#21 in Texas vs UTSA Preview: Former Longhorns assistant Jeff Traylor returns to Forty Acres

On Saturday, head coach Jeff Traylor and the UTSA Roadrunners will journey up to I-35 to face No. 21 Texas Longhorns At Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the first time. It premieres at 7 p.m. CST on the Longhorn Network.

Traylor is a former Texas assistant who spent two years at Forty Acres under Charlie Strong, and has become a fan favorite for his recruiting ability. So when Tom Hermann’s era was falling apart a couple of years ago, some were looking at Traylor as a potential replacement for Hermann even though he was in his first season as head coach.

Now Traylor will have a chance to confront the program that trained him to research the biggest disruption in the school’s history. Last week, a host of turmoil across the college football scene defined the weekend, but Road Runners are better than ignoring it, according to the Texas coach.

“The easy thing for us is that we have a lot of respect for UTSA,” Steve Sarkissian said Monday. “I can’t speak for the other schools that have bumped their toes and these ball games, but you turned on the UTSA tape and quickly caught your eye with their schemes, with their staff, and the way they play the game.”

A simple look at last season’s record would also suffice – UTSA went 12-2, won the USA Championship game over Western Kentucky and made the Frisco Bowl. A breakout season in the second year for Traylor who led the Roadrunners made him one of the most recognizable names in the market, but Traylor chose to extend the contract until 2031 to stay in San Antonio.

“Coach Traylor has done a good job, he has really good players, well trained players,” Sarkissian said. “When I touched on the team, these guys are playing hard. They are playing hard in all three stages.”

UTSA enters the game 1-1 after losing overtime to Houston in their opening game and overtime win over Army last week.

a crime

Schertz Clemens local producer Frank Harris is UTSA’s sixth-year quarterback and the backbone of the program Traylor has created since arriving in San Antonio in 2020. At 6’0, 205 pounds, Harris is a petite left player who will surpass the 6000 rally on Saturday and thrown Also 48 career landing passes. He got off to a hot start this season as well, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Houston and then collecting 359 yards and three more touchdowns, earning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week awards for both shows.

“He’s a double threat, he can take the ball out fast in a lot of their RPO, he does a really great job of giving receivers he has a chance to play the ball on the field with a lot of fades. And different things, on the inside fade out, but then he can use his legs, and he can hurt you with his legs,” Sarkissian said.

In the fourth quarter against Alabama, Texans struggled to contain quarterback Bryce Young, in part by losing the integrity of the passing lanes, so the main focus this week will be to keep Harris confined.

“We also have to play sticky cover because it will make you pay, especially in advantage throws, RPO throws,” Sarkissian said.

In the backcourt, longtime running mate, Sincere McCormick, Harris lost a bowling ball from a run-back for nearly 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career with the Roadrunners. To replace McComick, he brought in Traylor Trelon Smith, a Arizona Location in 2017 who had two productive seasons in Arkansas before entering the NCAA transfer gate and returning to his home state. Smith got off to a slow start against Houston, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry in 13 attempts, but was more productive on fewer chances against Army, gaining 48 yards in eight rounds.

Smith’s underproduction has less to do with his talent than with issues along the offensive line. Right tackle Mackay Hart, a three-year rookie who was on the USA second team last season, picked up a leg injury in the season opener. Hart’s replacement, Ernesta Almraz, was also attacked and unable to finish the game against Houston, forcing the UTSA to use walking Frankie Martinez. On the other hand, a stop by Demetris Allen and another injury caused Finley’s guard Tatafu to move outside to enter left.

“We’re kind of impressed right now – we’re not as clean as we’d like to be on our targets,” Traylor He said on the Horns247 Flagship podcast.

Thus, pass protection was an issue for the Roadrunners with seven sacks allowed through two games, and tied for 116th nationally. The Cougars were also able to disrupt Harris at times — the pressure helped to force a key interception in the fourth quarter when the Roadrunners were clinging to a seven-point lead. One time later, Houston tied the game with a 20-yard touchdown pass.

