As week two of the 2018 season comes to a close, there are many concerns evident for the UTSA Roadrunners. The ‘Runners once again were outplayed by their opponents. These larger schools are proving to be issues for this small division one team. The Roadrunners gave up 49 points last week against Arizona State after only having scored one touchdown. The team improved in week two. However, they will need to refine some aspects in order to bounce back from these losses.
UTSA v. Baylor Game Recap
The Roadrunners need to make some changes after another crushing loss from a stronger opponent. UTSA was successful last year in defeating the Baylor Bears, however this time it was a different story. For the second straight week, UTSA fell behind early and had to fight all game to come back. By the final whistle, the score was 37-20, leaving the Roadrunners with a 0-2 start to begin the season. Some issues are merely at the surface and easy fixes. However, others run deep and will take some work to turn the season around
The Roadrunner defense is once again the biggest concern for the team. Through two games, this side of the ball has been unable to keep opposing teams out of the end zone. After coming off a season that saw them rank high in defensive statistics, UTSA looks like a shell of their old form. Through two games this season, the defense has given up 86 points to opposing offenses. This type of play is unacceptable for a team that looks to be a powerhouse in Conference USA.
The poor performance of the defensive line play has been the biggest issue so far. The team as a whole has three sacks combined in both games. If the line cannot pressure the quarterback and make throws more difficult, they will continue to give up big plays. This does not mean that the linebackers and secondary are playing incredible either. However, it all begins at the defensive line. If they can force the quarterback out of the pocket and rush passes, then there will be an increase in defensive production. They have improved in rushing defense though, only giving up 91 total rushing yards on Saturday. Compared to last week, when they gave up a staggering 266 yards. Success on the defense will begin with these men, so look for more production in the future.
Linebackers and Secondary
Once again, the linebacking core and secondary got torched in the aerial attack. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer went 23/34 on passing for 328 yards and three scores. This is the second week in a row that the defense has been lit up by the way of the pass. The secondary and linebackers were also unable to force any interceptions. When teams scout for UTSA they realize that they can take advantage of the weak secondary. The Roadrunners need to tighten up and smother wideouts and take away the pass. They figured out how to contain the run, now its time to do so through the air.
The offensive issues are still due in part to a lack of overall team chemistry and its youth. The ‘Runners clearly improved in the offensive game this week as they were able to put up three touchdowns. However, the efficiency at the quarterback position and the play of the offensive line is still in question.
Cordale Grundy made clear improvements and strides towards success in his second game. He went 18/33 for 157 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Although these numbers are not eye-popping, it shows that he has improved since his first start. If he keeps trending in the positive direction, then one could expect more success out of the offense. However, Grundy still needs to work on his passing accuracy as he completed just 54% in the loss. As the team becomes more familiar with the playing styles of each other and comfortable in coach Frank Wilson’ s system, expect more production on the field.
Running Back Play
There were some improvements in the usage and success of the running backs. More specifically, B.J. Daniels led all rushers with 90 yards on 16 carries and one score. The backs individual touches increased from last week as he only had nine carries for 24 yards against Arizona State. As the rushing game improves, so will the passing. Still, the team chooses to be pass heavy which can pose problems. If the offense favors the pass too much then opposing defenses will overplay it, making it less efficient. The team needs to incorporate more of the running game into the playbook to keep the defense honest. If they do this, then you can expect to see more production going down the field.
Heading into week three, the identity of this team is becoming clearer. They are a pass-heavy team who has yet to find much success in either the pass or the run. With more practice and games, they will look more polished. Next week, the Roadrunners will be taking on the Kansas State Wildcats, another team who has had recent success. Right now, the Wildcats are sitting at 1-1 and are fresh off a loss to 16th ranked Mississippi State. These formidable matchups early on are solid tests for conference play as the games will become even more important as the season progresses. UTSA looks to snag their first victory of the season next week but they know they will have to work for it.