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Roadrunners Overcome Injuries to Win the Battle of I-35

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

The Roadrunners entered Saturday's matchup undefeated against in-state rival, Texas State. That streak will continue, as UTSA defeated the Bobcats 20-13, extending the win streak to 5-0.


Odds heading into this game:

Line: UTSA -13.5

O/U: 66.5

 

UTSA Defense was Phenomenal.


Texas State headed into the Alamodome following a big upset against Baylor. They received the ball to begin the game, however UTSA started with an aggressive defense. Avery Morris and company pushed the Bobcats to a "three and out" after a brilliant sack on 2nd down.


That pressure continued throughout the entire game and made the true difference for the Roadrunners as they recorded 6 sacks on the night, including 10 tackles for loss. Texas State Quarterback TJ Finley was met multiple times by Trey Moore in the backfield as the UTSA Linebacker recorded 3 of those 6 sacks.


The level of the defense seemed to be turned to another level on 3rd downs, as the Bobcats stalled out of a number of drives due to pass deflections, tight coverage, and blown-up plays behind the line of scrimmage. Texas State was a laughable 3-14 with 3rd down efficiency thanks to the 210 defense.


UTSA defense didn't allow Texas State to get a first down until 2 minutes left in the first quarter and the Bobcats needed to do it on 4th down. Roadrunners defense sent a message early in this game.


The only time that seemed to have UTSA defense in any sort of "panic" was right before the half.


The Bobcats put something together late in the 2nd quarter as TJ Finley continued to convert on 3rd down as he took his Texas State team down the field. The drive ended with Jahmyl Jeter on a 3-yard rush.


After the injuries to Frank Harris and Makai Hart (more details below) Texas State seemed to take advantage of the momentum shift with a drive into field goal range before the half was over. TJ Finley found his receivers multiple times on the drive open in the middle of the field as time was running down.


Other than that, UTSA defense has shown drastic improvement in comparison to last season. It's clear they wanted to send a message after last week's tough defeat to Houston.


They did exactly that.


Remove All Doubt You Ever Had in Frank Harris


After a subpar game from subzero last week in Houston, Quarterback Frank Harris eliminated any doubt that he is still "the guy" and the leader of this football team. Frank battled injury and a beat-up offensive line and still did what was needed to get the Roadrunners back in the win column in 2023.


Frank Harris was injured in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury. He walked off under his own power. He left the game for two plays and then returned for one play after being sent to the locker room before half. A few plays later on the same drive, redshirt Senior Right Tackle Makai Hart was carted off the field with an injury, putting another obstacle against the already struggling offensive line.


Redshirt Sophomore Eddie Lee Marburger from McAllen, Texas took the place of Frank Harris. He could not get anything moving and the Roadrunners were forced to punt after Marburger was sacked as Texas State attacked the new replacement at right tackle Deandre Marshall. Harris was forced out of the majority of the offseason and Marburger received the majority of the first team reps heading into the season.

Frank Harris returned as the signal caller to start the 2nd half, but it was evident that he was not 100 percent. Harris stayed in the pocket and took a sack as the Roadrunners punted after three plays.


When it looked like trouble, Frank and new UTSA Offensive Coordinator Justin Burke adapted well to keep Texas State from getting within reach of the lead. He capitalized on a key drive in the 3rd quarter with a brilliant pass and catch by Willie McCoy for the score. Marking Frank Harris' 100th career touchdown pass.

He would finish the day 26/37, 214 yards and a Touchdown. On the ESPN+ Broadcast he was also named the Geico Player of the Game.


Harris showed true grit and toughness on Saturday. Nothing unordinary coming from him if you ask me. Frank took to X (formally Twitter) last week after the loss to the Cougars with a message to the UTSA Faithful. I'd say he followed through with his promise.




Road "Runners" By Commitee

We appear to have another one of those good problems to have in the UTSA Backfield, solid depth. Head Coach Jeff Traylor seems to have a history of finding emerging talent in the backfield as he did with Kevorian Barnes last season for the Roadrunners.


Now, as Barnes takes the role of starting running back, two new candidates have emerged to give RB Coach Julian Griffin and the rest of the coaching staff good reason to make it a committee in the backfield.

Saturday, the offense utilized Robert Henry more than they did in last week's game and it paid off. Henry had a big run to push into Bobcat territory to begin the 2nd quarter and averaged over 4 yards per carry on the day. Although only eight carries, it seems that Henry was utilized in some crucial times of the game.


The same solid drive continues with a successful WR screen to Josh Cephus to get UTSA into the redzone. In the next play, Vanderbilt transfer, Rocko Griffin, goes off tackle for a 20-yard touchdown and got the Roadrunners score up 10-0. Griffin is a tank and did a fantastic job at reading his blockers to get into the endzone on Saturday.


Although Barnes, who had his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season will continue to get the bulk of the carries (and for good reason), don't be surprised to see these two make more of an impact next week against the Cadets and as the season progresses.



Special Teams Shows Great Improvement

After a tough go in Week 1, UTSA looks to have received a makeover in the special team's department.


And it looks good.


Alabama transfer Chase Allen was successful on all four of his kicks Saturday, including a 48-yard field goal. This was Allen's first game as a Roadrunner, as he was not available last week for the game against Houston.


Special Teams coverage also improved this week both on punts and kickoffs. Although some improvements are still needed before they head into conference play, they're on the right track.


Final Word, Don't Fret over the WRs


Got to give a shoutout to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg. He led the team with 78 yards on 6 receptions. He completed some very impressive catches, and although he didn't find the endzone, was a major reason why UTSA continued multiple drives late to close out the game.


With all the uncertainty surrounding the Wide Receiver room since the departure of Zakhari Franklin. This group has what it takes to be competitive in the American Conference and quite frankly, win it.


With Josh Cephus holding down the fort as the Roadrunners number one wide receiver, add in the most underrated tight end in the country in Oscar Cardenas and soon to be a healthy De'Corian Clark and you will have a core that will rival what they had over the past few seasons.



Back at Home Next Week

The Roadrunners will look to move to 2-1 next week as they will host Army next Saturday (9/16). Gametime is scheduled for 6pm CT. Army is currently 1-1 after defeating FCS Opponent Delaware State 57-0 Saturday.


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