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

UTSA’s path to an AAC Championship

Stephen Saenz

The UTSA Roadrunners began the eight-game stretch of conference games this past Saturday on a positive note, salvaging an uninspiring 1-3 start to the season with a stellar offensive performance against the Temple Owls. With the path to an American Athletic Conference championship being kept alive, let’s take a look at UTSA’s seven remaining opponents and what Jeff Traylor and his squad need to do in order to accomplish the unthinkable and win the AAC.

First comes the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who have two wins and four losses after a dominating 56-35 victory against South Florida on Saturday. Coming off his most impressive performance of the season, Blazers’ quarterback Jacob Zeno and his rocket arm may prove to be a handful for UTSA’s defense. On the bright side, UAB has one of the lowest-ranked defenses in the country, so a matchup against them should be convenient for a ‘Runners offense that boasts a lot of potential, especially with quarterback Frank Harris playing. 

Afterwards, they move on to another struggling Owls team in Florida Atlantic. On the flip side of UAB, the Owls have one of the worst offenses in the country, partly due to unfortunate injuries suffered by quarterback Casey Thompson. FAU failed to reach 20 points in the three games preceding their most recent victory against Tulsa, where they barely reached that mark. Unlike UAB, who has played very closely with UTSA over their last two matchups, I have no worries about the Roadrunners taking care of business against a team whose season could go spiraling very soon.  

Concluding what most would consider the easiest stretch of the final seven games, UTSA faces the East Carolina Pirates, who sit with one win and three losses in the season. With one of the lower-ranked offenses and defenses in the country this season, it is apparent the Pirates have felt the absence of quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Keaton Mitchell, among others. Once again, this is a very favorable matchup that UTSA needs to win in order to make the conference championship.

UTSA then goes on the road to face a familiar foe in rival North Texas. The Mean Green possess one of the worst defenses in the country, allowing a staggering 42 points a game, along with giving up at least 27 points to each of their five opponents this season. The Roadrunner offense should be licking their chops going into this game, as scoring against the UNT defense should be trivial. However, the defense also needs to come prepared against an offense that has not only consistently averaged over 30 points per game, but has also provided a challenge for the Roadrunners over their last several matchups.

UTSA is then set to face another owl team in the Rice Owls. However, unlike Temple and Florida Atlantic, Rice has experienced a positive season so far. With three wins and three losses, Rice boasts an excellent passing attack that averages over 320 yards per game and ranks top ten in the entire country. This matchup will not be a walk in the park for UTSA, as the secondary and defensive line will need to bring their A-game in order to prevent explosive plays and contain quarterback Jonathan Tyler Daniels, who has had an exceptional season so far.

UTSA’s second-to-last game of the season is against South Florida. Despite their most recent loss to UAB, the Bulls have been one of the more surprising teams in the country. They won three of their last five games and nearly pulled off an upset against the almighty Alabama Crimson Tide. South Florida boasts a rushing attack that has averaged over 200 yards a game, a worry for a Roadrunners squad that has not been able to stop teams from running the ball this season. USF is certainly not a slouch of an opponent, and the Roadrunners better come prepared to defend the Alamodome against a team that has improved substantially from their horrendous 1-11 2022 season.

UTSA closes out the season with easily their most important game against the University of Tulane. This is the matchup every Roadrunner fan’s had circled since the beginning of the season, as Tulane has lived up to expectations with four wins and one loss so far on the season. The Green Wave boasts a great defense that has stymied opponents from rushing the football, allowing under 90 rushing yards per game so far this season. UTSA is up for a big challenge in this game, and it undoubtedly does not help that the team will be in hostile territory. Quarterbacks Frank Harris and Owen McCown better enter New Orleans hungry and ready, as an excellent passing game will be needed to vanquish a formidable Tulane team that will look to shut down the running game early. A win here, as insurmountable as it might seem, would almost assure UTSA a spot in the AAC Championship.

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About the Contributors
Aramis Santiago
Aramis Santiago, Staff Writer

Hey, I'm Aramis (he/him). I am a 22 year old, freshman, communication major here at UTSA. He has a  passion for sports, specifically football and basketball, and to a lesser degree, baseball and UFC as well. My goal is to have a job lined up after graduating for journalism where I can talk and write about sports for a living. I also love food and listening to music. I enjoy eating from any place and mainly listen to reggaeton, R&B, and hip-hop. My hobbies whenever I am not working or going to school are watching sports, working out, hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing video games, and I've recently started reading as well. I was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 2000, moved to Baltimore, Maryland with my parents in 2006, and moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2010 where I’ve stayed ever since. I’m also a diehard fan of the Baltimore Ravens, haven’t missed a game since 2014 and will continue watching them for as long as I can breathe.

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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