UTSA vs. FIU Game Analysis

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UTSA v. FIU Game Analysis
Florida International quarterback James Morgan throws over UTSA defensive end Eric Banks in Saturday's game at the Alamodome. (Photo courtesy Miami Herald).

UTSA was at the wrong end of another blowout game this past Saturday. The play and enthusiasm that exists within the team is completely absent. The quest for a bowl game is out of the picture so the only hope is to get a few moral victories. The outlook on the current season was optimistic before week one, however, their play has been difficult to watch. UTSA fans could be seen leaving the game before the start of the fourth quarter. This does not bode well for Frank Wilson’s future as the Roadrunner head coach.

UTSA v. FIU Game Analysis

This loss is scary for the UTSA football team. Not much was expected out of this young group this year, however, the amount they have lost by this year is shocking. Saturday night ended with a 45-7 defeat, thus shutting the door on any potential bowl bids. The point differential this year for all of the team’s games is -178. Opponents have totaled 327 points, while the Roadrunners have only put up a total of 149 points this year. This statistic alone proves that the blame for the inefficient season comes from both sides of the ball. The Roadrunners were a defensive powerhouse in 2016, but that’s the keyword “were”. Neither the offense or defense has a clear identity and it has shown. UTSA v. FIU Game Analysis will pick apart the team and see what led to this blowout game.

A New Face at QB

The most obvious difference in this game was that senior D.J. Gillins was given the start at quarterback. This was not his first appearance this year, however, it was his first start. Unfortunately, the game did not go as well as he had hoped. He completed 17-31 passes for only 107 yards and 4 interceptions. For the night he only averaged about 3.5 yards/pass and threw for zero touchdowns. His performance was a last-ditch effort by the coaching staff to revitalize the team, however, it went south fast and produced very little. Gillins boasted a 5.9 QBR for the night and had one of the worst statistical games for a quarterback at UTSA this year. One thing that the Roadrunner quarterbacks were good at was not forcing the envelope. They rarely threw interceptions, however, Gillins changed that and had four in just one game.

Before Saturday’s game against FIU, the Roadrunners had only thrown four interceptions. Gillins found a way to match that in just a single game. This was his fifth interception thrown this year in five appearances. It was unlikely that Gillins would be the number one option for the team, however, Coach Wilson and the staff are out of options for this team so far. Bryce Rivers eventually came in, and on his only pass of the game completed a 36-yard touchdown pass. This was the teams first score of the night and it came with 30 seconds left on the clock. The team must preserve their best players. The last thing this team needs is one of its big-time players to have a season-ending injury in games that do not matter.

The Truth About The Defense

At the end of the day, defense wins championships. It was clear that the defense was not going to be dominant from the first defensive snap of the first game. Essentially, the defensive woes come down to pressure. All year the team has been unable to get into the pocket and force tough passes. Opposing quarterbacks have often been given four to five seconds to get the ball out. The secondary is heavily scrutinized for their poor production. However, it’s unfair to blame the defensive backs when they have to cover a route for five seconds at a time. Often, UTSA will stack four defensive linemen hoping to create pressure. For most teams, four down linemen often produce some pressure and cause the quarterback to make quick decisions.

Against FIU, the defense only had one sack and six tackles for losses. On this night, FIU quarterback James Morgan absolutely torched the defense on his way to breaking FIU’s single-season passing touchdown record. Morgan was able to complete 19 of 29 passes for 291 yards and three scores on his way to the 38-point win. The defense is allowing about 420 yards of total offense each week and is giving up an average of four scores per game. They are also averaging about two turnovers per game, however, this number could be higher with more pressure and an unwavering tenacity to get after the ball.

Frank Wilson’s Future

Frank Wilson’s title as head coach is definitely in jeopardy. He has not had much success in his three years at the university. He has only had one winning season. Also, in a season in which he had a top ten ranked defense and a defensive star in Marcus Davenport, the Roadrunners were still a sub .500 team. However, when Wilson only has mediocre talent across the field his poor play calling shows. He has been unable to call the right plays for the right players on the field and it shows. Granted, this season was tough for Wilson. In spring camp, the team lost one of their future stars in Frank Harris and has lost others for periods of time due to injury. However, with the right play calls, Wilson could lead a team to victory.

This season has been full of ups and downs. Different players have been given many looks at positions in order to find the key to a successful season. However, this has still yet to be achieved this year. This season seems like a lost cause at this point and should begin to look ahead to next season to right their wrongs.

 

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