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UTSA looks to restructure in year three under Frank Wilson

The Roadrunners will have to endure a strenuous beginning to their schedule with three consecutive Power 5 opponents right out of the gate.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Florida International Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

UTSA enters its third season under head coach Frank Wilson’s tutelage with a reinvented system. Provided with a new offensive outlook input from the veteran mind of Al Borges, the scheme will transition from last year’s pro-style to a spread offense.

The move has fans salivating for a more energetic on-the-field product, but they should also heed the processing time of such a transition. It won’t happen immediately, especially considering a welcoming party of three consecutive Power 5 programs.

UTSA fields a very young squad this year, with youth brimming on both sides of the ball. Albeit very talented, a lot of the team simply hasn’t seen a vast amount of college snaps and there’s going to be some growing pains to endure there. The good news is, for the first time, the roster will be predominately filled with Wilson’s own recruits and he should have success molding their talent over the course of the season.

With questions as to who will win the arms race for starting quarterback between transfers D.J. Gillins and Cordale Grundy, and how soon freshmen can get up to par to provide the necessary depth at receiver, running back and defensive back, there is just too much troubleshooting for this team to figure out through this season to reflect a great wins and loss record this year. This team can one day be great, but it will entail some persevering this year.

Arizona State Sun Devils

Location: Tempe, AZ

Date and time: September 1, 9:30 CT

Broadcast: FS1

UTSA kicks off their season in the paradox that is #Pac12AfterDark, in Arizona State’s Herm Edwards’ collegiate head coaching debut. The former ESPN analyst returns to the college coaching ranks after 29 years. ASU will be much more talented, but Edwards is bound to have some early debacles that the Roadrunners can take advantage of. Expect UTSA’s young core to be a little spooked by the opening night crowd in Tempe. Best case scenario, we see some high-flying moments from the offense and the Runners hang around for three of the four quarters.

L, 38-23

Baylor Bears

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: September 8, 6:00 CT

Broadcast: Facebook Live via CBS Sports Network

The home opener for UTSA’s beloved Alamodome will take place when Baylor comes to town in Week 2. The sole thought for the Bears will be revenge.

UTSA earned their first Power 5 victory over Baylor amidst the Bears’ one win season last year. The Bears have effectively overhauled a lot of personnel and should be miles better than they were last year. They’ll have a personal vendetta in this one which will ultimately bury the Roadrunners.

L, 30-13

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Baylor
UTSA defenders break up a pass against Baylor.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State Wildcats

Location: Manhattan, KS

Date and time: September 15, 6:00 PM CT

Broadcast: Fox Sports

The Roadrunners will close off their brutal opening to the season against the ever-steady Kansas State Wildcats. While KSU has been the rare beacon of stability in college football under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats must replace both their offensive and defensive coordinators this season. Snyder must also resolve a muddy quarterback situation. It’s a lot to handle for most coaches but Snyder has proven time and time again that’s he up to the challenge. The Wildcats size and strength along the line of scrimmage should make all the difference in a tight game.

L, 28-21

Texas State Bobcats

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: September 22, 6:00 PM CT

Broadcast: ESPN+

The H-E-B I-35 Showdown is the funnest game of the year for both schools. A rival within close proximity, the game brings with it a slew a of away team fans, bedsheet banter and a hell of a tailgate.

Head coach Everett Withers has made tremendous strides with the program and they’re set to be a competitive Sun Belt team this year. They’ll give the Roadrunners a much harder time than last year, but UTSA’s talent will outlast them to extend the series record to 3-0.

W, 28-24

UTEP Miners

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: September 29, 6:00 CT

Broadcast: ESPN+

The whackiest series in UTSA’s brief history is that with its sister school UTEP. A series in which the home team has never won, UTSA vs UTEP is a game to expect the unexpected. Be it five overtimes or three lightening delays, something wild is bound to happen.

In UTEP’s first year after the departure of head coach Sean Kugler, they are primed to begin trending upward again. The drafting of Aaron Jones to the NFL depleted their primary offensive weapon of the last few years, but they are stronger in other areas and quarterback Ryan Metz is now a senior. This game should hold true to the tested standard of whackiness, but UTSA knows this is a must win for them to have a chance at .500. Jared Sackett kicks the game winner to avenge the 5OT loss of 2016.

W, 24-21

Rice Owls

Location: Houston, TX

Date and time: October 6, 6:00 CT

Broadcast: ESPN3

Rice, unfortunately, is not going to threaten anybody in C-USA this year. The best part of UTSA at Rice is the large consensus of Houston-area Roadrunner alumni in attendance. It’s practically a home game.

