Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Roadrunners set for Saturday’s season-opener against Cougars

UTSA to meet Houston for second-straight season-opener
Stephen Saenz

SAN ANTONIO – The wait is over, football fans. 

UTSA is set to open its 13th season in program history against Houston on Saturday, Sept. 2, in TDECU Stadium. The matchup for the Roadrunners will be the first game as a member of the American Athletic Conference, while the Cougars are also opening in a new league, the Big 12 Conference.

Houston, who leads the series 2-1 against the ‘Runners, is meeting UTSA for a second-straight season opener and third time overall. The former AAC program won last year’s matchup, 37-35, in a triple overtime battle in the Alamodome.

“They’re very physical, they’ve got great athletes, and they know their scheme,” UTSA head football coach Jeff Traylor said in Wednesday’s media session. “We just weren’t ready for their speed and their toughness last year, and they out-hit us, to be frank.”

Traylor, who is entering his fourth season with UTSA, has compiled a 30-10 record since joining the team in December of 2019, including a 23-5 record the last two seasons. Only Georgia (29), Michigan (25) and Alabama (24) have won more games in the two-year stretch.

The triple overtime loss to the Cougars was a hard pill to swallow for the ‘Runners, especially since the team felt they had that game won as they gave up two late touchdowns for Houston to even get the game into the extra periods.

Now a year removed, outside linebacker Trey Moore is ready to forget the past and start the new year on a clean slate.

“We don’t want to start getting into that type of mentality where you start bringing other emotions into it,” Moore said. “We want to stay locked in. It’s not about making amends for the game last year, it’s a new game.”

Though UTSA is rolling out with familiar faces, specifically at the quarterback position with Frank Harris returning for a seventh season, the Cougars are bringing a new piece to the week one matchup.

Donovan Smith, a junior 6-foot-5 transfer quarterback from Texas Tech, is replacing Clayton Tune who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft to Arizona. 

“You’d like for their next quarterback to not be guys who already beat Texas and Oklahoma,” Traylor said about Smith who tallied 2,686 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons in Lubbock. “Sounds like an old, veteran quarterback to me who came to Houston to play.”

The game on Saturday embarks the first of a 12-game journey for UTSA. Having won 82 percent of their games in the last two seasons, including two-straight Conference USA titles, it’s fair to say the Roadrunners are looking to win the opener, despite playing a Power Five opponent. 

Traylor, who expects to win every time he walks into a stadium, believes the ‘Runners have to take care of themselves to make that possible.

“We are not daring to be anyway disrespectful. It’s just we got to take care of us,” Traylor said. “We got to make sure we’re getting good. We’re getting better. It’s a great opportunity to go on the road, against a really good football team, in the Big 12, [they] won 20 games in the last two years, just to see how we stack up. But at the end of the day, if we don’t play well, the Roadrunners don’t take care of the Roadrunners, it’s not going to matter.”

UTSA and Houston will kickoff at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at TDECU Stadium and will air on FS1 and KTKR-AM Ticket 760.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lawhorn
Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor
Luke (he/him) is an English major at UTSA and is set to graduate in the Spring of 2024. This is his fifth semester at The Paisano and his fourth as the Sports Editor. Along with covering UTSA sports and events, Luke also covers high school sports and local events for the San Antonio Express-News and covers the San Antonio Spurs for The Paisano. He has a huge passion for covering sports and giving his opinion on them. Outside of writing and talking about sports, Luke's hobbies include playing basketball, watching movies and all things outdoors.
Stephen Saenz
Stephen Saenz, Photographer

Stephen is a first-year mechanical engineering major with a minor in business administration. Stephen is from McAllen, TX, but has lived in San Antonio for about 9 years now. This is his first-year shooting for The Paisano, however, Stephen has loved film and photography since he was around 10-11 years old and has actively been pursuing freelance photography for about a year now. While photograph is not his major, Stephen is currently focused on growing his name in the industry by focusing on his photography business, however, if it’s not editing or taking photos, he is either listening to music, watching movies, in a coffee shop or finding a good spot to eat. Stephen is a part of other organizations like Engineers Without Borders and works for a non-profit in San Antonio called Kinetic Kids.

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