Preview 2017: UTSA Roadrunners
Previewing and looking ahead at the UTSA Roadrunners season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The UTSA Roadrunners Offense
Offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo was able to establish a more efficient and explosive attack for an O coming off of two lousy seasons. It all starts with the return of QB Dalton Sturm, a veteran baller who created ways to make plays.
Three starters are back on the offensive front that did an okay job for a ground attack that returns a good back in Jalen Rhodes. The top four receivers return, led by the explosive punch of Josh Stewart and Kerry Thomas Jr., who combined for 13 touchdown catches and averaged more than 15 yards per grab.
Biggest Key To The UTSA Roadrunners Offense
Pass protection. The stats are a bit skewed, since Sturm tries to make things happen and is a runner at times, but the O line allowed 43 sacks on the season. The offense was good on third downs and was great at controlling the ball, but the line needs to be stronger despite losing both starting tackles. Getting more consistent production for the ground attack would be nice, too.
What You Need To Know About The UTSA Roadrunners Defense
Seven starters return to a salty defense full of potential all-stars. The linebacking duo of Josiah Tauaefa and La’Kel Bass should be among the best in the conference, while Marcus Davenport is a great-looking pass rusher to work the line around.
The defensive tackle rotation has to be a rock, and a few new safeties have to shine through in the 3-3-5 alignment, but the D that allowed just 392 yards per game and didn’t have any screaming weaknesses should be even stronger.
Biggest Key To The UTSA Roadrunners Defense
The run defense can’t be powered on. It did a fantastic job against New Mexico’s devastating ground attack – only allowing 219 yards – but it gave up three scores. It held tough against just about everyone as it gave up more than 200 yards four times on the year, with none of those games coming in October and November.
However, the Roadrunners were 0-5 when allowing more than one rushing score, and 6-2 when it didn’t. Those other two losses? Arizona State and Texas A&M.
UTSA Roadrunners Will Be Far Better If …
The defense can create more takeaways. UTSA cut down on giveaways in a big way, turning it over just 15 times last season, and with four of those coming in the opening win over Alabama State. But it was feast-or-famine when it came to the defensive big plays.
Turnover margin wasn’t an issue over the first month, but on the year, 14 of the 18 takeaways came in four games, with just four coming in the other nine. UTSA went 1-4 when it didn’t generate a turnover.
Best UTSA Roadrunners Offensive Player
WR Josh Stewart, Sr. – Stewart was the big play target, catching a team-leading 36 passes for 682 yards and five scores. While his brother – Kerry Thomas – came up with more touchdown catches, the 6-4, 200-pound walk-on turned into the more dangerous playmaker. He needs to be more consistent – 13 of his catches came in two games – but he’s got the right combination of size and deep play ability to stretch the field.
2. QB Dalton Sturm, Sr.
3. WR Kerry Thomas Jr., Sr.
4. RB Jalen Rhodes, Jr.
5. G/C Austin Pratt, Sr.
Best UTSA Roadrunners Defensive Player
LB Josiah Tauaefa, Soph. – The 6-1, 230-pound tackling machine came up with a whale of a freshman season, leading the team with 115 tackles with six sacks and nine tackles for loss earning first-team All-Conference USA honors. In on everything with great range, he went on a three-game tear, cranking up 37 tackles including 15 in the loss to Old Dominion. He plays like his hair is on fire.
2. DE Marcus Davenport, Sr.
3. LB La’Kel Bass, Sr.
4. S Nate Gaines, Sr.
5. DE Kevin Strong, Jr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT King Newton, Soph. – The Roadrunner run defense needs an anchor, and the 6-1, 270-pounder needs to at least be part of the equation in the middle of the three-man front. A great get for the program, he’s quick off the ball with big-time upside as an interior pass rusher.
While he might be undersized, he can get tough, making 31 stops with a sack in just nine games. Now it’s up to him and fellow sophomore Baylen Baker to hold up.
The UTSA Roadrunners Season Will Be A Success If …
It finishes with another bowl appearance. The Roadrunners need to beat the teams they’re supposed to – they were good enough to beat Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee, but lose to UTEP – and they’ll need to crank up at least one big upset to have a shot at the Conference USA title. At the very least, a second-straight bowl trip is a must.
Key Game To The UTSA Roadrunners Season
Nov. 25 at Louisiana Tech. The Conference USA schedule isn’t all that bad, missing Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee from the East and getting Southern Miss at home. But there’s a mid-year run of three road games in four weeks to get through, and there’s a huge game at the end of the regular season to deal with. There’s almost no chance at winning the West and getting to the Conference USA championship without winning at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs won 63-25 last year in Ruston.
2016 UTSA Roadrunners Fun Stats
– UTSA 1st Half Scoring: 208 – UTSA 2nd Half Scoring: 150
– Penalties: UTSA 92 for 778 yards – Opponents 76 for 656 yards
– Time of Possession: UTSA 31:27 – Opponents 28:33