UTSA football mid-season evaluation


Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

As predicted, the UTSA football team is atop the Conference USA (C-USA) standings with an overall record of 5-2. But most importantly, UTSA is 3-0 in C-USA play and tied with North Texas for first in the conference. The 2022 season is without an East and West division, meaning the championship game will be played against the top two teams in the overall conference standings. 

UTSA had 14 first-place votes by members of the C-USA media to repeat as champions, which was most among other C-USA teams. However, there were questions about how the Roadrunners would repeat. They lost key players such as Spencer Burford, Tariq Woolen and Sincere McCormick to the National Football League (NFL). Additionally, the team had multiple running back injuries during the offseason, almost deeming this season over before it started. While continuing to battle injuries, UTSA is still number one in the conference, but how?

The Roadrunners are 16th in the country in total offense, led by Frank Harris, who is number one in all of college football for passing yards. The only other team from C-USA ahead of UTSA in total offense is Western Kentucky University, who the ‘Runners beat convincingly. North Texas — the other undefeated C-USA team — is 19th in total offense, deeming this next game UTSA’s toughest conference matchup. Though, the Roadrunners have answered with their running game. Thus far, UTSA has rushed for a total of 1,018 yards through seven games while opponents have rushed for 1,181 total yards on the Roadrunner defense. Though they are being outgained, the ‘Runners have managed to get 2,405 passing yards and have held their opponents to 1,827. As long as UTSA can keep the rushing yards close, their passing game will lead the way. 

The three-headed monster that is the wide receiver trio of De’Corian Clark, Zakhari Franklin and Joshua Cephus are in the top four of all wide receivers in C-USA in receiving yards. In order to beat UTSA, opposing teams must slow down the offense which ranks number two in C-USA in scoring. UTSA also has the second most touchdowns scored in C-USA, and in both rankings, Western Kentucky is the only team ahead of the ‘Runners, but as mentioned before, the Hilltoppers are out of the picture.

The Roadrunners’ more striking issues are on the defensive side. In C-USA, UTSA ranks seventh in total defense, while the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) ranks number one. UAB was picked to finish second in the conference in the preseason predictions, and so far is 2-1 in C-USA. In just about every defensive stat, the Roadrunners are in the middle of the conference, so UTSA will have to rely on their offense to outscore the opposition. 

This is where UTSA’s veteran leaders and maturity will come in. The ‘Runners are 7-1 in their last eight one-score games. UTSA has five more regular season games, and the second, third and fourth teams in C-USA’s standings are on UTSA’s schedule. These teams happen to be North Texas, Rice and UAB, and it can be assumed the ‘Runners will find themselves in a close ball game with one if not all of these teams. With the nationally dominant offense and middle-of-the-pack defense, UTSA will likely find itself hosting another conference championship on Dec. 2.