UTSA started its season in the first-ever Hometown Showdown. This Roadrunner knocked off the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, 35-7 in the season opener for both schools. This was the first edition of what will soon be a season-regular rivalry. The hype surrounding the game was intense and full of excitement. It gave the city the opportunity to divide and support their respective teams. UTSA came into this game as -6.5 favorites and proved to be more than the Cardinals could handle.
UTSA vs UIW Opener
As opening day neared all eyes continued to be focused on the potential success of Frank Harris. The expectations are high as some have proclaimed him the “savior” of UTSA football. With this much pressure resting on a redshirt Sophomore, you could expect the young Harris to crack. However, it was quite the opposite. When he felt the pressure on his weak side, he calmly scampered out and turned a loss into a meaningful gain. He always made the extra effort and continuously bailed the team out.
The ‘Runners seemed like a well-oiled machine as they cruised to victory. Although this victory came against a small FCS team, this win was a crucial steppingstone for the remainder of the season. Believe it or not, the Roadrunners scored more points in their first game of 2019, then they did in any game in the previous year. The most points UTSA scored in the previous season in one game was 30 against UTEP. One factor was the experience of the Roadrunner offensive line which has many returners from 2018. The other factor was the explosiveness of Harris.
Harris showed why he earned the starting job. The dual-threat quarterback was able to capitalize on opportunities on the ground and through the air. The first thing that was noticed about Harris was his elusiveness on the ground. Coach Frank Wilson had many designed plays for Harris to run the ball. However, it was his uncanny ability to escape pressure and create something out of nothing. Harris finished the game with 123 yards on only 15 carries and was the teams leading rusher. In one game, Harris nearly surpassed all of quarterback Cordale Grundy’s rushing yards in all of last season. This should help convince most that Harris has the tools to lead the ‘Runners to victory.
He was also extremely efficient through the air. In fact, he finished the first quarter completing his first ten passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. For the game, the lefty quarterback completed 28 of his 36 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. In all of last season, Grundy played in nine games and passed for only 989 yards. Frank Harris in his first game of the season is nearly a fifth of the way to surpassing Grundy’s total. This was a clear upgrade for the Roadrunners who were stagnant on the offensive side of the ball in 2018. They ranked dead last in offensive efficiency last season. However, if Harris continues his efficiency, the Roadrunners have a chance to raise their offense from the depths of despair.
— UTSA Football ? (@UTSAFTBL) September 1, 2019
The defense has always been UTSA’s strongest hand and it seems as if they returned to their usual self. They held the Cardinals to only seven points in the entire game. When it seemed like UIW was beginning to pick up any amount of momentum, the stout defense promptly shut it down. The Roadrunner defense kept the Cardinals in check and only gave up a mere 28 rushing yards for the game. They also only conceded 181 yards through the air for a combined 209 total yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, no one player seemed to drastically outperform the others. However, Lorenzo Dantzler seemed to impact the game most. Dantzler started his career under coach Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi Community College, the home to the popular Netflix original Last Chance U. Since his arrival at UTSA, he has only improved his game and proved why he has division one talent. Dantzler finished the game with four total tackles and an impressive two sacks. Continued success on the defensive side of the ball will be crucial for the success of the program moving forward.
This opening victory helped get the sour taste of an abysmal season out of the mouths of many Roadrunner faithful. It was comforting to know that the team has a reliable quarterback that can produce even when the play breaks down. This aspect was clearly missing from the 2018 team. Also, the impact on the defensive side of the ball means that fans will get to see the ecstatic Harris take the field time and time again.
Next Saturday, the Roadrunners will travel to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears which will be a large task at hand. Playing a team from one of the Power 5 conferences is rare for the Roadrunners. This being said, expect the team to approach this game aggressively and with lots of fervor as they look to start the season with two victories.
For more highlights from the game, here is a video compliments of WatchStadium.com
UTSA vs UIW Highlights