UTSA football to defend conference title

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

The Roadrunners are coming off a record-setting football season. However, now faced with a tougher schedule there are higher expectations to meet. After records being broken all of last year and the national exposure, will UTSA football take a step back? 

The out-of-conference games for UTSA are the toughest they have ever had, with the first game being against No. 24 Houston. The following week, the ‘Runners travel to West Point to play a frisky Army team who beat UTSA in the 2020 season. They will then play in Austin against the Texas Longhorns, who could very well be nationally ranked when these two teams meet. Playing these traditional schools with a historic pedigree will be a challenge in which the ‘Runners could find themselves down 0-3. 

UTSA, like any other college, did lose key players to the NFL draft. Leading rusher Sincere McCormick, star cornerback Tariq Woolen and lineman Spencer Burford are just a few of the familiar faces gone. 

Even if UTSA were to go 0-4 at worst case in their out-of-conference games, they can still compete for the conference championship with their eight conference games. Only two of the teams the ‘Runners play this season (Western Kentucky and University of Alabama-Birmingham), had a winning conference record last season, which cushions UTSA’s schedule and will help them get back to defend their title. 

Despite all the negatives, UTSA had not only the best recruiting class in program history but also the best class in C-USA. Transfer Zahquan Frazier was the highest graded player in UTSA history and can also help replace Woolen, who is now a Seattle Seahawk. 

Saying UTSA’s football team going 11-1 again or better is the only way to meet the expectations, expect to be disappointed. However, if they were to go 8-4 or 9-3 while defending their conference title, that would be meeting the expectation. After going to bowl games in head coach Jeff Traylor’s first two seasons, finally winning that game will mean more than going 8-0 in conference play. Retaining the championship title with a bowl victory will determine whether this season’s expectations are met or if they fall short. 

Houston and UTSA are coming off 12-2 records and both teams had the same amount of exposure for a non-power 5 school. Both team’s quarterbacks are also returning, with Frank Harris for the ‘Runners and Clayton Tune for the Cougars. Houston was also ranked sixth in the nation last year for total defense, which will give the Roadrunners’ offense fits with a new running back. However, if UTSA were to win against Houston, they could find themselves ranked, especially if the momentum carries into week two and they beat Army. 

With the new school year starting, the UTSA students and fans will now have something to look forward to every week until December, starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 3  against Houston.