The Traylor Effect

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Jose Bouquett

Coach Traylor addresses the media at his introductory press conference earlier this year. Traylor has brought a breath of fresh air to the program through the first four weeks, and has many fans thinking about the team’s great potential for the near future

Dalton Hartmann, Staff Writer

The Roadrunner football team is off to an impressive 3-1 start after losing a close game to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers this past weekend. Anyone who watched the ‘Runners last year can tell this is not the same team it was. With what seems to be a renewed offense and a solid defense, it seems that head coach Jeff Traylor has truly begun to change the way UTSA football is being played.
After the ‘Runners opted to hire a new head coach, ‘Runner fans were hoping to see a huge change in the way that the offense is run, and Traylor has not disappointed. Last year, UTSA scored 65 points over four games; this year, UTSA has scored 125 points in the same amount of time, more than twice as many. When comparing the numbers the ‘Runners had last year to this year, it is easy to see why they are putting up so many points.
The biggest change to the ‘Runners’ offense has been their ability to score effectively in multiple areas. Last year, the ‘Runners ran the ball more. They were decent at it, placing seventh in Conference USA (C-USA) while averaging 162.5 yards on the ground over the season. This year, the ‘Runners are fourth in C-USA, averaging 209.2 yards a game. With these yards mostly coming off the back of Sincere McCormick, his numbers have gone through the roof this season. Last year, McCormick averaged 81.9 yards a game; this year he is at 131.8 yards a game, over a 62% increase from last year.
While the ‘Runners are still mostly a run-first offense, their passing game has also improved. Last year, the ‘Runners had the 12th-ranked passing offense in C-USA, averaging 182.5 yards with a 58.2 completion percentage. This year, the ‘Runners are ninth, averaging 207.8 yards with a 57.8 completion percentage. While these numbers are only a slight improvement over last year, they’re skewed because of the Blazers, who have the second-best pass defense in C-USA. Before this game, the ‘Runners were sixth in the conference, averaging 247 yards.
While the ‘Runners’ passing and running game have changed for the better, the biggest change comes from their special teams. Last year, the ‘Runners kicked a total of 11 field goals, making nine in 12 games. Within the first four games, kicker Hunter Duplessis has made all nine field goal attempts. This is the biggest change to the offensive side of the ball. Scoring easy points with field goals allows the ‘Runner offense to play from ahead and is the biggest factor as to why we are winning these close games. Drastic improvement across the board offensively points to the success that Coach Traylor has had in implementing his system here at UTSA.
The difference Traylor has made on the offensive side of the ball is huge, but the way he is changing the ‘Runners’ defense is extraordinary. The ‘Runners have always had a solid run defense, but they have lacked the ability to get to the quarterback. This does not seem to be the case anymore. Last year, the ‘Runners sacked the opposing quarterback 26 times over 12 games, which ranked ninth in conference. This year, the ‘Runners have 11 sacks over four games, which is currently leading the conference. With so much pressure being put on the quarterback to get the ball out of his hands, it is no wonder why the ‘Runners also have the most interceptions in the conference; they have seven picks in four games. Even with seven interceptions, UTSA’s secondary still struggles with stopping the passing game, allowing 300.2 yards a game on average. If the ‘Runners can improve their secondary and continue putting pressure on the quarterback, this defense could become a menace to other teams.
Making the right choice at the right time is how you gain a lead and win games, and this year, we are seeing a huge improvement with the ‘Runners’ decision making. Last year, the ‘Runners were one of the worst teams in the conference at making the right choice when it came to what to do on third down. Last year, the ‘Runners were 11th in third down percentage with a 36.6% conversion rate. This year, they are sixth with a 43.9% completion. These improvements are keeping the ball in the ‘Runners’ hands, which is why their offense has seen its effectiveness improve.
All of these changes are what is making the ‘Runners look so different, and none of them could have been achieved without Jeff Traylor. Traylor has turned this program around and has begun to make the ‘Runners look like a potential conference powerhouse. If the ‘Runners and Traylor continue their growth, a bowl game is realistically within reach.