After their success against the Alabama offensive line last week, the Texans should be able to control the streak of scrimmage and pressure Harris off the edge, forcing the UTSA to rely on passing options and a passing game to get the football moving.

The Roadrunners brought back the top three receivers from last season — Zachary Franklin (81 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns), Joshua Sevos (71 catches for 819 yards and six touchdowns), and De’Corian Clark (52 catches for 755 yards). and seven touchdowns, so this is a group of experienced senior passers who have a deep knowledge and comfort level with Harris.


Like Harris, defense chief, Salameh Rashad Al-Hikma, is also a local producer, hailing from Converse Judson. Widsom, who started four years ago, plays borderline defensive coordinator Jason Rollins and has scored 95 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fouls in 2020, his most productive season.

“He was a defensive leader…He’s a very physical player, but nonetheless he can run. You definitely see he’s the midfielder in this defense and with his leadership, the guys definitely feed on him,” Sarkissian said.

UTSA had to replace a lot of play-making capacity on the defensive front after losing six of its eight best tacklers last season, including outside linebackers Clarence Hicks (16.5 TFLs) and Charles Wiley (nine TFLs). Hicks also led the team with 10.5 bags.

But the game against Houston saw some positive developments in the field as UTSA produced four sacks and eight tackles to lose. And it wasn’t just one player – five different players were honored with individual intervention for a loss and eight players assisted with intervention for a loss. Nose treatment Brandon Brown had 1.5 bags in that game and five other players produced half a bag.

“That’s where we’re improving massively and I know it’s hard to believe because we’ve been really good on defense, but we’re really on defense,” Traylor said. “We rotate a lot of players. Really, really happy with how hard these kids are playing.”

In the opening game against Houston, the UTSA defense played well, allowing only 3.2 yards per carry in 44 attempts as the Cougars were unable to create explosive plays beyond two 15-yard runs. However, the Roadrunners have allowed five pass touchdowns already this season, including two by the Black Knights last week, who threw for 304 yards with the Traylor defense selling to stop the run.

“I know we ripped through the air against the Army, but it was a conscious decision made by the head coach that we were going to do everything we could to stop the trap, the dives, the middles, and the pitch,” Traylor said. Yes, no one likes to drop 300 in the air, but if I’m going to go into the army, that’s how I do it.”

Last season, the Roadrunners allowed 27 touchdown passes at 8.3 yards per attempt, but they were able to upgrade the secondary by moving the back corner from Mountaineers Nicktroy Fortune and returning the other three starts, including Wisdom. Against Houston, UTSA held quarterback Clayton Tune to 206 yards at 6.4 yards per attempt.

special teams

Trellor brought in Jared Sackett in South Florida to tackle kicking assignments this season. But while Sackett has a power up to 40 yards, he hasn’t made a field goal over 40 yards since 2018, including two this year, and has only one attempt from over 50 yards.

Bunter Lucas Dean is a four-year rookie who averaged 45.2 yards per attempt last season and already has two points inside the 20-yard line this year, more than he did in 2021.

Upon returning to the game, outside quarterback Dadrian Taylor was an honorable mention of the All-Conference USA’s performance last season. Cephus acts as a return punt.

Traylor was the special teams coordinator when he was in Texas, so this is an area of ​​expertise for the UTSA head coach and his teams are known for solid play at that point, but the Roadrunners had some trouble covering last season’s kick-off, finishing 108th. Lies 23.4 yards per return.

UTSA is a good G5 program with lots of experience and a good coach, but the Texans have plenty of talent and are playing at a high level to start the season despite current injuries, so the Longhorns should be able to comfortably beat the Roadrunners.

Texas is currently favored with 12.5 points, According to DraftKings.

Odds/lines subject to change. Terms and conditions apply. See Draftkings.com/sports book for details.

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