds: UTSA -30.5
Series History: First meeting
Here we find two programs on vastly differing short-term trajectories. UTSA put Conference USA and the nation at large on notice last week with a commanding win over the Baylor Bears, the Roadrunners’ first win over a Power Five opponent. At the same time, the Southern Jaguars were being raked over the coals by Southern Miss. The game ended with a 45-0 final score as the Jaguars failed to convert a third down attempt and walked out of The Rock without much direction for the future of their season. Yikes.
A proud FCS program out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the Jaguars have had a rough going early in the season. A playoff team in 2016, Southern was expected to compete for a conference championship this year. Unfortunately that all changed after three year starter Austin Howard went down with a knee injury. While Howard is expected to return in time for conference play, his absence is clearly sorely missing in the Jaguars offense.
Southern started their season on national TV as they held off South Carolina State on ESPN2. The Bulldogs had multiple chances to win the game on their last drive however they were plagued by dropped passes, handing a 14-8 win to Southern.
With Howard missing, Southern’s prospects took a nose dive in week two against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles’ defense absolutely feasted off Southern’s freshmen quarterbacks as USM held the Jaguars to just 150 yards of total offense. Glendon McDaniel, John Lampley, and Darqez Lee all saw snaps under center. None of them enjoyed much success. It’s a safe bet to assume that all three will play against UTSA unless one of them really gets into a groove early.
Quarterback isn’t the only position Southern has been rocked by injury at. The Jaguars’ leading rusher Herbert Edwards will miss the game due to injury, as will key defensive line reserve Simeon Houston. The talent disparity between these two teams was already huge. These piling injuries will only increase Southern’s difficulty in matching the Roadrunners’ physicality.
The main question facing UTSA this week is how they will respond to the resounding success they enjoyed in week one? After handling a Power Five opponent relatively easily, will the Roadrunners play down to their competition while facing an injury-stricken team from the FCS ranks? Quarterback Dalton Sturm played arguably his best game as a Roadrunner last week. Another strong showing of mistake-free football will go miles towards dispelling the “inconsistent” label slapped on the signal caller.
While last Saturday was a game Roadrunner fans will remember for a long time, it wasn’t all roses for UTSA. The Roadrunners lost starting left guard Kyle McKinney to injury within the first few series of offense for UTSA. Juan Perez stepped in to replace McKinney and, despite his struggles, played well enough for the Roadrunners to secure the victory. With a week of practice to shuffle things around it will be interesting to see if UTSA sticks with Perez at left guard or if a new starting lineup will be revealed. Regardless, expect to see a lot of movement along the offensive line as the staff tries to figure out exactly what they have on the roster.
As UTSA wasn’t afforded a week one game it’s very important that Head Coach Frank Wilson is able to work a lot of different guys into the rotation this week. UTSA needs to take inventory of which athletes on the roster are ready to contribute under the lights and which need more practice before given more responsibility on the team. Expect UTSA to play a ton of their underclassmen, including guys that didn’t see the field against Baylor.
Ultimately this game will come down to focus and execution for the Roadrunners. With such a large talent advantage UTSA should be able to control the trenches and dominate all phases of the game. If mental mistakes are avoided, especially by any underclassmen seeing their first snaps, then UTSA should be in good shape to roll through the Jaguars and get the Roadrunners reserves plenty of playing time in the home opener.
I think it’s fair to expect a bit of a mental let down from UTSA following their big win last week. It’s also nearly impossible to see Southern playing as poorly as they did last week again. That being said, I’m not ready to put UTSA on upset alert or anything of the sorts. The Roadrunners should pretty much be in control of this one since the opening stanza however I am concerned that sloppy play from the younger players on the roster could lead to some advantageous situations for the Jaguars.
Southern 13 UTSA 31