A slew of early mistakes and one very questionable coaching decision from UTSA allowed Kansas State to jump out in front the Roadrunners by 20 points just before halftime. The Wildcats didn’t look back as they continued to punish UTSA offensively via quarterback Skylar Thompson’s 279 total yards and three touchdowns, in his first big statistical performance of the season.
The Roadrunners started the game with two offsides penalties from the defense on the opening drive. Thompson hit Kansas State wide receiver Zach Reuter for a wide open 37-yard completion, eventually setting up a three yard touchdown from running back Alex Barnes.
UTSA’s offensive opening wasn’t much prettier. The Roadrunners' offensive line got manhandled as starting quarterback Cordale Grundy was forced to scramble twice, forced to throw in a hurry twice and was finally sacked for a loss of nine. The backfield hardly had tenths of a second before being collapsed upon and UTSA was forced to punt.
The rough start was nothing new for the Roadrunners, who have “spotted” the opposition points in every contest this year.
The Roadrunners seemed to settle down after that point. The defense forced a three and out after a ferocious 13-yard sack from safety Andrew Martel, and from there up until halfway through the second quarter, the Roadrunners faired respectably with the Wildcats.
Grundy and the offense came back to work, and fans got the first glimpse of what offensive coordinator Al Borges’ system could be capable of. Spanning 50 yards in seven plays, UTSA jolted downfield in under two minutes behind a 16 yard dart from running back Jalen Rhodes and three straight completions from Grundy.
Rhodes had his most involved game of the season; the senior averaged 5.9 yards per carry with 53 total yards on nine runs. Coupled with running back BJ Daniels, the duo earned 100 yards between 23 total carries.
Grundy connected to three different receivers on the drive and found junior fullback Halen Steward alone in the endzone to tie the game at seven.
It was the best display UTSA’s offense has shown in quite some time and probably the fastest-moving we’ve seen in Frank Wilson’s tenure.
Following a Kansas State field goal, UTSA’s offense began driving downfield once again, but this time they were their own worst enemy. Disorganization kept pestering as the Roadrunners wasted two timeouts in efforts of avoiding delay of game penalties, halting the momentum gained from Grundy’s 24-yard completion to true freshman wide receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg to bring the unit near midfield. The play was one of Grundy’s most impressive so far, showing his ability to move out of the pocket and avoid pressure while keep his eyes downfield.
Unfortunately, the delay of game penalty would happen regardless just two plays later and UTSA would be forced to punt. Their secondary would again get torched by Thompson, this time on a 42-yard bomb to Dalton Schoen. Thompson connected to seven different receivers, most often being Isaiah Zuber, who single handedly accounted for 144 yards on UTSA’s defense.
Head coach Frank Wilson then trotted out second string quarterback DJ Gillins in place of Grundy, who at that point had completed five of his eight passes, including a touchdown. As is typical practice with Wilson, the head coach unwarrantedly swapped quarterbacks. There wasn’t much rationale to pull Grundy when he did. Taking him out would prove to be the domino that got the score out of hand for UTSA, as Gillins would fumble on his first scramble attempt to set up Kansas State for another touchdown before halftime.
The deficit was at twenty points coming out of the locker room.
Though Grundy was back leading the offense coming out of the half, his being yanked just as things were beginning to gel for the Roadrunners lost a momentum that couldn’t be regained. The unit would have success getting back into Kansas State territory, but six straight run calls including a keeper on fourth and one would kill any offensive life that remained from the first quarter.
That swap, coupled with numerous delay of game penalties, offsides penalties and wasted timeouts, proved a level of disfunction and lack of discipline seemingly ever-present on Wilson’s sideline. Granted, it is difficult to maintain consistency with youth to the degree of five offensive linemen combining for 16 starts going into this game, but the Roadrunners will have to mature quickly as they head into G5 competition and cut back on the self-inflicted wounds. And Wilson has to stick to one guy under center.
UTSA’s defense provided ample strength upfront as they usually do, providing two turnovers off fumbles, three sacks and nine tackles for loss, but the defense simply couldn’t get enough help from their secondary. Kansas State’s success with the deep pass was unstoppable, even as they cycled to second string quarterback Alex Delton, who capped off the Wildcat’s scoring with a 72 yard bomb of his own to Zuber.
It remains to be seen how UTSA will measure up to their own competition level, as the samples from the last three weeks have been vastly different.
The Roadrunners hope to recover from the three game mauling back home next week, as they welcome regional rival Texas State for the HEB I-35 Showdown next Saturday at the Alamodome. Kansas State kicks off Big XII play next week as they’ll head down the country roads to take on #14 West Virginia.