Photo by Gerald Castillo
UTSA enters 2018 in different spot than last season
When Texas State meets UTSA in 2018, the Roadrunners will be a much different team than it saw in San Marcos last season.
UTSA handed the Bobcats a lopsided loss in 44-14 fashion inside Bobcat Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. The Roadrunners were rolling with a 3-0 record, including a win over Big 12 foe, Baylor. But UTSA fizzled out in its final eight games with a 3-5 record. Despite being bowl eligible at 6-5, the Roadrunners weren’t invited to a bowl game.
In 2018, UTSA will be in a rebuild of sorts. The Roadrunners only return 10 starters.
On offense, the Roadrunners lose their starting quarterback Dalton Strum, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. Strum had a successful senior season as he threw for 2,185 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also ran for 545 yards and two touchdowns.
UTSA will turn to sophomore Bryce Rivers and junior transfer Cordale Grundy. Frank Harris was set to be the Roadrunners’ signal caller in 2018, but he tore his ACL during spring practice.
Rivers exited UTSA’s spring game No. 1 on the depth chart, while Grundy is at No. 2. Rivers saw slim action in 2017. He completed five passes for 43 yards and two interceptions.
Despite questions at quarterback, the Roadrunners have a key returner at running back in Jalen Rhodes. Rhodes ran for 659 yards and five touchdowns, and also caught 15 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. UTSA also expects more from backup running back B.J. Daniels, who ran for 55 yards on 13 carries last season. Rhodes was listed as the No. 1 tailback, while Daniels is set to be the back up following the spring game.
The Roadrunners have Tariq Woolen (x-receiver), Greg Campbell Jr. (z-receiver), and Marquez McNair (h-receiver) listed as their starting wideouts following spring camp. Campbell Jr. leads the group with 300 receiving yards on 27 receptions. McNair is close behind 177 yards and one touchdown on 16 grabs. Woolen redshirted in 2017.
The offensive line will be a work in progress for UTSA.
The defensive side the ball is expected to lead the Roadrunners once again in 2018. UTSA had defensive success in 2017. The Roadrunners finished No. 5 in the country in total defense by only allowing 287.8 yards per game. They ended the year No. 2 in pass defense in the nation, and No. 22 in rushing defense.
UTSA loses a key member of its defensive line: Marcus Davenport, who was drafted No. 14 overall by the New Orleans Saints. Davenport was the second-leading tackler with 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for loss. He added 8.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The Roadrunners, however, have Kevin Strong Jr, Eric Banks, Jarrod Carter-McLin, King Newton and Baylen Baker returning to the defensive line.
At linebacker, UTSA will have Josiah Tauaefa returning. Tauaefa recorded 29 tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and one fumble recovery during his sophomore campaign.
In the secondary, the Roadrunners have Carl Austin III, C.J Levine, Darryl Godfrey and Stanley Dye Jr. Austin III tallied 48 total tackles, two pass breakups and one sack. Levine notched 46 tackles, three tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one interceptions. Godfrey recorded 19 tackles and Dye Jr. had six tackles.
The UTSA defense will likely be the strong side of the ball again in 2018.
The Roadrunners are expected to regress this season. ESPN’s FPI projects UTSA to finish with a 4-8 record.
The Roadrunners begin their season on the road against Arizona State on Sept. 1 and plays its home opener on Sept. 8 against Baylor. UTSA travels to Kansas State on Sept. 15 before playing Texas State.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Roadrunners a 75 percent chance to beat the Bobcats. The I-35 rivalry continues on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. inside the Alamodome in San Antonio.