Despite all the adversity of this season, 2020 is shaping up to be one for the record books for the UTSA Roadrunners.
With the team’s 3-0 start, first-year head coach Jeff Traylor and his players set the tone, marking the first 3-0 start in program history. With three more games, including tomorrow’s contest at Southern Miss, the team has a chance to tie the school’s best season record, an 8-4 mark set by the 2014 Roadrunners under Coach Larry Coker. The team is 5-4 heading into this weekend.
Along the way, a number of single-game records have fallen including tackles in a game (21 set by Jamal Ligon), receptions in a game (12 by Zakhari Franklin), carries in a game (37 by Sincere McCormick), and the 600 yards of offense set by the team last weekend in the victory over UTEP. Some single-season records are poised to fall as well, and a number of players on this roster currently sit atop some of the career record categories.
“We’ve had three winning seasons in the history of our school. We’ve been to one bowl, and we’ve not won a bowl. We’re very grateful for what Larry Coker did to start this program, and how Coach Wilson continued that, but we have a real chance to make this a November to remember. When you break the school record for yards in a ball game, when Zakhari Franklin breaks another record, that’s pretty cool. Right? Our defense did not allow a point the whole second half. Those are cool things, and we’re gonna recruit to it.”
The record that matters most for the Roadrunners right now is 0-3. That’s the team’s current streak against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2-6), their opponent tomorrow. UTSA has lost the last three match ups, and is 0-2 at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.
“When you look at their roster, you see a lot of talent,” Coach Jeff Traylor said during his media session on Monday, “You see a lot of kids that have won a lot of ball games. That’s enough right there to get your attention… Whenever you play a team that’s used to winning, and they’ve got a lot of athletes on the field, that’s concerning.”
The Golden Eagles are having a rough season that saw their day-one starter and all-conference quarterback, Jack Abraham, opt out of the rest of the season just a week ago. Abraham, who had missed a game after contracting COVID-19, decided to step away from the rest of his senior season over concussion concerns after sustaining one against Rice on Halloween.
Relieving Abraham has been Trey Lowe III, a graduate-transfer from West Virginia University who was able to change programs after graduating with his degree from WVU in just two-and-a-half years. Lowe, listed on ESPN.com as a sophomore, red-shirted last year with the Mountaineers before moving to the Golden Eagles this summer, and hasn’t been able to match Abraham’s per game production just yet. Abraham was averaging 244.8 yards per game and had seven touchdowns passes; Lowe has only hit 100 yards once, and hasn’t scored yet.
— Southern Miss FB (@SouthernMissFB) November 14, 2020
Southern Miss should be hoping to get the passing attack going against UTSA who is giving up 224 yards per game through the air, at 11.8 yards per completion through nine games this season. If not, they’ll lean on their run game that’s picking up 151 yards per game and has scored 15 times this season. The telling point will be the production of Frank Gore Jr., son of the long-time NFL veteran running back Frank Gore. The Golden Eagles are 2-0 when Gore Jr. rushes for more than 100 yards, which has happened just twice this season.
For the UTSA Roadrunners, Coach Traylor just asks his team to stack another good game on time of last weekend’s victory as they chase the goal of making this month a “November to remember.” Frank Harris looked phenomenal last weekend against the Miners, completing 22 of 26 pass attempts (84.6%) for 312 yards and 3 TDs before Coach Traylor pulled him for rest with nine minutes left in the game. Harris added 5 carries for 43 yards and 2 TDs on the ground en route to being named The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week.
The Roadrunners will see Southern Miss’ Gore Jr. and raise them one Sincere McCormick as the sophomore sensation from San Antonio’s Judson High School returns to the field after missing last week for the birth of his daughter. McCormick is second in the nation with 921 rushing yards this season. In Sincere’s absence, Brenden Brady ran for 124 yards on 26 carries, showing he’s ready to provide a strong 1-2 punch for the Roadrunners out of the backfield.
On the defensive side, safeties coach Jess Loepp has been tapped for defensive duties in the absence of Coach Tyrone Nix who was placed on “administrative leave in connection with an internal investigation” last week. Coach Loepp knows he can lean on his experienced secondary who is playing at a high level, and features Rashad Wisdom who forced two fumbles against UTEP and earned the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week, as well as Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors. The defense last week limited the Miners to just 71 yards of total offense and zero points in the second half.
Accolades are one thing, but the Roadrunners aren’t stopping there. Coach Traylor told the media Monday,
“I tell my current team – Some team is going to change the standard around here, where we’re never picked last again, we never don’t have a player on preseason all-conference, that the standard is [the media] wearing me out about which bowl are we going to, not ‘Are we going to a bowl?’. We know we’re not there yet… but we know we have a chance to make this something very special.”
We're back on the road this week.
— UTSA Football 🏈 (@UTSAFTBL) November 16, 2020
That something continues this afternoon at 2pm CST from M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Fans can watch the game on ESPN+, and listen on Ticket 760. Be sure to follow @ProjectSpurs for first-half and full game recaps. Birds Up!