Thursday, June 29, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Preview: UTSA Roadrunners
Frank Wilson finally got the Roadrunners over the hump in his first season and got UTSA to a bowl game for the first time in the young history of this football program. With the loss to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, however, dropped them to just 6-7 on the season, so there is still obvious work to be done. Will the Roadrunners have enough talent to push forward to a winning record in a wide open CUSA West?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Dalton Sturm is back at QB for UTSA in 2017. He had a solid, but not perfect, run at QB last season after passing for 20 TDs and just six INTs. He completed just 56.5% of his passes, but with another year under Frank Scelfo as OC, he should show some solid development at a senior.
His top two targets are both back as well in WRs Josh Stewart and Kerry Thomas, Jr. They combined for 71 receptions last season and 1237 yards. Thomas led the team with eight TDs, while Stewart added five.
Three players return on the offensive line with starting experience in Stefan Beard, Kyle McKinney, and Austin Pratt.
Jarveon Williams may be gone at RB, but Jalen Rhodes is back after rushing for 827 yards and nine scores. He averaged 5.34 yards per carry and may be ready for a breakout season in 2017.
What To be Concerned About: Offense
The Roadrunners will have to replace both OTs as Gabriel Casillas and Javonte Damond are both gone. Keeping edge rushers off of Sturm and Williams will be a top priority, and this will be an interesting situation to watch in fall camp.
Victor Falcon was a bit all over the place at PK last fall, as he connected on just 12/17 FG attempts on the season. He will have to find more accuracy to help the offense this fall, as leaving points on the field will not be an acceptable result in this high scoring conference.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The line will boast the return of the two starting DEs from last season in Kevin Strong, Jr. and Marcus Davenport. Davenport finished with 10.5 TFLs last season, while Strong added 6.5 for the year.
La'Kel Bass will be back at LB, as will Josiah Tauaefa, who finished with nine TFLs (3rd best on team), and led the team with 115 tackles last fall. Bass finished with 87 tackles and led the team with 11 TFLs. Both have All-Conference potential.
Three starters are back in the secondary with S Nate Gaines, CB Teddrick McGhee, and CB Austin Jupe all returning. Gaines finished with 81 tackles and seven PBUs. McGhee wrapped up the season with four PBUs, while Jupe finished with 22 tackles and five PBUs.
Yannis Routsas is back at Punter after averaging 42 yards per punt.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
This unit showed some strides in areas last fall, and there is plenty of talent that returns, but the Roadrunners do lose two linemen with starting experience, and a pair of safeties as well. Ben Kane and Jonathon Tuiolosega are gone up front, and Michal Egwuagu joins Jordan Moore as departures from the secondary. If the Roadrunners are to continue making strides on the defensive side of the football, those losses will have to be addressed early on in camp.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Houston, 9/9 at Baylor, 9/16 Southern, 9/23 at Texas State, 10/7 Southern Miss, 10/14 at North Texas, 10/21 Rice, 10/28 at UTEP, 11/4 at FIU, 11/11 UAB, 11/18 Marshall, 11/25 at Louisiana Tech
The Roadrunners have been a fun program to watch the last few years under Larry Coker, and are showing signs of promise under Frank Wilson. I was not a fan of the hiring at the time, and he has yet to develop his own roster fully, but Wilson will have proven me wrong if he continues to keep the needle pointing upward. As I have said repeatedly, this is a wide open year in the West of the CUSA. With some opportunities realized, and traps avoided, UTSA has as much chance of anyone in the top four in the league of stealing the division title.