The Roadrunners are fortunate to have this three-game stretch of likely wins after the mollywhopping they’ll endure to start the season. It’s critical they nab all three of these wins before getting into the girth of conference play.

W, 27-13

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: October 13, 6:00 CT

Broadcast: ESPN+

Skip Holtz and company look to return to their place atop of the West this season, and in quarterback J’mar Smith’s second full season as a starter, they’re poised to do exactly that. With Smith and the offense more in sync, they should produce one of the highest scoring outputs in the division.

This will be the first real conference test for the Roadrunners, but it’s a reach to think they’ll remain competitive for all four quarters. UTSA’s offense won’t be able to keep with the Bulldogs’ pace.

L, 35-17

NCAA Football: Rice at Texas-San Antonio
Tyrell Clay jets past Rice defenders.
John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Location: Hattiesburg, MS

Date and time: October 20, 6:00 CT

Broadcast: ESPN+

UTSA’s road trip kicks off to Hattiesburg, where a strong Southern Miss awaits. The departure of their workhorse running back I’to Smith lessens their offensive threat. They also will have a new quarterback after the departure of Keon Howard and the suspension of Kwadra Griggs, but JUCO transfer Jack Abraham has gotten plenty of practice reps with the first string.

That said, this is still a stout team on both sides of the ball and Southern Miss plays well at home. UTSA has a chance to make it interesting, but the Roadrunners’ inexperience cause them to beat themselves down the stretch.

L, 28-23

UAB Blazers

Location: Birmingham, AL

Date and time: November 3, 6:30 pm CT

Broadcast: BeIN Sports

The Blazers impressed many in their first year back on the gridiron, but how much of that can be credited to the magic behind #TheReturn? UAB won’t be able to replicate that same momentum this season, but Bill Clark is still one of the best coaches in the conference and they bring back a lot of their roster.

This is a potential trap game for UAB as they come off what should be an easy win over UTEP and prepare for division foe Southern Miss. UTSA’s defense gives this team fits and they squeak out of Birmingham with a win.

W, 20-26

FIU Panthers

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: September 10, 6:00 PM CST

Broadcast: ESPN+

While Lane Kiffin grabbed headlines in Boca Raton, Butch Davis quietly started building a monster down I-95. Many have glossed over the fact that the Panthers finished the 2017 season in second place in the eastern division. The Panthers graduated a ton of seniors last season but they’ve restocked with transfers from Power Five and JUCO programs, bolting on to an already talented roster.

Whether James Morgan or Christian Alexander wins the starting spot under center, the offense is loaded with game breaking talent at both running back and wide receiver. The Panthers also boast one of the strongest defensive lines in the G5. While there are holes and inexperience around the roster, FIU is going to be a very tough out this season. In a battle between two young squads I’ll go ahead and give the nod to the home team.

W, 24-20

Marshall Thundering Herd

Location: Huntington, WV

Date and time: November 17, 1:30 pm CT

Broadcast: Facebook Live via STADIUM

A dark horse to win C-USA East, Marshall has so much enticing talent that it’s easy to look past the program losing both coordinators over the offseason. If graduate transfer Alex Thomson pans out then Marshall should have the second best passing attack in the conference behind North Texas. The Herd’s defense showed tremendous improvement over 2017 and returns almost the entirety of that unit. It’s exceedingly tough to win in Huntington so UTSA really has the cards stacked against them in this game.

L, 42-21

North Texas Mean Green

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date and time: November 24, 6:00 pm CT

Broadcast: ESPN+

North Texas is the most important opponent for UTSA. Head coach Seth Littrell inherited the program at the same time Wilson did UTSA, and he has accomplished the more impressive turnaround thus far, winning C-USA West in just his second season last year.

UNT ripped Roadrunners hearts out last season, when quarterback Mason Fine led the Mean Green 98 yards downfield in the final minute of regulation to capture the win. This game is personal for the programs, whether they like to admit it or not. It is highlighted, circled and starred on the schedule upon release.

North Texas graduated their leading offensive force in Jeffrey Wilson, but they don’t regress much outside of that in the form of on-field talent. This team might be even scarier than they were last year, and UTSA just won’t be able to oust them.

L, 32-20

Final record: 5-7

Poll

How many games will UTSA win this year?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    4 or less
    (11 votes)
  • 14%
    5
    (10 votes)
  • 35%
    6
    (24 votes)
  • 32%
    7 or more
    (22 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now